The Portuguese wine group Sogrape Vinhos is making a big bet on a white grape you may not have heard of: Arinto. Last month, the company acquired Quinta da Romeira, owners of Portugal's largest Arinto vineyard, from the Ferreira family. The sale price was not disclosed.
Quinta da Romeira's labels include Prova Régia and Morgado de Sta. Catherina. The winery, located in Bucelas, about 15 miles outside Lisbon, owns 445 acres, of which nearly 185 acres are planted to Arinto. The winery produces more than 50,000 cases per year. The sale allows Sogrape to grow its regional diversity, and confirms the belief among the company's principals that there is quality winemaking potential beyond the Douro Valley.
"The move for the Lisbon region was mandatory for Sogrape," Fernando da Cunha Guedes, Sogrape's CEO, told Wine Spectator. "And to make it in the Bucelas subregion is a source of great joy and pride, but also of great responsibility." António Braga, head winemaker of Sogrape in charge of Mateus, Vinhos Verdes and Dão, will be responsible for the Romeira wines.
Sogrape is the biggest wine company in Portugal, with annual revenue around US$250 million, more than the seven next biggest producers combined. The firm exports 70 percent of its total production, and the United States comprises around 15 percent of its export sales. Historically built on the success of Portuguese rosé Mateus, the family-run company was founded in 1942. The company performs well with both big-volume wines and high-end, terroir-driven cuvées like Casa Ferreirinha's Barca-Velha.
Stay on top of important wine stories with Wine Spectator's free Breaking News Alerts.
The company's expansion has been steady, encompassing investments both in Portugal and abroad. Today, Sogrape owns vineyards and brands in New Zealand, Argentina, Chile, and Spain. In Portugal, Sogrape has been working to diversify its regional offerings, with wineries and brands in the Douro and Porto, Bairrada, Vinhos Verdes, Dão, Alentejo and even Madeira.
Arinto, a very aromatic, high-acidity grape that makes expressive and balanced wines, is arguably one of Portugal's best white wine grapes. It's native to the Bucelas appellation, which was established in 1908, but whose wines have earned praise for centuries: During the Napoleonic Wars, the Duke of Wellington, commander of the Portuguese-English allied army and a food and wine lover, carried Arinto de Bucelas wines home to London as an offering to King George III.