On May 11th 2021, the President of the Republic of Portugal, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, came to visit us at Soalheiro. Having heard about our projects in innovation and sustainability, such as our Club of Producers and our new eco-friendly packaging, the President decided to come and experience our Territory first-hand. While on an itinerary through Alto Minho, he spent an afternoon at Soalheiro meeting our staff, touring our winery, and enjoying a delicious lunch of local delicacies (paired with Alvarinho, of course!).
A Visit Fit for a President
Marcelo began his visit with a warm reception by our team of more than 30 employees. He took the time to introduce himself to every staff member individually, greeting each person with a covid-friendly first bump. He followed the introductions by taking one of his famous selfies with our entire staff, the first of the day’s many President-led photo ops.
The President then visited the Soalheiro Innovation Centre, where we give rise not only to our own research projects, but also open the doors to collaborators for the development of joint innovation projects. A true incubator of ideas that, according to our winemaker Luís Cerdeira, represents “10% business and 90% passion”. Our Innovation Centre aims to celebrate new ways of thinking and promote economic sustainability, not only for the company but for our Territory. “It is necessary to innovate in order to generate value”,Luís stresses, an idea that was celebrated by the President during his visit.
Our team happily shared with Rebelo de Sousa our most recent sustainability initiatives. The first prototypes of fabrics produced as an alternative to leather, made from grape pomace, were presented, the results of a partnership with local fabric producer Tintex Textiles. This is an example of an integrated and long-term sustainability strategy, which also includes the new, lighter bottle with 19% less glass as well as the installation of a plant covering on the winery’s roof that allows an energy savings of 26% per year. It was on this green roof, overlooking the Minho River Valley, that the President of the Republic praised the important innovation and sustainability projects happening here at Soalheiro.
We, of course, could not let the President leave without tasting the flavours of our Territory. Hosted by the founding family and current managers of Soalheiro, siblings Luís and Maria João Cerdeira and their mother Palmira, the visit finished with a special lunch. Held at Quinta de Folga, Maria João’s own traditional smokehouse, it was a delicious meal featuring a variety of local delicacies. The visit was also attended by Manoel Batista, Mayor of Melgaço, António Barbosa, Mayor of Monção, Diogo Castro, Mayor of the district of Alvaredo, Manuel Pinheiro, President of the Commission of Viticulture of the Region of Vinhos Verdes, and Anselmo Mendes, President of the Association of Producers of Alvarinho.
“Among the best innovators in the world”
With the beauty of the Minho River Valley as his background, the President of the Republic of Portugal praised the work going on at Soalheiro. “One family, which joins with other families, in an experience with multiple producers who still have what is theirs, contributing to a joint project which is performing among the best innovators in the world.” These were some of the words that Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa used to compliment Soalheiro, the first Alvarinho brand in Melgaço. Our story started in 1974 with an innovative spirit, which has flourished over time, and today receives presidential recognition. “It is from these projects that started small, and today are grand, that the collective will and progress of the country are formed.”
After visiting our recently modernized winery and seeing first-hand our current projects in innovation and sustainability, the President praised the history and future of Soalheiro:
“This is the future of the country, a project that innovates in products, innovates in design, innovates in distribution, innovates in partnerships with products from other industries in the region, and in doing so not only creates wealth, not only exports, not only spreads the name of Portugal, but, above all, creates conditions, in a sustainable way, for guaranteeing a settlement of people here. Ensuring territorial cohesion, social cohesion, which is the great struggle for the sub-regions farthest from the large urban centres.”
Before his departure, Maria João and the founding family gifted the President of the Republic a special souvenir: a bottle of Soalheiro Alvarinho (Clássico). What better way to remember the innovative journey of Soalheiro than with the wine that started it all?
Author: Corinna Wallace