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Vinho Verde Climbs Past A Half-Million Cases, Helping To Raise Portugal’s Profile

August 7, 2015

Wines from Portugal’s Vinho Verde region continue to carve out steady progress in the U.S. market, recording a 19% volume gain between 2010 and 2014, according to the Commissão de Viticultura da Região Vinhos Verdes. Last year, the category was up 4.5% to 511,000 nine-liter cases.

“The average consumer is still learning about Portuguese wines, and there’s great opportunity with Vinho Verde as consumers discover it,” says Luis Gândara da Silva, managing director for Evaton Inc., the U.S. import arm of Sogrape Vinhos, Portugal’s largest winemaker. “It’s very approachable in price and style, and is an alternative to Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc.”

Evaton handles Vinho Verde brand Gazela ($5.99-$6.99), whose line includes flagship Vinho Verde White, as well as a Vinho Verde Rosé. Gazela was up 24% in the six months through June and is on track to pass the 100,000-case mark by year-end.

New Jersey-based importer Wine In Motion has seen a similar uptick in Vinho Verde sales, led by its Quinta da Lixa label. That brand includes both an entry-level Anjos Vinho Verde tier and a trio of more premium offerings, including Quinta da Lixa ($10-$13), Aromas das Castas ($11-$13) and Pouco Comum Alvarinho ($14-$15).

“Lately we’re seeing a move from entry-level to premium,” notes Wine In Motion managing partner Pedro Veloso. In addition to Quinta da Lixa, the group’s Vinho Verde portfolio includes Anselmo Mendes ($12-$20) and Quinta do Soalheiro ($20-$35). Wine In Motion’s sales of Vinho Verde total just over 20,000 cases.

Palm Bay International markets the J.M. da Fonseca wine portfolio, which includes Vinho Verde brand Twin Vines ($7.99). Targeting the off-premise, Palm Bay is working with major retail chains like HEB and Cost Plus World Market to grow the Vinho Verde category. At BevMo, which stocks three Vinho Verdes, all below $10, senior vice president of wine Bob Paulinski says there remains plenty of work to do in acquainting consumers with the category, as awareness is still relatively low.

Back in Portugal, the country’s vintners are looking to boost the wines’ quality and reputation. Wine Spectator recently explored this dynamic in its July 31 issue, which featured Portuguese wines. The report detailed the efforts of ambitious Vinho Verde producers like Soalheiro and Luis Seabra to craft ageworthy expressions with greater complexity.

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