Sogevinus focuses on still wine expansion

Port producer Sogevinus is set to double production of its still wines and consolidate the range as it rethinks its strategy on its port and wine brands

Gonzalo Pedrosa CEO Sogevinus

Sogevinus CEO Gonzalo Pedrosa

Speaking to the drinks business this week, CEO Gonzalo Pedrosa said there was a great opportunity to grow its still wines to better compliment its existing port business.

“Port is the legacy, but we believe the future is developing sales of still wines – it is what people are demanding more and more,” he told db. “We’re not changing [ie the port business], but we will grow through the still wines.“

Currently the company produces around 7m L of port and 1.2m L of still wine, with the wines marketed under each of its four port brands – Curva (an extension of its Calem port brand), Barros, Burmester and Kopke – but Pedrosa said splitting the production between the brands meant each only had small volumes. As a result, clients and partners tend to focus more on port and were less interested in building wines sales.

Consolidating the brands is a key consideration for its long-term strategy, and will also enable the company to grow still wine sales with new clients using a more focused approach, he pointed out.

“We think it we focus on a couple of brands, we could be more successful. We are very proud of the wines in the markets at the moment, but we are thinking of the next forty years and want some still wines consolidation,” he said. “It has been a work in progress for 18 months, we’ve been travelling, investing, analyzing the figures and seeing what we want to achieve. It is a long exercise but we need to go in the right direction.”

The company has already invested around €1m in increasing production in the Quinta do Bairro vineyard, replanting 40 ha of red varieties with white varieties including Viosinho, Gouveio, Arinto and Rabigato, and intends to use 80% of the vineyard for still wine production.

It has also boosted capacity with a new €2m logistics hub which opened in May, that will not only streamline costs, but has the capacity to treble the size of current operations overall.

Port growth still key

However Pedrosa said increasing distribution of its port brands remained a key objective for the company, particularly in the strategic UK market, where it intends to focus on the on-trade.

kopke-colheita-1965-matured-in-wood-port-wine-sogevinus

Sales in the UK have doubled in the last year, he noted, albeit of a small base, and it is determined to maintain and develop this growth.

“It is a step-by-step process to show the [port] brands in a different way, it is not for the mass markets,” he told db. “Our identity is as a leader of colheitas style and the gradual building [of the brands] is one of the main reasons we working in the UK, as the presciptor for the rest of the world.

“Setting a trend here helps you succeed in other markets,” communications manager Tania Branco Oliveira added.

Pedrosa said the company had adopted a new approach following a major restructure of the business five years ago.

“We don’t want to anchor it in the past, but advance people looking at it anew looking not just at a product, but as an experience,” he said. “Technical explanations are boring – no one reacts to information about the pickers or the tartaric acid or residual sugars, it is about building an emotional connection with the wine.”

The ports are distributed in the UK by Amathus (Calem), Haywood Bros Wines (Kopke), and Hallgarten Druitt (Barros).

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