An Interview with Pedro Lopes Vieira of Esporão

A few weeks ago we had special guest, Pedro Lopes Vieira, sales manager of Esporão North America at our Sunday tasting.

Esporão is one our favorite Portuguese producers here at Portalis. The estate is located in Portugal’s remote Alentejo region, located 112 miles southeast of Lisbon. Due to their hot climate, their style of wines are ripe, spicy & very easy drinking. I had the pleasure of sitting down with Pedro for a few minutes as he told me a little bit about himself & his interesting wine journey.

Born & raised in Lisbon, Pedro has always been around wine. His family has operated a small biodynamic winery just for the locals (and themselves) for several decades. As a young boy he played a lot of soccer & always dreamt of playing professionally, despite his father wanting a more collegiate path for him. He accomplished his dream when he was picked up by a professional team from the Lisbon area. Though he enjoyed playing soccer & felt a sense of accomplishment (he played professionally for 5 years) in Pedro’s own words, “I realized I wasn’t a great player”. So Pedro, having been around wine his entire life, decided to give it a chance. Instead of working at the family winery though, he chose another route & landed a job in sales for a local distributor called Food & Wine of Portugal. After several successful years with FWP, they offered him an amazing project he couldn’t refuse, to help open a Portuguese wine market in Canada. So he relocated to Toronto, with his girlfriend (now wife), to help bring Portuguese wines into a new market. “Things were very slow at first,” he said, “so the first two years I also worked in restaurants waiting tables while the new branch of FWP was getting started.”  I asked him how his relationship with Esporão began. He said from the beginning with FWP, Esporão was one of the producers in their portfolio, so he was very familiar with the family-owned brand. After 7 yrs in Toronto with FWP, Esporão hired Pedro to represent their brand exclusively. With his new role with Esporão he moved back to Lisbon in 2007 to work more closely with them. Currently Pedro lives in NYC where he has just recently located to help expand Esporão in the US market.

One last questioned for Pedro –
What makes Esporão wines so special? His reply was, “I feel their wines are about tradition & consistency. It’s a huge company producing 14 million bottles a year, yet they are still family-owned since it was purchased in 1973. Their youngest son is now CEO; they’ve kept it in the family, that says a lot about them.” Esporão produces 28 different products including olive oil & has 660 hectares dedicated to vineyards.

We currently we offer the following wines at Portalis:

Esporão 2009 Reserve Branco
  Reg $16.99 | Mixed Case $13.59
Esporão 2004 Syrah  Reg $21.99 | Mixed Case $17.59
Esporão 2004 Quatro Casto  Reg $22.99 | Mixed Case $18.39
Selection Extra Virgin Olive Oil  $19.99


VOTE NO on Initiative 1183

We are proponents of privatizing the WA State liquor business, and have voted yes on previous initiatives; however, 1183 is written by Costco to exclude small businesses from participating in the liberalization of these rules.  The grossest example of this is that stores have to be 10,000 square feet or larger to qualify for a liquor license, making it impossible for businesses oth…er than Costco, Safeway, Fred Meyer, etc to get a license.  Ultimately this will reduce competition and lower the offering in the marketplace for consumers.  We urge you to vote NO as there’s a better way to accomplish privatization. We are in full agreement with how fellow wine business McCarthy and Schiering states the case:

VOTE NO on 1183

By Dan | Published: August 5, 2010

Initiative 1183 would permit Costco, grocery stores, and other large volume discount retailers to sell liquor, but would prevent small, independent retailers like McCarthy and Schiering from selling select armagnac, calvados, single malt scotch, bourbon and specialty spirits from domestic distillers. To qualify for a liquor license under 1183, you must have a retail space of 10,000 square feet or more, unless you live in an area of the state where stores of that size do not exist. Our shops are about 1500 square feet each. Large grocery stores will be able to shout even louder “Buy your wine AND liquor with us, skip the extra stop!” But you will probably not be pleased with the selection. Existing generic wine offerings at grocery and big box stores are representative of what your liquor and spirits selections will be like if 1183 passes, with no opportunity for small independent retailers like us to offer you alternative selections!

If you enjoy special ordering wines a few bottles at a time from McCarthy & Schiering (wines that we do not normally stock), that service will cost you more in the future if 1183 passes, as our suppliers will raise the cost to us when we order in less than case quantities. This is the way it’s done in California with similar “volume discounting.” Your selection will decrease, and your price will increase, except on those generic offerings from the big box stores, or those wines we choose to purchase in 5 or 10 case quantities. Wines that we stock in 3 to 6 bottle quantities will certainly cost you more. Good luck finding them at Costco or Safeway!

We’re strong proponents of getting the state out of the liquor business — just not the way Costco wants to achieve it. Initiative 1183 is $22 million worth of Costco trying to impose its will, dominate the wine and liquor business in Washington, and further marginalize small independent retailers.  Let’s wait until there is a proposal that is fair to all the citizens and businesses in the state!

We urge you to VOTE NO on 1183!

Dan McCarthy and Jay Schiering