About Me

Gavin Hubble - (BSc & Post Grad. Business Marketing) - I started working in the wine industry over 23 years ago in New Zealand. Working in; wine retail, sales, wine production, label & packaging design, marketing, wine buying, consulting and wine education. I am responsible for the Brand Health of 60+ wine brands distributed here in New Zealand. Wine Brands from New Zealand, Australia, France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Chile and Argentina. I work closely with the Trade Industry - (Retail Stores & Restaurants) introducing, educating and positioning exciting and unique brands to wine enthusiasts all over the world.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Winemaker Series:

Welcome to another in the series of winemaker interviews.

Pedro Sá is the chief oenologist of Sogevinus Fine Wines for Kopke and the other recognised Porto wine brands of the group which include Barros, Burmester and Cálem - joining the company in 2000.


Sogevinus is the Port and table wine group owned by Spanish bank Caixanova (based in Galicia). Established in 1998, it began with the purchase of Port house Cálem, and then followed the acquisition of Burmester (2005), Kopke (2006) and Barros (2006). Sogevinus own two quintas in the Douro. Arnozelo is in the Douro Superior next to Vargellas and has 100 hectares of grade 'A' vineyards. Sao Luíz is close to Pinhão in the Cima Corgo and has 90 hectares of vines. Altogether, this is a reasonably sized operation, selling approx 12.5 million bottles in 2009, with a 90 /10 split between Port wine and table wine (the table wine project began here in 2002, with the first wines released in 2004).
I had an unforgettable visit and tasting experience with the team at Sogevinus in Oporto at their cellars and head-office last year in July 2011. Then the following day I made my way by train up the Douro Valley into the heart of the Port region to climb the breathtaking terraces of their Barros vineyards.

What first attracted you to the wine industry and as a winemaker?
Portugal has a very old tradition in producing wine. Nowadays the whole country has wine production and it would be almost impossible not to be influenced and attracted by this industry.
I became a wine appreciator because of my father and grandfather. They always liked to drink good wine (especially Port Wine).
As a child, I had the opportunity of helping my grandfather doing the harvest (since he was also a small wine producer) and I found the experience fantastic. The pleasure of picking the grapes and of transforming them into a product that could be perpetuated and appreciated by different people is also a very satisfying feeling.

Where and when did you study winemaking?
Trás-os-Montes and Alto Douro University, from 1994 until 1999. I was indeed very lucky since I had the opportunity of studying in the heart of the most beautiful wine region worldwide: the Douro Valley… which is also the Oldest Demarcated Wine Region in the world.

What is your favourite grape variety(s) to work with and why?
I'm not a particular supporter of working just one single varietal. This is the greatest richness of the Douro, where we can find an infinite number of grape varieties.


Which grape variety would you most like to work with in the future and why?
There are several grape varieties that I would - maybe Sauvignon Blanc. This grape is also a component of other famous dessert wines like Sauternes and Barsac and I would like to have the chance of working with it in the Douro Valley.

With each new vintage what do you most look forward to?
With every vintage, we are worried the most in trying to respect the intrinsic characteristics of each micro-region or vineyard. We want that the grapes suffer as little as possible from human manipulation. In my opinion, the most interesting and seductive thing after a harvest is the surprise effect when you taste the wine for the first time. Of course, throughout this process, we always try to do our best so that we can present a very good wine. In my opinion, we must be vigilant and not just wine handlers.

To date what has been you most interesting/challenging vintage and why?
In the last few years, 2007 was indeed the most challenging vintage for our team. It was a year with many difficulties in terms of vineyard, the weather was very irregular and inconsistent but in the end the wine proved to be one of the best vintages in the last 10 years.

Which person has influenced you the most as a winemaker and why?
It would be unfair to mention just one person. I found many people who helped me a lot in my journey of knowledge acquisition and they were inspirational during this period. I am talking about family, teachers or even co-workers.

Which person ‘current’ or ‘past’ would you most like to have met or meet and why?
I would like to meet Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi. The football is my second passion…

If you were stranded on a desert island and you could take one bottle of wine with you - what would it be and why?
A bottle of Barros Colheita 1937. Just wonderful…


If you could make wine anywhere else in the world - where would it be and why?
I wish I could experience several wine regions, but I will mention just two: Ice Wine (in Canada) due to the weather difficulties which require a lot of attention and effort from the winemaker and the Tokay Region, since the wine culture is very similar to the Port Wine one.
What advice would you give a young person starting out as a winemaker?
I would advise him (or her) to visit different wine regions around the word. This would be indeed the first step so that he/she can then begin his/her own path.

If you weren’t a winemaker - what would you like to be and why?
Sports journalist.

In the future, what exciting changes can you see, or would like to see for your wines, wine styles, vineyard or winery?
I wish that port wine will always be seen as a world-class wine around the world. Naturally, the environmental concerns, sustainability and energy resources will have a crucial role in the design of the wines in the future. I would like also that the regulation concerning the protection of the origin appellation played a more important role in the defense of the authenticity and value of several unique wines.

Barros Ports are available in New Zealand and around the world from quality wine retailers and restaurants. Or visit their website: Barros Port


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