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The Present and Future of Portugal

Based on the analysis of the tables of the Portuguese Institute of Vine and Wine (IVV), Portugal (Figure No. 4) currently lives, in 2015, a situation of stability in wine production. Over the past 10 years, its production has recorded stable values without large fluctuations.

The production of Protected Designation of Origin wines (PDO) registered a fall in the last decade, even if the year 2000 reversed this trend. The wines with Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) certification have been keeping a stable production (Source Table No. 2).

Despite normal fluctuations on the different years for climatic reasons, the trend is for an apparent stabilization (Source Table No. 2).

Over the past four years we have seen a huge increase in the production of wines identified with the year or varieties, from a zero base, or no available data to 27,000 hectolitres (Source Table No. 2). In the same table (Table No. 2) we are able to verify the existence of a small decrease in the production of wines without PDO or PGI denominations that, however slight, may be a factor to consider in the future.

In general the production of wine in Portugal can be characterized by the stability in the volume of hectolitres produced annually and a slight decrease in wines qualified with PDO, which is, in my opinion, a strategic mistake because the focus must be on the PDO and not on the PGI, as has happened in the last decade.

As shown on the graph, there was a huge increase in the production of wines according to the certification standards between 2000 and 2006, followed by a slight decrease (Table No. 2).

Currently, most of the wine production is carried out by non-associative companies, although a large oscillation between the production of wines by the associative and non-associative companies must be registered In percentages, between 2000 and 2004, the associative enterprises (largely cooperatives) were responsible for producing the majority of the volume of Portuguese wines; however, since 2005 that trend reversed, with non-associative companies to register the increased production of national wines. This fact reveals the rigour and strategy on the quality of Portuguese wines and the focus on specialization and training of professionals in the wine sector. 

Also showed in percentages the non-associative companies represent the majority of the production of wines with PDO and PGI appellations, contrary to associative companies representing most of the production of wines without any denomination.

The analysis of Table No. 2 allows us to assess the production of wine at a national level, although it is considered that many of the data presented is subject to climatic variations of each year.

I believe that, in the near future, the production values of the associated companies will stabilize in the present values and thus represent a good percentage of national production. However it is of utmost importance that the associative companies change their wines' marketing strategy. Given that most of the wines without any certification are also from this sector of production companies, in a path to qualify and value such undertakings, it would be more profitable to choose the certification, adapting each case to the type of certification, control quality and depending on the strategy of each company. From my point of view it is essential that in the near future, associative companies meet the conditions to market wines with their brands using quality denomination.

As for non-associative companies, there is the temptation to create wines that are beyond the typicality of our country since they respond to the demands of international consumers that will easily identify the most popular varieties; however, this view represents a loss of Portuguese wine identity richness.

The focus on the grape varieties national wealth is particularly important when we move into the specialization in unique products in the world, with unique grape varieties and grape variety associations that are only possible to achieve in the Portuguese territory. With the evolution of different international markets, I believe that a globalization of wine consumption, the future of Portuguese wines seems quite positive if taken into account factors such as quality standards - already recognized worldwide - and marketing wines in limited quantities, with unique and distinctive characteristics, such as grape varieties, still associating these to the historical component from which region, for example Bucelas, Dão, Azores and Madeira regions.

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