José Maria da Fonseca
What is it that fuels the Soares Franco family’s passion and commitment to producing outstanding wines at the J.M. da Fonseca winery? Perhaps it is their venerable, centuries-old history, their considerable breadth of experience across Portugal’s top viticultural regions, or their commitment to the people and land behind each bottle. For seven generations, J. M. da Fonseca wines have been enjoyed around the world. It is this dedication to quality production year after year that makes this family the leading ambassadors for fine Portuguese wines.
José Maria da Fonseca started his namesake company in 1834 in the Setúbal Peninsula, Portugal’s stunningly beautiful coastal region. Starting with the production of Moscatels de Setúbal, sweet, fortified wines, for which Fonseca helped earn the D.O.C. status for, he quickly started gaining recognition at home and abroad.
Forward thinking and adventurous, Fonseca made history in 1850 when he bottled the first still Portuguese red wine from his Periquita vineyard. So impressed by the quality of Periquita and the portfolio of wines, the then King of Portugal bestowed royal order on "the winery facilities of Mr. Fonseca in recognition of their modernity, cleanliness and efficiency." Fortunately for the rest of the wine loving world, the family has taken this order very seriously and continues to execute all aspects of winemaking with absolute dedication, care and innovation.
Throughout the generations, J.M. da Fonseca has expanded into some of Portugal’s top viticultural regions, including Domini and Domini Plus from the Douro Valley in the north and José de Sousa and Ripanço, in the southern Alentejo region.
The largest vineyard holdings are in Setúbal, home to the Periquita range of wines. The Villa Nogueira de Azetão estate, where the vineyards are planted, lie a short distance from Lisbon, across the Tagus River. Here, vineyards enjoy the benefits of a sun-drenched maritime climate and a varied soil composition that incorporates elements of sand, clay and lime.
Sixth generation and head winemaker, Domingos Soares Franco, along with his team of enologists, have undertaken a wide range of research, experiments and innovative techniques that continues to shape and progress Portuguese viticulture.
Promoting these efforts is seventh generation António Maria Soares Franco, nephew of Domingos, who leads the marketing and commercial components of the winery. Tireless ambassadors, António, Domingos and the entire J.M. da Fonseca winery family work hard to produce and promote fine Portuguese wines around the world, as they have for nearly 200 years.