Portugal joined the European Community (later to be the European Union) in 1986. Numerous restrictive wine trade and production practices had to be liberalized on joining, the co-operatives’ monopolies were ended, and Portuguese quality wine categories and regulations were brought into line with those of other European countries. The Instituto da Vinha e do Vinho (IVV – Institute of Vine and Wine) was formed to oversee the new wine industry, along with a local Comissão Vitivinícola Regional (CVR – Regional Vine & Wine Commission) for each wine region.
European loans and grants became available to create modern vineyards and new stainless steel wineries, and in addition European investment in general infrastructure across the country made a huge difference to the wine business.
Throughout the 1990s and the first decade of this century, oenology courses have developed and blossomed in Portugal’s universities; well trained at home, young Portuguese winemakers are to be found gaining winemaking experience all over the world.
Portugal still has its co-operatives, some of them truly excellent, some finding survival hard in modern times. There are still highly successful large wine companies. New, however, over the past quarter decade is a plethora of independent wine estates usually called as quintas and small producers.
Grape producers who once delivered all their grapes to co-operatives are building their own wineries, making their own individual wines. Some vineyards are new and modern, the grape varieties selected for the modern market; some are decades or even centuries old, mixes of ancient grape varieties, giving small yields of concentrated, flavorsome grapes.
Entrepreneurs and enthusiasts are selecting promising new vineyard sites, or reclaiming former vineyard land. It’s an ongoing revolution.
And Portugal today has a selection of fine wines to offer the world as never before.