Barros, Almeida & Ca. is not as well-known as it should be… it’s an interesting company, which at some point was responsible for 6% of the total Port production. Compared with the age of many other Port Wine companies they are quite young – just a little bit over 100 years old.
It was Manuel de Almeida who founded the company in 1913, under the name “Almeida & Ca.”. Due to the amazing book “Dicionario Ilustrado do Vinho do Porto” (Manuel Pintao/Carlos Cabral) Manuel de Almeida was born 1898 in Vila Nova de Gaia. Which means that he was 15 years old when he founded the company. Which might or might not be true.. I know that many companies were founded by quite young people – but 15 seems to be too young…
He was an amazing person and was from 1948 to 1953 the president of the very import “Gremio dos Exportadores de Vinho do Porto”. When he died in 1974 he was for sure very proud about what he had achieved during his lifetime. He had been able to create a real Port Wine empire.
He got help from his brother-in-law. There are rumors that Manuel Moreira de Barros was a simple office boy when he and the sister of Manuel de Almeida fell in love and married. No family member could be office boy – and so Manuel Moreira de Barros was made partner of the firm and in 1920 the name of the enterprise changed to “Barros, Almeida & Ca.”. After a few good years very difficult times started – first the big depression, then the second world war. But the company was very well managed and survived those days by being very careful and frugal with their cash. They were able to acquire other, well established companies during those years. The biggest coup was the purchase of Kopke in 1952. By then, Barros, Almeida had already bought Hutcheson & Co., Pinto dos Santos Jr, Antonio da Rocha Leao and Feuerheerd Bros. They had also launched a few more brands on their own: Vieira de Sousa & Ca. and The Douro Wine, Shippers and Growers Association. By adding Kopke (supposingly founded in 1638) to the portfolio of companies they had now the bragging rights to own the oldest Port Wine company of Portugal.
Main markets were the Benelux countries that liked their cheap Rubies and Tawnies: France, Holland, Belgium. Germany was also an important market.
It all changed in 2006 when Barros, Almeida & Ca. experienced finally the feeling how it is to be taken over… SOGEVINUS bought the company and brand.
While Barros, Almeida & Ca. owned two Quintas in the Douro Valley, Quinta Dona Matilda and Quinta Sao Luiz, only one of these remained with Barros, Almeida: Quinta Sao Luiz. Quinta Dona Matilda wasn’t part of the deal with SOGEVINUS and stayed with the Barros family. SOGEVINUS is owned by a Spanish bank: CAIXANOVA. CAIXANOVA was bought by the Venezuelan bank BANESCO. BANESCO is owned by Juan Carlos Escotet, a billionaire from Venezuela. This man owns now not only BARROS but also Kopke, Calem and Gilbert’s.
The main markets for Barros have traditionally been Holland, France, Belgium, Germany and Portugal. As so many other family-owned companies, Barros specialized early in Tawnies. While they do often launch also Vintage Ports, the real quality of the company becomes visible in the aged Tawnies.
Barros has no Quinta and no “real” lodge for tourists to visit… the best way to get to know their wines is a visit to the wine shop of SOGEVINUS in the Port Wine district in Gaia. Here we can drink several of their interesting Tawnies by the glass. These old wines come of course with quite a price tag – but that shouldn’t be a surprise for something so old, so good and so rare.
A great overview of the quality of Barros can be gained by a Barros tasting pack in the SOGEVINUS wine shop. It contains a glass of Barros White Port, LBV, Vintage 1991, a 40 Year old Tawny and Barros Colheita 1964. The place is nice, the staff is extremely friendly and very knowledgeable and I confess that I often stop by here just to drink such a tasting pack.
It’s nice to see that SOGEVINUS tries to keep the identities of their brands separated from each other. The old wine stocks are not mixed with each other – each brand has their own stock and makes their own wines – which makes tastings so much more interesting.
Grupo SOGEVINUS Fine Wines
Av. Diogo Leite 344, 4400-111 Vila Nova de Gaia, Portugal
Tel.: +351 22 374 66 60
SOGEVINUS Wine Shop
Av. Ramos Pinto 280, 4400 Vila Nove de Gaia
Tel.: +351 91 163 728 96