MESSIAS (or, how they are offically called: Sociedade Agrícola e Comercial dos Vinhos Messias, S.A.) is a fascinating company. It’s another example of how much success a family can have if everybody sticks together and every generation works for the next generation.
It all started in 1926, when Messias Baptiste founded the company. He was a businessman from the Bairrada-Region and he focused the first years on the wine from that region – but in 1934 he started to export Port Wine, too. This was the start of a beautiful business that is until today the backbone of the company.
Originally the company had no Quintas in the Douro Valley – they only had a place in the part of Gaia that was necessary to be allowed to export Port Wines (entreposto). But in 1956 they company finally acquired a property in the Douro Valley: The Quinta do Cachao near Ferradosa. Two years later the neighborn property (Quinta do Rei) was also bought and is today the “heart” of the operation in the Douro.
However, MESSIAS is one of the most complete wine companies in Portugal. I must confess that no other company comes to my mind with such a vast offering: Table and Port Wines from the Douro Region, the Dão Region, from Bairrada, also Vinho Verde and wine from the Beiras. Not only table and Port Wine are made – MESSIAS is also producing sparkling wines. It’s the philosophy of the company to acquire Quintas in each important wine region, to make sure that they can control the quality of the wines. That’s why they now own Quintas in the Dão and Bairrada Region – plus of course the two properties in the Douro Valley. The mind and management of the company continues to be in Mealhada (Bairrada) – like in the beginning of the family enterprise. As a small family company it’s very important not to make any costly mistakes – it’s very important to have a game-plan and not to spend money on things that are not needed. A lot of the existing vines have to be replanted over the next decade – and the company admits that due to those costs no further purchases of Quintas are planned. The main focus is currently on eno-tourismo – a lot of thoughts and money goes currently into preparing a visitor-center in Mealhada, which will open soon. Then MESSIAS will look at the operation in the Douro Valley, to participate in the ever increasing tourism of that region.
Messias Baptiste ran the company from 1926 until 1973 – and then a consortium of his sons and grandchildren took over. The CEO of the company is currently José Vigário, a grandson of Messias Baptise. But another generation, the fourth of the family, is also already involved in the management of the company. The company produces annually roughly 4.5 million bottles of wine – and approximately 2 million of them are Port Wine. The annual revenue is somewhere near the EUR 8.5 million mark – 60% thereof comes from the Port Wine.
The company produced much higher volumes of Port Wine a decade ago. They got hit by two developments: on the one side, the consumption of Port Wine has increased (in a society that has zero-tolerance towards drunk driving, a drink with 20% alcohol has a difficult stand; in a society that is concerned about diabetes and “unhealthy lifestyles”, a drink with 10+% sugar has a difficult stand) and on the other side many consumers have moved up the value-chain and drink now Port of higher quality. Messias was/is very strong in France, Belgium, Holland – all countries that liked always very much the young, light tawnies – which was the strength of MESSIAS. But now people start to be interested in “special category” Ports like LBV or Tawnies with an Indication of age. Also deteriorating economic conditions in several other of their main countries led to a reduction in demand (Angola and Brazil, for example). A little-known fun fact: No other Port Wine company exports more Port Wine to Brazil than MESSIAS! 22% of all exported Port Wines to Brazil are coming from MESSIAS. While Messias can be found in many wine stores / supermarkets as entry level Port Wine and it built its reputation on those wines, the companies can also produce high quality Port.
Severl medals that the company received over the last years for their wines confirms that.