March 16, 2011

BeeHind the Vine: Sandra Alves of Heredade do Esporao

Women are becoming a defining force in the wine scene as a result of their passion, drive and diverse approaches - not just in winemaking, but in marketing, viticulture, sales and hospitality. And being a woman who adores wine, I love to see these responsibilities evolving in the hands of smart, talented and passionate women, like Sandra Alves of Heredade do Esporao.

Sandra is responsible for the vintifications, stablization, blending and quality control of delicious Esporao white wines, and she was kind enough to take some time with Lil' Miss WinoBee to provide great insight and perspective on all things wine and woman!

What has your experience been like as a woman in wine and what do you see the role evolving to?
As a woman in wine, I hope that it will soon be seen as normal to find women in all aspects of the wine business, from winemakers, through marketing to managing wine companies. I believe it is most important to have a professional approach, to study, be aware of new trends, taste wine at every opportunity, always with passion and determination, and this will lead to success.

Tell us a little bit about Esporao wine and why its so special to you.
Esporao is one of the most famous and successful wineries in Portugal. When I was an enology student, I studied the Esporao winery and its wines as a case study because it was a relatively new wine producer that had achieved success in a short period of time. Soon after I was a trainee winemaker with Esporao which was like a dream for me, and then I became a full time winemaker and was able to learn a lot not just about winemaking but about wine culture which is very strong at Esporao. I continue to learn every day and that is why Esporao is so special to me.

If you were stranded on a dessert island and only had one bottle of Esporao, which one would it be?
I would be most unhappy to be stranded on a desert island mostly if I could only have one bottle of wine! But with some nice warm weather and a sandy beach, I would be happy with a cool, fresh bottle our single varietal Verdelho 2010.

What is your favorite Esporao and food pairing?
Indeed I have more than one favourite Esporao and food pairing, but at the moment, I would go for Bacalhau and Esporao Res White 2009.

What is your advice to individuals looking to learn more about wine?
Taste as often as you can, trying to understand and appreciate the wine, its flavours, texture, balance and structure, always thinking about the wine's gastronomic potential in terms of an ideal food pairing.