MEET THE FAMILY
“I am a part of the Douro and the Douro is part of me. This absolutely defines my way of living.”
When I was born, my uncle Luis put a glass of Port under my nose, and that smell and sense of place has never left me since. It is in the Douro that I keep alight my adventurous and enthusiastic spirit.
I am proud to have contributed to and developed wine projects that are today a symbol of the new Douro – a Douro capable of producing strong and established high-quality DOC wines, alongside high quality Ports, through the preservation of the indigenous grape varieties, traditional plantings, and both ancient and innovative techniques.
I have been fortunate to have been able to fulfill my vision for the region, in placing it alongside the greatest wine regions of the world, together with the Douro Boys, of which I am a founding member. All five of us share a pioneering vision for the region and its wines.
Today, I am focused on reinventing the legacy and experience of the over 400 years family history in working this land and its wines, with the relaunch of Van Zellers & Co. A deep understanding of Port, the Douro and its wines in the world, has lead us to describe our wines under three unique pillars: Crafted by Hand, Crafted by Nature and Crafted by Time.
Through this approach, we hope to create a more profound mark on your experience and invite you to join us on our new journey, where we can share our legacy with you. Nothing would bring greater meaning to this new phase of our family life, than making you a part of this chapter and sharing in the pleasure of experiencing the Douro with us and tasting our wines.
“The Douro is my homeland, and I grew to understand it in a very particular way. It's what I hope to bring to you when we are seated together having lunch at our home.”
The smells, the summer heat, the olives, the wines… I guess that is why I represent our Crafted by Nature wines. My nature is rooted in this region, as well as my career path. The Douro is where I hold the strongest childhood memories, and it has been one of my main life challenges to keep my family a part of the region. Before this new venture with Van Zellers and Co., my husband and I brought life and light to my family’s estate: Quinta Vale D. Maria, buried deep in the Torto River valley and without ever having a name for itself, we created our first Douro family home there.
Van Zeller’s & Co is now the legacy we would like to leave for our children, and where we will create new memories for our growing family. My life story in the Douro has also expanded to the tourism sector, as I have worked at the first five-star hotel in the region since its opening, as the PR and Communications Manager. It has been a joy to see how the Douro has become one of the key destinations for those looking for an authentic experience, in a World Heritage Site like the Douro region.
Beyond being the mother of three amazing children, who represent the 15th generation of this family, I now also wear the Public Relations hat at Van Zellers & Co. For our family today, a journey is worth being made when it is shared. That is why I look forward to welcoming you to our home, where we can share in life stories as we open our Van Zellers & Co wines.
“I have a genuine curiosity for the world, it’s stories and people. This makes me a natural ambassador for the Douro and its wines, a place I have been fortunate to grow up in and hold the deepest and happiest memories.”
It was here where I came across people from all walks of life and the world, and nothing fascinates me more than meeting other people. That is why I studied history and journalism, before undertaking viticulture and enology. I think that this path in life has led me to enjoy hearing and telling stories and explore further my creative side.
The spirit of joy and union felt during the harvest time; combined with the smell of the lagares, the first rains that hit the warm schist, the cypress, citrus, olive and fig trees so commonly found in this region, the rock rose and the sound of people singing during the treading of grapes, has always magnetized me back into the wine world.
This nature so particular to wine making is part of my identity and it is the reason I resonate with the Crafted by Nature wines we hold in the Van Zellers & Co portfolio. I have been fortunate to have had diverse opportunities in the wine world and to tell many different stories.
I am happiest working with my family, where today I am responsible for Marketing and Communication. In recent years I headed the PR and Communication Department at Aveleda, where today I am part of the Sustainability team. I still maintain the company's Instagram project, Provas em Casa, where Portuguese wines are explained in a simple and approachable way.
Communication is part of my nature. Sharing life experiences and stories is what keeps me looking at life as a glass half full.
“People say I am starting to sound like my father. But I am Cristiano, the son: I do take after both my parents in my determined, pragmatic and witty sense of humour.”
I guess this is how most people see me and I consider this to be accurate, modesty aside. I have lived farthest from the Douro since the age of 18, as I am a doctor currently practicing in the UK. But emotionally the Douro is, and will be, the place where I enjoy the best of what life has to offer: friends and family.
For me, the Douro has a particularity: time seems to freeze, when we face the infinitude of the vineyards’ landscape at a summer day’s sundown.
I often recall the moments I have lived there in every important phase of my life. Time has this magical capacity to condense a multitude of stories and experiences, and this is something I believe our Crafted by Time Wines and Colheita Ports can show.
Soon, I will return to Portugal to continue my practice, and the Douro is definitely what keeps this country so present. I look forward to being back to enjoy the pleasures of this renewed Van Zeller and Co. with all our friends.
“As the youngest child of this family, I stand for Van Zellers and Co. as a young footballer stands when facing the field in one of his first games: full of energy and drive for the unknown challenge.”
I guess this somehow relates to one of our missions, here at Van Zellers and Co. – to represent and drive Port and Douro wines for the young consumer. As an avid football player and a sportsman at large, it is the capacity of the hand of man, the physical and psychological strength we uphold to face nature’s and life’s challenges ahead that fascinates me. It is not a coincidence, therefore, that I see myself more connected in the wines Crafted by Hand. These wines reflect the work and mastery of the hand of man. It is the hand of man that plants the vine, cares for it, and picks the luscious grapes this plant produces. It also blends and mixes the wine to find the perfect result.
Although the Douro is intrinsically part of my life since I was born, I am still eager to learn about its meanings and our family legacy in the business. This enthusiastic thrill for what we do at Van Zellers and Co. is what I hope to share with you when we meet.