Maria Manuel Maia

Maria Manuel Maia

Poças Júnior (Viticulturist)

Passion about the natural world was her guide.

We were delighted to be able to meet with Maria Manuel Maia, the viticulturist at Poças Júnior, an independent producer of Port and Douro wines and owned by the same family for four generations. Maria was visiting with Francisca van Zeller at Quinta Vale D. Maria to discuss strategies related to D'Uva, of which she is also a member. D'Uva had just received an invitation to have a booth at an important technology-oriented event scheduled in Lisbon for the next day.

Maria is warm, personable, and quietly self-confident. She was born in Porto, as was her great grandfather, Manoel Poças, a brandy trader who established the family business in 1918. He received the land that is now the heart of the Poças Júnior wine estates as a payment for a debt. Since that time, four generations of the Poças family, including Maria, have shared his passion for wine and tradition while also introducing innovations and change in managing the three estates comprising the winery.

Similar to Francisca, these deep family roots were central to Maria's deciding on her career path. From an early age, she knew she was passionate about sustainability and “working outside.” She studied Agricultural Engineering at the Universidade de Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro. During her studies at the university, she “became aware of how proud I would be if I could work in the field that my ancestors had handed down to me.”

Upon graduating in January 2005, Maria decided to take her internship in Italy, after her teacher presented her with that option. This internship turned out to be crucial step in her career: she learned that doing research was too far removed from her passion, working outside “in the natural world.” Coincidentally, the person who was the viticulturist with the family estates left for another opportunity that year, and Maria was offered the position of viticulturist. She accepted the offer in late 2005, less than a year after receiving her degree.

Today, Maria is in charge of the viticulture for all three quintas within the Poças wine estate, a demanding position that she finds exciting and rewarding. She is involved in all major initiatives such as heading up the recent replanting of 13 hectares of vineyards at one of the three quintas. She loves her work although her many responsibilities often take time away from the vineyards. One example is increasingly being pulled into taking on a public face and engaging in marketing.

Work and Family. Maria noted that when you work in a family company, you know you have to produce results. “You do not worry about having weekends.” She married in 2016, and she and her spouse welcomed their first child in 2017. Despite her many responsibilities at the quintas, Maria feels confident that she and her spouse will be successful in managing the changes that a child brings to their lives. Her husband, a lover of Port wine, is flexible, social, and open to embracing the changes and complexities that accompany family life with a viticulturist!

The Port and Douro Wines. Poças wine estates produces award-winning Douro ports and white and red table wines. Its first Coroa d'Ouro red wine was released in 1990, and the products have been expanded to include Poças Reserva, Vale de Cavalos, and Símbolo. The winery's wide range of highly regarded White, Ruby, and Tawny Ports and Vintage Ports are made solely from grapes grown on the various Poças quintas.

Vintage Ports are the finest of the Ruby Ports. The Poças 2009 Vintage Port was listed among Wine Spectator's Top 100 Wines for 2012. For Tawny Ports, excellence is achieved with the Colheitas, the finest lots of wine from a single vintage that are aged in wood for a minimum of seven years. Wine Spectator recently recognized several of Poças premium tawny ports. Its Colheita 1996, received 92 points, the Colheita 1992 and 1995, 93 points, the Colheita 1997, 94 points, and its 40-year-old Tawny Port garnered 95 points. Maria presented us with the gift of a Colheita 1992 Porto, which we very much enjoyed sharing with our family.