The 'Father' of Alentejo Wines in a biographical film

This year Évora Wine takes place between 26 and 28 May and has a schedule full of news. One of the largest is a biographical documentary dedicated to one of the great men of wine in Portugal, the creator of Pêra Manca: Francisco Colaço do Rosário.

At a time when numerous events dedicated to wine are organized, with similar moments to each other, regardless of the region in which they take place, we have to see well the schedule of each of them to see what is really worth. And the seventh edition of Évora Wine will be worth it! It will have more than 200 wines in tasting, 40 associated producers, a record number, and the estimated receiving more than 7,000 visitors. But through tests, showcookings, awards, presentation of books and musical moments, something unmissable still emerges: the documentary dedicated to António Colaço do Rosário, an unprecedented project that makes known this unavoidable figure of the region; considered the father of Alentejo wines but also one of the main personalities of Portuguese oenology. (see movie trailer, here: ). (in the entrance photo, on the left, Francisco Colaço de Rosário as Confrere of the Confraria dos Enófilos do Alentejo, greeting the Minister of the Republic for the Azores, Laborinho Lúcio, at the Solar da Madre de Deus, at the time of the holding in Angra do Heroísmo of the 1st National Symposium of Báquicas and Gastronomic Confraternities. Photo (2004) Revista Verdelho, from confraria do Vinho Verdelho dos Biscoitos / Terceira Island).

The debut session of "Terroir – the Alentejo, its grape varieties and the man who thought the wines" is scheduled for May 27, at 4 pm, in the Auditorium of the Eugénio de Almeida Foundation, one of the wineries where he worked and created the mythical Pêra Manca, one of the great Portuguese classic reds. The session will be repeated the next day, may 28, at 16h, in the Grand Auditorium of the University of Évora - Colégio Espírito Santo. The film features the production of António Menêzes; director of António Menêzes & Rietske van Raaij; and the executive production was in charge of António Menêzes and Teresa Colaço do Rosário (daughter of Francisco Colaço do Rosário, who also appears in the film talking about her father, as well as other relevant figures of Portuguese).

The project was sponsored by the Eugénio de Almeida Foundation, CVRA and the Alentejo Regional Directorate of Culture and has support for the production of Esporão; Alentejo Tourism, E.R.T.; the Confraternity of the Alentejo Enophiles; university of Évora; the Borba Winery; of the Great Commenda; and the Adega Cooperativa de Vidigueira, Cuba and Alvito. If we think that there is no documentary in Portugal that makes known unavoidable figures of the world of wine at the national level, we are, then, facing a biographical film but, more than that, a historical project that not only makes known the personality of man but also the wine reality of the country of his time.  

For those who study about wine, the figure of Francisco António Colaço do Rosário does not require presentations. Founding partner (1991) of the Confraternity of The Oenophiles of Alentejo, Escanção-Mor from 1991 to 2006 and Confrade de Honra (2000), he has since entered the School of Agricultural Regents of Évora since his entry in 1962, the admiration, respect and friendship of all those who, for professional, academic or personal reasons, have had the privilege and pleasure of relating to him. Thus, according to producer and director António Menêzes, this is a "historical document, for 'future memory', based on testimonies of people who knew Colaço do Rosário and who, in different phases, went through with him a very important stage of contemporary history of Alentejo viticulture: the recognition of alentejo as a region producing quality wines. It is also a way of perpetualing the image and work of an oenologist in search of the identity of Alentejo wine."

At the base of this documentary are three major interviews with eng. Colaço do Rosário, made on video in 2004. It speaks of the history of Alentejo wines, the creation of cooperative wineries, the famous PROVA, the Alentejo WineMaking Project, which he coordinated between 1977 and 1979 and his participation in the genesis of wine projects of Esporão, adega da Cartuxa/Fundação Eugénio de Almeida and Comenda Grande, among others. "If Alentejo wines currently have exceptional qualities and enjoy well-deserved prestige in the national and international markets, they owe it, innocucellarly, to the action of the scientist and researcher Professor Engineer Francisco António Colaço do Rosário. He was, in fact, the pioneer of the creation of the new Alentejo wines, with special mention for those produced in the district of Évora, city where he lived more than half of his life", also reveals António Menêzes in a statement.

A remarkable career path

Born on December 23, 1935 in the lower Alentejo, in the parish of Messejana, in the municipality of Aljustrel, Colaço do Rosário was the son of farmers with possessions that gave him a necessary training. He graduated from the Instituto Superior de Agronomia, in which he later taught Technology and Industries with specialization in Oenology, his great passion. In 1962 he moved to Évora, to teach at the School of Agricultural Regents, an institution where he becomes Deputy Director and will remain until 1972, the date of its extinction. That's when he started his career as a researcher, who will continue in the following years as a lecturer at the University of Évora, without changing places of work, since it inherits the best staff of the School of Agricultural Regents and their facilities. After attending an internship at the Wine University of Geisemheim he has been embred in several studies and projects: "Characterization of wines from alentejo cooperative wineries", with the support of the Planning Commission of the Southern Region and after the Alentejo Region Coordination Commission, "Classification of Portuguese grape varieties by Microvinification of the University of Évora" and "Introduction of certified grafted bacelo in Portugal",, involving the University of Évora and the National Agronomic Station – Department of Phytopathology of Oeiras, with co-financing of German technology transfer. Colaço do Rosário extends his collaboration to the foundation of Finagra – Adega do Esporão, by José Roquete, and for many years works as an oenologist for the Eugénio d'Almeida Foundation, being the driver of the Cartuxa project, and in the development of which helps the recovery of almost lost indigenous varieties (notably in the vineyard of Pêra Manca, with five centuries of existence) and the improvement of others, the introduction of new methods, such as cold winemaking. With this ensures the technical and scientific development to the wines of the region, gains prestige throughout the world and at the University of Évora, where he continues as a professor and researcher, in the company of his great friend, João Araújo, to do school influencing the formation of new winemakers. Both will join forces for the creation of the Center for Vitiviniculture Studies in the Eborense academy, a fundamental step for the rebirth and consolidation of the winery Alentejo.

The scientific technical group of the University of Évora associated with the project of characterization of the indigenous varieties.
Francisco Colaço do Rosário, is the first from the right.

As was inevitable, he also collaborated in the creation of the Alentejo Regional Wine Commission, an organization of technical monitoring and certification, and was in the gestation of the Confraria dos Enofilos do Alentejo.And in the midst of so many investigations, experiences, works produced, lectures, conference and advice, still arranged time to teach at the Agrarian School of Beja, in addition to teaching at the University of Évora. In 1997 the Portuguese awarded him with the Commendal of the Order of Santiago da Espada and in 2000 the Chamber of Évora awarded him the Medal of Municipal Merit, Gold Class.

The Father of Alentejo Wines, as so many nicknamed him, left us on January 20, 2008, after a prolonged illness, but worked to the end. At the time, his colleague Mota Barroso, from the Department of Philotechnics of the University of Évora, said: "The viticulture of alentejo was not born with Colaço do Rosário, but it was with him that he gained the respect and national admiration, which reached maturity, which began to count for the statistics of the National Product. Its name will forever be linked to the demarcation of the region as a producer of quality wines, by the studies it has carried out under the Prova program, but also by the obstacles it has managed to remove to fulfill its dream." He added: "He was above all an Alentejo of faith and with an immense faith in this land, in this land where he was born and for which he worked a whole life.From a rare upright and frontality in these times, he has always been able to put his principles ahead of any compromise." On top of all this, his image was a great distinction, nobility of character, unexceeded chivalry and exceptional affability at work. He was a Lord in the true sense of the word.