The 52nd F.I.C.B. International Congress opened on Saturday 27 May with a speech by the President of the Portuguese Republic Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa and a message from Eduardo-Vitor Rodrigues, the Mayor of Vila Nova de Gaia, where the Congress is based. The President of F.I.C.B., Alan Bryden, then underlined the joy of the reunion after a long period troubled by the pandemic, during which the federation and its members had nevertheless maintained links and initiatives. The President of the Portuguese Federation of Wine Brotherhoods, Pedro Rego, and the President of the Congress Organising Committee, Albino Jorge de Sousa, then welcomed the 250 or so participants and presented the fantastic programme that would take them to the most beautiful wine-growing regions of Portugal and the country’s leading centres of wine tourism.
The Portuguese wine brotherhoods have made a major contribution to this rich programme, demonstrating their vitality in the service of the traditions and promotion of the wines of this country, the 4th largest producer in Europe and the 8th largest in the world.
On 28 May, the delegates gathered in the magnificent church of the Sacred Heart in Viana do Castelo, in the far north of the country, for a mass celebrated by the bishop of the town and broadcast live on Portuguese television.
They then visited the Quinta del Castelo in the Vinho Verde wine-growing region, where they had lunch and enjoyed the local wines. A grand parade in brotherhood costumes then took place through the streets of the town, concluding with the ceremony of induction into the Confraria do Vinho Verde.
The day of 29 May was devoted to a visit to the Douro region and its tiered vineyards on the banks of the river.
The visit to the Quinta de Pacheca, one of the region’s emblematic productions, will leave an unforgettable impression on the participants, as much for the beauty of the place as for the quality of the wines and the gastronomy, and the happy atmosphere of the banquet.
The return journey to Porto was made by boat, passing through the highest locks in Europe (32m) and arriving in Gaia to much fanfare.
May 30th kicked off with the Congress’ “Scientific Forum”, with presentations on:
– the contribution of the Port and Douro Wines Institute to the World Health Organisation’s integrated “one health” approach (human, animal, plant and environmental health) and to the necessary adaptations in viticulture to the changes affecting the planet
– wine and culture in Portugal
– the contribution of wine brotherhoods to wine marketing
– corks, wine and sustainable development
– the wine-growing landscapes of the Alto Douro, recognised by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.
This was followed by a tasting of wines from the region and those brought in by a number of delegations, with a special mention for the presentation by the Knights of the Vine of Japan of a selection of wines produced in Japan …
The afternoon was marked by a magnificent parade in full regalia and fanfare through Vila Nova de Gaia, which continued through the city of Porto to the historic Customs House, where the ceremony of induction into the Brotherhood of the Wines of Porto was held.
This was also the venue for the Congress gala dinner, which ended with fado music and a fireworks display that set the city sky alight and brought this magnificent edition of our international congress to a fitting close!
Our thanks go to the organisers, Albino Jorge de Sousa, President of the F.I.C.B. 2023 Congress, and Pedro Rego, President of the Portuguese Federation of Wine Brotherhoods, and their teams, who managed this wonderful event so magnificently.
The extension of the Congress took the 120 or so registered participants to the Lisbon and Alentejo region.
A stopover on the way south provided an opportunity to meet the Wine brotherhood of My Lady of the Tagus, of which Pedro Rego is Grand Master, at the Alpiarça wine estate, where the Mayor and the President of the Tagus Region Wine Commission welcomed the participants, followed by a superb meal and some fine wine tasting.
June 1 was devoted to a visit to Evora, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which is preparing to become the European Capital of Culture in 2027. The Wine Brotherhood of the Oenophiles of Alentejo had organised the induction ceremony in the Church of Saint Francis, famous for its collection of azulejos. After a procession in full regalia through the streets of the town, the Mayor of Evora welcomed all the participants for a banquet in the Convent of Espinhero, with a magnificent selection of Alentejo wines offered by local producers. The afternoon concluded with a visit to the neighbouring Cartuxa (“La Chartreuse”) estate before returning to Lisbon for dinner.
On 2 June, the programme took participants to Oeiras, to the palace of the Marquis of Pombal, whose premises house the cellars of the Carcavalos wines, small-volume mutated wines for which the region is famous. Lunch was held in the gardens in glorious sunshine, with a programme of folk dances organised by the host Wine brotherhood of Carcavalos. On the way back, stops at the Belem Tower and the “Monument of Discoveries” provided an opportunity to recall the glorious past of the Portuguese explorers of the 15th and 16th centuries. The extension ended with a gala dinner at the famous Casino de l’Estoril, hosted by the local council.
Click here to access the “travel diary of a participant: Claire Cuccio, Gentle Lady, Knights of the Vine of America “