James Mayor interviews Rita Marques, the changing face of Douro winemaking
24 October 2019

Rita Marques is a member of the small but expanding circle of Portugal’s female wine producers and winemakers, in an industry that is traditionally male-dominated.

Rita Marques talks with humour about her profession. She has spent a considerable amount of time outside Portugal learning about wine: studies in Bordeaux, work experience in California, winemaking ventures in South Africa and New Zealand…. She believes it is important for oenologists and producers of the Douro to taste and see what is being made in other great wine regions.

Rita Marques readily expresses her indebtedness to Dirk Niepoort, with whom she worked, prior to creating her own wine label Conceito in 2006.

An innovator herself, Rita considers winemakers need to learn from their elders and, in turn, pass on that knowledge to the next generation. She reflects that the Douro wine profession has become better at sharing. “We don’t play against each other, and this makes the industry unusual.”

Conceito owns 86 hectares of vineyards, all of which are organically farmed. Rita Marques says, “as a consumer, I’d rather buy from someone who protects the environment”.