Offley’s history goes back to 1737, the year in which the Englishman William Offley founded the company to which he gave his own name. It is however from the 19th century onwards, the company acquired a new dynamism. In 1831, Joseph James Forrester, a nephew of the founder, joined the company. An academic and an artist, James Forrester was the first person to map the River Douro and its region, as well as to draw maps that became works of reference. He also undertook numerous wine growing studies and left important graphical works – paintings, drawings and sketches – in which he shows all his passion for the Douro.
James Forrester’s contribution to the development of the region where Port Wine is made, as well as to its trade, earned him the title of Baron given to him by the King of Portugal.
Throughout the years the company invested in the production and marketing of fortified wines, in the planting of new vineyards and in the re-planting of existing ones (as happened at Quinta da Boavista), built and maintained unique ageing cellars at Vila Nova de Gaia, and expanded the world-wide distribution of the OFFLEY brand.
In 1997 OFFLEY was purchased by Sogrape, a wine-producing family company of international dimension, with quality wines and a strong focus on volume brands so as to meet market demands.
When in 1989 he entered the winemaking team led by master Fernando Nicolau de Almeida, Luis Sottomayor knew he was in the right company to take part in making the finest wines of the Douro. Today, his skills recognized and the quality of his work proven, he heads the Oenology team for Casa Ferreirinha and all Sogrape Port Wine brands, a responsibility he assumed in January 2003.
Although Luís Sottomayor’s career trajectory has afforded him enriching experiences in several other national and international wine-growing regions, his commitment to Douro and Port Wines is unquestionable and had so far seen him awarded the 2010 Winemaker of the Year Award in the Fortified Wines category by Revista de Vinhos, one of the nation’s most prestigious wine publications. In 2012 he was nominated for the Winemaker of the Year accolade at the International Wine Challenge and eventually went on to receive yet another distinction from Revista de Vinhos, this time for outright 2012 Winemaker of the Year.
Author of world-famous wines such as Barca Velha and Quinta da Leda, and of the outstanding 2011 Vintages presented by both Ferreira and Sandeman, Luis expresses great pride in the opportunity he has been given to perpetuate a story without parallel in the world of wines, whilst highlighting the creativity and daring and of those who first set out, unaided by the technological advances of today, to produce wines of a time-defying excellence.
Born in Moreira da Maia, married and a father of three children, Luís Sottomayor has a full academic training that includes courses in Oenology from the University of Dijon in Burgundy, France and Charles Sturt University, Australia, in addition to a post-graduate course in Œnology at the Escola Superior de Biotecnologia from Universidade Católica do Porto.
Arguing that the secret of great wines rests on the passion of those who write their history in the vineyards and cellars, Luís likes to emphasize the effort made at Sogrape Vinhos to preserve and enhance the legacy inherited from large and prestigious brands, by combining the values of tradition with emerging desires and trends for the future.
An avowed football supporter, Luís Sottomayor devotes some of his leisure time to rugby, horse-riding and hunting.