Wine production in Portugal was defined by particular socio‑political circumstances during the closing twenty‑five years of the 20th century. A domestic market shielded from competition from wines produced in the European Union and the new world of wine, the “garantie de bonne fin” (system of guaranteed distillation), and a sales monopoly in its colonies were all market factors which gave little impetus to innovation in respect of the traditional, tried and tested methods of production. The independent marketing strategy followed by port wine producers and the export‑oriented joint venture companies proved to be exceptions to this rule.

The Portuguese wine industry collapsed as a result of the mighty winds of change which swept through the market from about 1975 onwards and exposed the fragile state in which domestic wine production found itself. Inadequate conservation breeding and a lack of a formal policy on grapevine varieties, not to mention manual viticultural practices, insufficient sanitation, and a lack of control of temperatures and oxidation during winemaking, all required urgent innovation measures both in the vineyard and in the cellar. To this end, research and technology transfer was required, and was promoted with vigour. Adapting the quality of the wine to international standard followed, although the distances to many of the new markets in different parts of the world presented a considerable challenge for a country as small as Portugal.