Jazz Musician & Esporão CEO, João Roquette, Adds “Personal Sustainability” to Family Wine Company’s Sustainability Efforts
João Roquette is the youngest of six siblings and the CEO and Chairman of Esporão Group, a family-owned wine company that is one of Portugal’s major wine producers.
He is the only sibling among the family-wine-company’s second generation to work for the company directly.
And in his spare time João is also a jazz musician.
I recently connected with the jazz-playing CEO during a zoom tasting of some of his family’s wines from the Douro and Alentejo wine regions of Portugal.
I’ve enjoyed Esporão wines over the years, and have been impressed by the company’s wines and sustainability efforts which I’ve written about before which is why I was curious to learn about the company’s foray into the area “personal sustainability.”
But first more on João as it’s not everyday you meet a CEO of a wine major wine company who is also a jazz musician.
Meet Esporão CEO & Jazz Musician, João Roquette
João has been a musician all his life.
He studied piano and jazz in his youth.
Every week he and his band gather for a six-hour jam session as they complete work on their album that will be a fusion of jazz and alternative rock.
João’s musical influences include Miles Davis, Duke Ellington, Radio Head and Pink Floyd, and he also loves hip-hop.
While he may rock out after hours in his day job as the Esporão Group’s CEO and as January of this year also Chairman, João is squarely focused on the company’s sustainability efforts.
Esporão has over 300 full-time employees and exports 65% of its wines to 50 countries of which the U.S. is a major market.
Esporão Reaches Major Organic Certification Milestone
Esporão is a leading certified organic producer in Portugal and one of the largest organic wine producers in the world.
Beginning in 2008 the company began its journey towards organic certification.
In 2019 all of Esporão’s vineyards in the Alentejo reached certified-organic status, and in 2020 all its vineyards in the Douro reached certified-organic status.
While the wet weather conditions and resulting disease pressure in the company’s vineyards in the Vinho Verde region prevent it from being fully-organic, Esporão is conducting extensive soil studies to learn how it can avoid the use of synthetic chemicals.
Towards its sustainability efforts Esporão uses composting, soil maintenance, hedges, beneficial insects, natural pest control (including bats) and animal grazing such as sheep.
The company is committed to being organic in order to enhance the quality of its products and to support environmental preservation.
Esporão Reveals Focus on “Personal Sustainability”
Esporão has focused on environmental, social and cultural sustainability in the past, but João recently revealed the company’s focus on “personal sustainability.”
So, what is “personal sustainability? – I was curious too.
According to João “personal sustainability” is about adopting a “slow-forward lifestyle” as a counter-culture rejection of “fast and cheap.”
It’s about, “Doing things slowly so there is detail and perspective” notes João.
As a company, family and community stakeholder, Esporão wants to recognize that it is important to “slow down, take a breath and appreciate all that surrounds us.”
How will this new focus on personal sustainability affect Esporão’s wines?
While I don’t quite know yet, having a staff that embodies the no-short-cuts, slow-forward lifestyle may have a positive downstream impact on the company’s resulting wines.
And even if it doesn’t, I’m impressed by the jazz-rocker-CEO’s efforts to bring more mindfulness and deliberateness to the work environment at his family’s wine company.
While we await the results of Esporão’s personal sustainability focus, here are some of Esporão wines to look out for and enjoy in the meantime.
Portugal is known for its white blends and red blends of which these are good examples.
- Herdade do Esporão, Colheita Red 2018, Vinho Regional Alentejano, Portugal (Wine Casual, 90 Points)
- Herdade do Esporão, Reserva White 2020, Alentejo, Portugal (Wine Casual, 91 Points)
- Herdade do Esporão, Reserva Red 2018, Alentejo DOC, Portugal (Wine Casual, 91 Points)