It was in 1978 that David Baverstock came to Portugal for his holidays, and met Maria Antonieta, the love of his life, in a beach at Costa da Caparica. Four years later he would return to Portugal for good, doing what he’s still doing, working as head winemaker at Herdade Esporão.
David Baverstock was born in Australia and got his oenology training there, at Barossa Valley, near Adelaide, in the 70’s. At the end of his studies, moved by a desire to experiment his learnings in the field, he journeys to Europe, to participate in the harvests in France and in Germany. After that, in 1978, he decided to go to Portugal on holidays, and that’s when his life changed. At praia da Mata, one of Costa da Caparica’s beaches, he met Maria Antonieta, the woman he’s been with ever since. He told Diário de Notícias that they lived together in Lisbon for a while, but he returned to Australia to work in winemaking, and soon Maria joined him there.
Some time after Maria joined him across the world, she felt unbearably homesick. So in 1982, David decided they would return to Portugal for good. It was difficult at first, he remembers, as he couldn’t find a job and the road system wasn’t yet as good as the rest of Europe. Every trip was exhausting. Still, he persevered and started to learn portuguese, falling deeper and deeper in love with our people. He never hesitates in confirming that the portuguese are one of the most friendly people in the world, and that the cuisine is amazing. The best grilled fish, seafood rice like he’d never tasted before and Alentejo-style pork that he so much enjoys. The only dish that he found peculiar was the cod, but today it’s among his favorites.
His first job in Portugal was with the Croft group, making them move to Oporto, with their first son, who was born in 1983. This allowed David to acquire more experience in the field, and he isn’t afraid to say that Portugal is a special case in the winemaking sector. “It’s fascinating that such a small country is home to more than 250 indigenous grape varieties. It’s our duty to preserve them”.
After his year-long initial professional stage in Portugal, he worked for Scotland’s Symington, and in 1992 was invited to return to Portugal to lead the winemaking department at Herdade Esporão, where he still works today. He now holds dual citizenship and an award given in 2015 by former president Cavaco Silva, the Comenda de Mérito Agrícola. 62 years old today, David envisions a project of his own, with Alentejo red wines and an Alvarinho from Melgaço. All for Portugal, of course.
Original article: Um australiano no Alentejo.