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Six Senses Douro Valley Announces the Appointment of Sandra Tavares da Silva and Francisca van Zeller as Wine Directors

May 4, 2015 Appointments No Comments Email Email

unnamedSandra Tavares da Silva and Francisca van Zeller have been appointed joint wine directors of Six Senses Douro Valley. These two award-winning winemakers represent the new generation of wine making in Portugal. Combining great skill, experience and energy, they bring a fresh, creative and interactive approach to the Wine Program at Six Senses Douro Valley.

Sandra Tavares da Silva is a highly-talented oenologist and winemaker respected by her peers and considered by many to define the New Douro generation. Awarded Best Portuguese Wine Maker of the Year 2014, she is a skilled interpreter of local terroir. She has earned her reputation by combining a strong work ethic with a calm and self-effacing personality. After obtaining her bachelor degree in agronomy, she moved to Italy and was awarded her Masters in oenology by Piacenza University.  At the time Sandra moved to Porto in 1999, Cristiano van Zeller, owner of Quinta Vale D. Marie (one of the five Douro Boys), was actively looking for a skilled winemaker and asked her to join him at Vale Dona Maria. This was an auspicious year for the winemaking debutant: in addition to her exciting new post and inaugural vintage at Vale Dona Maria, she was invited by her parents to help at the family vineyard, Quinta de Chocapalha in Lisbon wine region. In the same year Sandra met her future husband and winemaking partner, Jorge Serodio Borges. Married in 2001, it seemed only logical that the dynamic duo would embark on their own winemaking adventure, and thus evolved a new enterprise – Wine & Soul. In the past six years their joint success has been impressive with a string of high scoring wines, including the much acclaimed Pintas and stylish newcomers Character, Guru and Quinta da Manoella.

unnamed (1)Francisca van Zeller’s first memory connected to wine is the smell of port wine barrels in the winery at Quinta do Noval, which her family owned for over 200 years. A few years later, she went with her father to a tasting room and after helping him blend a wine, decided that when she grew up she wanted to become a “wine cook” as all that mixing reminded her of the afternoons spent with her grandmother baking. When the day came to choose her bachelor’s degree her father explained that one of the most important arts in the wine world was also the art of storytelling. With that in mind, and following a second passion, she decided to study history and journalism.

After 5 years trying a variety of different careers, the magical world of wine she grew up in beckoned her to return, and so she decided to apply for a job in a large wine company in the south of Portugal to elevate her palate. Since 2013, Francisca re-joined her award-winning family business at Quinta Vale D. Maria and finished her post-graduate course in Enology and Viticulture in 2015. Initially hesitant to tie herself into a lifelong commitment, a couple of years into it Francisca securely says, “I have never felt freer than when I started playing my part in something greater than myself, the continuation of a family story that began in the wine trade in 1620.”

Both Sandra and Francisca are based at Six Senses Douro Valley in Portugal which is due to open this summer in July.

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