The Ilha do Pico Co-op Vitivinicola was established in 1949 and has 250 associates with 51 local grape producers participating. It is the largest winery in the Portuguese Azores. 50% of its wines are consumed in the Azores and the rest exported to the United States, Canada and Europe.
As any co-op purchasing grapes there will always be quality control issues. For example if a co-op purchases grapes by weight it would be tempting for grape growers to overcrop raising the weight and compromising the intensity of the juice. All parties eventually suffer including the consumer. So the Co-op prefers to consult and educate its growers rather than act as an enforcer. Grapes are tested for quality to meet CVR Açores requirements.
A group of ten of us visited the co-op for a brief tour and a tasting. Tastings were lacking in technical sheets, which make a wine writer’s job so much more difficult.
The white wines wines sampled were approachable and highly drinkable and mostly in the off dry category.
The reds were forgettable lacking character and depth. Reds are an afterthought on Pico Island and for that matter in the Azores.
The surprise was a liqueur called Ilha do Pico 10 Year that sells for 50 Euros and is one of the Co-op’s best sellers in 2022. Somewhat of a combination of a white Port and sherry is has spent 8 years in French oak with notes of orange, orange marmalade, butterscotch all contained in a lush and creamy mouthfeel.
Should you visit the Co-op they have a Wine Tourism Tasting Programme ranging from three wines at 15 Euros per person to 9 wines for 50 Euros per person. Cheese plates with three local cheeses are 10 Euros.