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Home > Information > Institutional Org. > Brotherhoods > Port Wine Brotherhood

Port Wine Brotherhood

Port Wine Brotherhood

The CONFRARIA DO VINHO DO PORTO, or Port Wine Brotherhood, with headquarters at the Porto Commercial Association Palace (Palácio da Bolsa) was created by in November 1982. As stated in the Statutes, it is directed at 'disseminating, promoting and consolidating the worldwide fame of Port Wine'. Members of the Confraria are those who engage in the trading and export of Port Wine are called CONFRADES (Brothers) and enjoy the rank of MESTRE (Master); higher-level employees of Port Wine shippers are ranked EXPERTO (Expert), MESTRE (Master) or EXPERTOS (Specialists). The bodies of the Confraria are: the CHANCELLERY and the BOARD OF CONTROLLERS. The Chancellery consists of a Chancellor (the Supreme Authority), the ALMOXARIFE (Treasurer), the COPEIRO-MOR (Head Steward), the ALMOTACÉ (Inspector of Weights and Measures) and the FIEL DAS USANÇAS (Keeper of the Customs).

Port Wine BrotherhoodMeetings of the brothers, or CHAPTERS, are convened by the Chancellor to deliberate on matters that are of particular importance to the brotherhood, one of the most important being the admission of new brothers, either as full or as honorary members, as CHANCELÁRIO (Member of the Chancellery), INFANÇÃO (Noble) or CAVALEIRO (Knight). In addition to the Statutes, the USANÇAS (Customs) establish the internal regulations.

The patron of the Port Wine Brother is Prince Henry the Navigator as it is felt that the universal spirit of Port Wine coincides with the unforgettable image of the great prince. The hat worn by members is a copy of the one worn by Prince Henry.


Enthronment Ceremony

Enthronment Ceremony As stated in the Usanças, 'the most important ceremonial act of the Confraria is the enthronment and, as such, the greatest care must be taken to perform it with the dignity that is proper to the prestige with which Port Wine has been endowed'. This ceremony, held in the Commercial Court at the Bolsa Palace, is the means by which new members are accepted into the Confraria.


The Rabelo Boat Race

Rabelo Boat


The purpose of this race is to bring the historic rabelo boat to life. It was this means of transport that in ages past carried Port Wine from the Douro Region to Porto and thus enabling this wine to leave from this city to conquer a leading position in all main markets throughout the world. The very last time that Port Wine travelled down to Vila Nova de Gaia in this way was in 1964. Since then, the few remaining rabelo boats have remained moored along the quay in Vila Nova de Gaia, advertising the names of thecompanies that own them.
Today, the Port Wine Brotherhood organises the annual Rabelo Boat Race that is held on June 24th, the feast day of St. John, patron saint of Porto, from the mouth of the Douro River up to the D. Luis bridge. This race is part of the official programme for the city's festivities and has become a major popular and tourist attraction.

Declaration of the 'Confraria Vintage'

Whenever a minimum of 10 Port Wine shippers declare a Vintage Port Wine, the Confraria will also declare the wine from this single, exceptional year, as a 'Vintage Confraria'. The first such Vintage was declared in 1982.

Homage to Prince Henry the Navigator

It is the Confraria's believe that Prince Henry the Navigator, 3rd son of king Dom João I, born in Porto and supporter of the most extraordinary voyages of discovery, possessed the universal spirit that is so proper to Port Wine itself. This is why Prince Henry was nominated Patron and First Chancellor of the Confraria do Vinho do Porto. Today, in addition to taking every opportunity at all times to celebrate the magnificence of Port Wine, the Confraria renders homage to all those who have rendered it good and loyal services, encourages respect for the finest traditions connected to this wine and, obviously, remains closely linked to that which best describes the genius of Portugal and of its dearest sons. Because Port Wine summarises all this spirit, Confraria ceremonies and the speeches of its Chancellor always end with the following cry:


Port Wine Brotherhood

Confraria do Vinho do Porto
Rua Dr. António Granjo, 207
4400-124 Vila Nova de Gaia * Portugal
Tel. +351 223 745 520
Fax +351 223 705 400

Ministério da Agricultura Compete