Sogrape has strengthened its bond with UK distributor Liberty Wines by purchasing a minority stake in the business.

The Portuguese producer, which counts Sandeman and Mateus among its portfolio, signed a UK distribution deal with Liberty in January.

Sogrape chief executive Fernando C. Guedes said: “This investment underlines our company’s commitment to the UK, enhancing our competitiveness and extending distribution of our wines. 

“The UK is a priority market for us, as it is one of the great shop windows of the world. This investment highlights our strategic focus, our continuing commitment to quality and our ability to maximise value from grape to glass as we pursue a path of sustained growth.”

David Gleave MW, managing director at Liberty Wines, added, “We entered into discussions with Sogrape a year ago, and announced in January that we were taking on distribution of most of their estates for the UK and Ireland.

“Over the last few months, both Sogrape’s Board and ours recognised the compelling strategic reasons for closer cooperation and partnership to respond to rapidly changing customer needs.”

Along with Sandeman and Mateus, Liberty distributes Sogrape brands Casa Ferreirinha, Bodegas LAN from Spain, Chile’s Chateau Los Boldos and Argentina’s Finca Flichman.

The premium wines are a natural fit for the Liberty portfolio, but Mateus is a more mainstream brand and Gleave is excited to be working on it.

“Mateus rosé has grown in a shrinking market in 2016 due to its quality and strong brand recognition, and we aim to build upon that performance,” he said.