The Dimensions of the Esporão Ecosystem: Relationship’s with Suppliers

The Dimensions of the Esporão Ecosystem: Relationship’s with Suppliers

Renowned New York chef and famous ‘bad-boy’ Anthony Bourdain once said that you learn a lot about a person when you share a meal with them. Similarly, when we are party to all the stages involved in producing a wine, we uncover the fundamentals which ensure that those who end up drinking it enjoy doing so. In our case it has never been a secret that, in order to achieve the production levels that have sustained the company’s growth, having a strong network of grape and olive suppliers is crucial. But how do you go about creating such a network of suppliers? And what’s the best way to manage it? A network is not a sealed, sterile and fixed system. People, habits, cultures and a meeting of expectations and needs are all involved. It represents, above all else, an enormous challenge for any company that wants to grow sustainably while maintaining positive relationships with the local communities where it operates.

Think Globally, Act Locally
The global wine market is always looking for novelties and the more eccentric side of this industry often lies in the reinstatement of ideas as old as the domestication of wild grapes. Inspired by this idea of ​ recovering traditions and products of historical value, in 2012 we came up with the idea of ​​making wine in ceramic containers, in order to revive an ancient tradition inherited from the Roman period of the Alentejo. We were immediately faced with a number of questions: where would we find the containers, or amphorae, suitable for the quality wines we always strive to produce? In what state would these pots be in? How are they restored and what techniques and products should we apply so that they are fit for use? These large earthen vessels have fallen into disuse (either due to the industrialization of wine production or the perception that “homemade” wine was something archaic and uninteresting) which made it particularly difficult to see how we were going to turn this dream into a reality. To manufacture the jars ourselves was out of the question, so the logical solution was to go out into the local community in search not only of the recipients but, just as importantly, all the traditional knowledge about how amphorae wine is produced. The questions, however, didn’t stop there. Next, we needed to find out what grape varieties should be used, what the most appropriate production techniques and methods are and how the wine will age and so on. Much of this knowledge was collected from the historical producers of Vidigueira, Mourão, Reguengos de Monsaraz and other areas where the tradition has not died out. This is a clear example of how the local community contributed value to our portfolio of wines and we found the right suppliers who helped us create the right conditions to innovate. To respond to market needs, we went after an idea and, in order to develop it, tapped into the knowledge and experience of the local community.
On Robustness, Resilience and Chocolate Milk
There are words which, due to their similarity, conceal their profound differences. Imagine the scenario: a magnificent Portuguese glass vase. Beautiful, colourful and compact. It feels solid and like it won’t break easily. Until someone of a clumsier disposition knocks it to the floor…and it breaks. Its robustness allowed the piece to withstand a certain degree of pressure but, when that point was passed, it broke and will never be the same again. Now, instead of a vase, imagine a new cotton t-shirt. The t-shirt can be worn, dirty, scrunched up, creased and even slightly stretched, but after it’s been washed and ironed it returns, more or less, to its original state. The cotton withstands a certain level of pressure, can be pulled this way and that and taken to certain limits, but with some care will recover its original shape. This is known as resilience. And what about the chocolate milk? Well, now visualise a classic bottle of chocolate milk which has been sitting in the fridge for a couple of days. When you pick it up, you notice that all that delicious chocolate has sunk to the bottom of the bottle and you know that, in order to improve your consumer experience, you’ll need to give it a good shake to achieve the perfect mixture of milk and chocolate. The famous “shake well before opening”. This is what’s called antifragility; some products, services and even business models only reach their true potential when they are subjected to a certain amount of disruption or upheaval which they react positively to.

When a business relies on a static and rigid supply chain it is robust.  If you prefer to have your supply chain controlled by volatile contracts which can be adjusted depending on the needs of the company then it is, undoubtedly, resilient. But when the company actively seeks out solutions, inspires confidence and creates conditions conducive to the development of relationships between the various links in the supply chain, while sharing the value generated by the company-suppliers ecosystem, then it becomes increasingly antifragile. New innovations incorporated into the system may cause some turbulence but can also precede great leaps forward in terms of results. This will only happen, however, when this vital element is in a position to benefit from the upheaval and generate greater value for the system as a whole.

Generating and Managing Commitments
At Esporão we believe in the importance of establishing and developing a healthy relationship with our suppliers, based on the concepts of mutual support, cooperation and respect for commitments agreed to. As such, we commit ourselves to working towards sharing our success with the community and the establishment of partnerships and relationships of added value. We view our supplier as a crucial and indispensable partner in reaching our objectives and always favour the creation of longstanding ties based on long-term mutual objectives. Given that quality is a cornerstone of our produce, we are committed to creating produce of excellence but also to setting demanding criteria in the relationship between company and supplier. We will actively seek to maintain and obtain Quality and Environmental certification at the most demanding level and, most importantly, establish interconnected processes with our suppliers which will allow continued mutual improvements and true partnerships.

We are committed to acting in an environmentally and socially responsible way, setting concrete criteria and operating methods that promote sustainability. We also accept our responsibility to contribute towards economic stability by seeking to honour and fulfill all our commitments, in terms of both amounts and time, particularly with regard to payment within agreed timeframes. We want to help our staff create relationships of independence and integrity in their dealings with current and potential suppliers. We promote an atmosphere in which corruption and personal favouritism are strictly forbidden, demanding transparency and impartiality in all that we do. These are our guidelines, our key to developing a business ecosystem which is both healthy and sustainable.