The company, which is one of the largest Portuguese wine producers, was founded by José Maria da Fonseca (1804-1884). His father had become rich through tobacco trade and bought his son at Azeitãjo south of Lisbon in what is now the DOC area Setúbal a winery. This began in 1834 with the construction of a large winery. He introduced new techniques, for example, he continued to spread the vines and lead the variety Castelão Francês on. He planted these on a vineyard called Periquita. The wine became very successful, so the vine was soon named all over Portugal after the vineyard and became widespread.
For the Moscatel de Setúbal, which was already produced at the time, he created a new mix with new, acid-emphasized varieties. This sweet dessert wine is largely produced by Fonseca today. Another pioneering act was that apart from port wine as one of the first in Portugal to bottle his wines. José Maria da Fonseca ran the winery for 50 years and was awarded the highest distinction in Portugal by King Pedro V (1837-1861) in 1857. In 1944 it became the hugely successful rosé wine Lancers created by the descendant in the fifth generation António Porto Soares Franco (as early as 1937 the predecessor Faisca, who is considered the first Portuguese rosé). The first white wine appeared on the market in 1945.
Today there are two Fonseca companies (both based in Azeitãjo), which are, however, completely separate or independent. These are José Maria da Fonseca Successores and JM da Fonseca International (to the port wine house Fonseca Guimaraens in the postage - Suburb of Vila Nova de Gaia there is no connection). The second is primarily focused on the production of the Lancer, most of which is exported to the United States. A large number of wines from local and international varieties are also produced. The former company is run by the seventh generation of descendants of the Fonseca family, and is currently managed by the brothers Antonio (president since 1986) and Domingos Soares Franco (director of production since 1980). António is a graduate of the University of California in Davis.
The huge property now comprises over 1,000 hectares of vineyards. Furthermore, there are shares in vineyards, wineries and wineries, among others in the regions or DOC zones Alentejo (Goods D'Avillez and José de Sousa), dão and Palmela, The broad product range includes red and white wines from predominantly domestic varieties ( Alvarinho. Arinto. Bastardo. Espadeiro. Loureiro. Monvedro, Periquita = Castelão Francês ), sometimes with something Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay blended or sorted. These are e.g. B. the branded wines Garrafeira CO (Periquita with a little Tinta Amarela), JP Vinhos (before buying João Pires), Quinta da Bacalhôa, Quinta de Camarate (Cabernet Sauvignon and Periquita), Primum (50% Touriga Nacional and Touriga Franca each), Tinto Velho (from indigenous varieties from the José de Sousa winery) and Terras Altas.
A specialty of the house are old Setúbal wines from the period 1870 to 1890, which were still produced in the traditional form. This means that they were on long journeys by ship for months and were exposed to extreme heat or temperature fluctuations. These specialties are called "Vinhos de torna-viagem" or "Vinho da roda". In 2000, Fonseca started an interesting project when Setúbal wines were exposed to a three-month boat trip. So they were created using the old traditional method of crossing the euator twice. See in detail under Torna Viagem,