Maria João de Almeida – Influential Women

Maria João de Almeida is a distinguished figure in the world of wine, known for her elegant and insightful critiques as well as her efforts to promote wine tourism in Portugal. Her journey began as a journalist at TVI, later joining the Expresso team for over a decade before venturing out on her own in 2009 to establish her brand focusing on wine, gastronomy, and tourism.

Her passion for wine was first ignited during her early days as a journalist when she was sent on an assignment to write an article about emerging trends in wine consumption in Portugal, sparking a deep love for the subject and setting her on a path of wine education. Maria João pursued wine courses in Portugal and Europe, read extensively, travelled and realised that to contribute significantly to wine education she would need to specialise in it completely. This was when she launched her wine portal,, and web TV channel VinhoTV.

Renowned for her collaborations with various publications and her role as a judge in national and international wine and gastronomy competitions, Maria João also coordinates premium wine tourism trips and is the author of television documentaries and multiple books dedicated to promoting wine and wine tourism in Portugal. Her contributions to the wine sector were acknowledged with decorations by the Sovereign Order of the Knights of Santo Urbano and São Vicente, additionally the prestigious ‘Wine Criticism’ award, by Revista Paixão pelo Vinho in 2016.

Adding to her list of accomplishments, Maria João introduced the first Postgraduate Course in Wine Tourism Marketing in Portugal, at Universidade Lusófona, where she continues to impart knowledge through classes and conferences. She holds the esteemed ‘Certified Port Educator’ certification, and serves as the Founder and Executive President of APENO – Portuguese Wine Tourism Association; in addition to being the Portuguese Delegate at the GWTO – Global Wine Tourism Organization.

With a long list of accolades behind her name, Maria João is causing a stir and bringing a touch of femininity and elegance to a predominantly male-based industry and her passion and determination to break through barriers to succeed and make a difference is inspiring.

What are you most proud of?
I’m proud of persevering through the odds that were stacked against me, being a woman in the world of wine which men dominate, and making a success of myself due to holding firm to my values and my professionalism.

What has been your greatest challenge and your greatest reward in your professional career?
My greatest challenge has been to grow professionally in a sector where men have always been in the majority and highlighted. Through hard work, consistency, persistence and professionalism, I have learnt that you can achieve anything. My greatest reward professionally is that I can sit here today, after winning several awards, and be recognised by my peers as being among the best professionals in the wine sector.

What is the most important piece of advice that you have been given?
The best advice I was ever given was to work hard and never give up on my dreams until I achieved them.

Is there a motto for life that you live by?
Life is a consistent learning curve, so despite my achievements, I always seek to learn new trends and stay up-to-date with the latest information. I will never stop learning.

Who inspires you?
My mother inspires me, as she has always been a fighter all her life. I am also inspired by people who work with passion and win in life through their work, effort and dedication. Cristiano Ronaldo, for example.

What advice would you give young women starting their careers?
Work hard and never give up, despite the failures and disappointments, keep working and your moment to shine will come.