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OBITUARY: Bruce Guimaraens of Fonseca

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Bruce Guimaraens, one of the Port industry's most prominent personalities, has died at the age of 66 from a heart attack on 22 August 2002.
 
Bruce Duncan Guimaraens was born in October 1935, the great-great grandson of Manuel Pedro Guimaraens, who founded the house of Fonseca Guimaraens in 1822.   Son of Cathleen May and Charles Bruce Fonseca Guimaraens, he began life a stone's throw from his family's Port lodges in Vila Nova de Gaia.
 
Bruce's formative years were shared between England, where he was educated, and his home in Portugal. As a young man, he served from 1953 to 1956 as a commissioned officer with the rank of lieutenant in the Royal Berkshire Regiment and was seconded to the Third Battalion Royal West African Frontier Force in Ghana. When he left the army, he joined the Port firms of Fonseca Guimaraens and Taylor Fladgate & Yeatman, which had been consolidated eight years earlier.
 
Bruce began his formal training at the age of 20 in the Port trade under Richard and Stanley Yeatman and later Dorothy Guimaraens. 
 
In 1961, he became a partner and assumed responsibility for winemaking and vineyard management. In his capacity as Estates Director, Bruce played a crucial role in bringing to fruition a policy fundamental to the companies' long-term strength: vineyard acquisition.
 
In the late 1960s, it became evident that growth in demand for quality Port wines, particularly for Vintage Ports, would require stable sources of top-quality grapes to maintain continuity of supply and consistency of house style.
 
In 1973, the Quinta do Panascal was acquired, quickly followed in 1979 by Quinta de Santo António, which with Cruzeiro, had been an important source of Fonseca vintage wines.
 
Bruce Guimaraens managed not only the 280 acres of vines, in both the Fonseca and Taylor Fladgate properties, but directed new plantings which would substantially increase production over 1990s. Both an innovator and a traditionalist, Bruce will be remembered as an inspired and creative winemaker with an instinctive understanding of the principles of making great Port.
 
Bruce Guimaraens was one of three people credited for the quality, as well as the exceptional stylistic continuity, of Fonseca Vintage Ports. He made every Fonseca vintage since 1960; with the exception of the 1955, his great uncle, Frank Guimaraens, made every Fonseca vintage from 1896 to 1948. This remarkable record is unique in the annals of Port.
 
Bruce married Magdalena Gorrell Guimaraens, with whom he had four children; Rebecca, born in 1964; David Bruce Fonseca, born in 1965, now wine maker of Fonseca and Taylor and a director of both firms; Deborah, born in 1969 and Christopher Tilton, born in 1971. After his retirement as Vice Chairman of Fonseca Guimaraens, Bruce occupied himself with his passionate interest in horticulture and photography and continued to maintain a close interest in the activities of the company.
 
Bruce was one of the great figures of the Port trade, well known throughout the wine business and held in great respect and affection by his many friends in Portugal and all over the world.


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