The #winelover group on Facebook notched up 20,000 members last week. Members come from all over the globe and from all walks of life, although naturally many of them are connected with wine in some way. Bloggers, journalists, photographers, travellers, winemakers, viticulturalists, wine vendors, PR people, wine educators, Masters of Wine, the most accomplished of all wine lovers, who are entitled to put the coveted MW after their name, you name it, there’s bound to be some of them in the group.

So, what is this group all about?

The group was founded by Brazilian Luiz Alberto, known on Facebook as Luiz Winelover Alberto, and Portuguese Andre Ribeirinho. They were soon joined by a group of others from various corners of the globe who had met on several occasions at European wine blogger conferences and various other events around Europe. As Magnus Reuterdahl, another early core member of the group puts it, ‘Luiz came up with the idea, Andre helped, we tagged along – the rest is history, from 10-15 to 21,000 and beyond.’

According to Luiz, the group was born from the need that people who love wine and would like to share it and their experiences using social media needed a common quick and easy place, in this case Facebook, to meet the others in virtual life, a place to communicate and share things on line, and to build an on-line network where they could gain from each other.

For a long time, Luiz did much of the work by himself, helped by some of the other core members of the community, but now there is an official board of members that are very involved in the decision-making process and are aiding him in making the community even bigger and better. Luiz remains as President, but we now have other important functions: we have a king, Magnus, a prime minister, Ted Lelekas, a chairman in Andre and many more other specialists and country ambassadors. This board and various action groups make our, wine lovers’, dreams come true.

The community has grown to a size that Luiz could not have imagined when he started. There are now over 20,000 members on the Facebook page, thus spammers are also a constant problem. However, Luiz believes that they are winning the fight, which is evidenced by very high quality content and great interactions.

#winelover community

Hanging out together

However, members of the group do not only meet virtually, they get together in ‘real life’ too, to have fun while being professional, and to enjoy wonderful wines, delicious food, amazing places and the company of people who share the same passions, sometimes informally and often officially. 

The first ‘official’ hangout took place in Eisenstadt, Austria in 2012 and the latest in Verona during Vinitaly this April. The most popular, in terms of numbers, was the PROWEIN 2016 which was attended by 200 people!

In the meantime, scores of events have been organised, and most definitely enjoyed: BYOB parties, in which each participant brings a favourite bottle of wine and shares it with the group; anniversary trips, celebrating the foundation of the group, which take place on and around Valentine’s day, most appropriate for wine lovers; or hangouts, where, as the name suggests, wine lovers just hang out and do the ‘real-life’ bit of what the group was set up to do.

To date, Luiz tells me, around 60 official events have been organised, mostly in various spots around Europe, but also in the US and Brazil. They may happen as a result of many wine lovers converging on one place at the same time as a result of a wine fair or similar, just be a reason to get together in a certain location, or due to a fellow wine lover or lovers coming to town. A hangout may even develop into more, as did our trip to Sicily last October.

Some of the most popular events are the anniversaries, which are organised in different wine regions every year.  Members hang out, enjoy each other’s company, of course taste some wonderful wines and visit some wineries. Last year saw the group visit Lisbon and the Alentejo. They are proving so popular that this year there were two, almost overlapping, events organised in two different cities, Jerez and Athens, as so many people wanted to participate. A small group of crazy people including Luiz himself, Magnus and Anne, Patrick and I decided to attend both, flying between the two very early in the morning of the 14th to attend the BYOB in Athens that evening.

#winelover community


The first stage of our ‘marathon’ #winelover anniversary this year took place in Jerez de la Frontera, where we spent four days exploring the ‘sherry triangle’, the three towns in Andalucía which are responsible for the production of the Brit’s former favourite aperitif, sherry, that is Jerez de la Frontera, Sanlúcar de Barrameda and Puerto de Santa Maria. The event was superbly organised by locals Valeska and Fernando from Paladar y Tomar and we had the pleasure of a sherry masterclass by the president of the Consejo Regulador del Brandy y Los Vinos de Jerez at 9 am the first morning.

You might think that three days of sherry tasting and visits could get boring, but not in the least. The programme was skilfully put together and enabled us to visit bodegas in all three sherry towns as well as to see the characteristic white, calcareous albariza soils of the production area and learn something about vine grafting at González Byass’s Viña la Canariera vineyard.

As well seeing how  to 'run the scales’ of the sherry soleras, whereby the sherry is transferred from one criadera to another in the long process of creating the final product, we also got to see how fino evolves with age at the Tio Pepe winery. Bodegas Lustau treated us to a wonderful evening in their ‘wine cathedral’ where we tasted various amontillados before an atmospheric gala dinner in this cathedral-like building, lit by candlelight and accompanied by flamenco. Their head winemaker, Manuel Lozano came in especially to give us an amontillado masterclass, although he had recently undergone major heart surgery. Sadly, I learnt this morning that he had passed away yesterday.

Bodegas Barbadillo showed us how a sherry bodega can be both innovative and traditional at the same time, producing not only sherry but also still and sparkling wines along with a 60-year old vermouth. Bodegas Delgado Zuleta took us through the process of biological ageing as we explored the winery.  Bodegas Gutiérrez Colosia played host to a vertical tasting, where we were also able to experience their fabulous palo cortado. Bodegas Osborne showed us there is more to Jerez than plain old sherry; here we tasted some sherry cocktails, brandy and rare old sherries, too. Our final bodega visit was Williams & Humbert, where we watched a dressage show and tasted some vintage sherries, i.e. a single-vintage sherry, not the result of vintage blending, followed by the traditional BYOB in the evening before our early start the next day, bound for Athens.

We left Jerez not only as #winelovers, but also as #sherrylovers!

#winelover community


Athens was the backdrop not only for learning about Greek wine, but also about its food and ancient culture. Ted Lelekas put a wonderful programme together for us, involving a BYOB celebration dinner at the Scala Vinoteca with its walls lined with bottles, a walking tour of Athens, including a visit to the market and a typical meze lunch at a local tavern, ‘To Kafeneio’, a Greek cheese workshop and tasting at the Vintage Wine Bistro, and of course, plenty of wine-tasting.

We travelled to the Peloponnese to visit the wine region of Nemea and the Domaine Skouras winery, and on the way, we were able to visit the archaeological site of Mycanae and wonder at the majesty of the Corinthian Canal. The following day, we visited the Museum of Wine in Pallini, just outside Athens, where the Wines of Athens Association laid on lunch and a tasting of wines from its six members, one of which, Domaine Papagiannikos, invited me to visit then before I left. Here we were able to taste wines produced from the local Savatiano, previously mostly turned into retsina, and other local varieties, such as Assyritiko, Malgousia and Aglionitiko. Some producers had also brought along their retsina, which bore no resemblance to the plonk formerly quaffed in Greek tavernas around the world. The event was rounded off by a farewell dinner at the Aleria Restaurant, just fabulous.

So, as you might have now guessed, we left Athens as #greekwinelovers too!

#winelover community

#winelover against cancer

In addition to sharing experiences and enjoying wine and each other’s company, the community now also has an additional meaning. Luiz, Patrick Farrell MD MW, Andre Riberinho, Fabien Lainé and Magdus Reuterdahl, to name but a few, have begun to carry a ‘heavy bunch of grapes’, as Luiz puts it. This initiative is named #WLACF - #winelover against cancer foundation and its purpose is, as the name suggests, raising awareness of cancer. The large community is helping them to carry this burden. As Luiz says, ‘It’s a great feeling to do something good with people who love wine (and life!) as much as I do. I feel blessed.’

#winelover community

A friend wherever you go

When asked what the most important thing that the community has given to him was, Luiz replied, ‘I have a friend wherever I go’. That was echoed by Magnus, ‘Friends! I’ve met so many fantastic, creative and wonderful people, from all over the world’.  I, and no doubt all the active members of the community, would definitely agree with that.  The #winelover community is effectively a huge group of wine-loving friends.

#winelover community

Upcoming #winelover events

There are several events planned for the coming month: a BYOB party on 2 May at the Vinoteca wine bar in Soho prior to London Wine Festival, a tour of some of Hungary’s wine regions from 1 to 5 June and the #Riesling Marathon #Winelover Hangout Mosel IV in the Mosel from 10-12 June.

A final thought from our ‘King Magnus’:

If you love wine and want to share that love, #winelover is there for you – online and IRL – as long as you like to communicate.

If you’d like to know what the president, chairman and king do in addition to their #winelover activities, then check out the following:
Luiz Alberto explores wine on his The Wine Hub
Andre Riberinho organises the successful Adegga Wine Markets
Magnus Reuterdahl writes for Scandinavia’s biggest online magazine

Many thanks to Ricardo Bernardo for the photos.