Francisca van Zeller's first memory, from the age of about three, is of waking up in the morning at Quinta do Noval and eating toast with jam made from the blackberries on the farm. At night, after dinner, the living room would be filled with a symphony of laughter driven by the sounds of silverware on plates and wineglasses being hoisted in celebration. Dying of curiosity, Francisca would leave the dinner table, run to her father to sit in his lap, and taste a bit of Port wine from her father's finger. Francisca thought it tasted just like the blackberry jam from the farm.
The heiress van Zeller had her first professional experience in the wine sector in 2007, at Quinta Vale D. Maria, a wine venture in the family since 1996. She had just finished her studies in history in London, and, as her father hadn't had time to formally educate her about the family business himself, he challenged her to learn by doing. So, she started with what she knew, and enjoyed it. This included: improving data sheets, organizing photographs, and updating the website. She later took her first business trip to California, at the age of 21, despite not having any experience in the wine business. It turned out not to be that hard. After all, selling wine is about telling good stories, and Francisca had her own personal collection to share.
The total freedom that Francisca had to choose her own career path brought her to Madrid, where she took a master's degree in journalism and worked in public relations at Bacalhôa Vinhos de Portugal. While there, she learned (almost) everything that she knows about (Portuguese) national wines and the inner-workings of a large-scale producer. While already curious and adaptable, this Portuguese woman was given a sense of place, origin and identity through her work in wine.
Francisca van Zeller is the creative spark within the organization. In sync with her father, to whom she looks for inspiration and guidance, she doesn't make decisions alone. She believes that working together is always more beneficial.
Since 2013, she has dedicated herself to the family business of Quinta Vale D. Maria, focusing on sales and promotion of the wines. Having taken a post-graduate degree in enology from the Catholic University of Porto, in 2015, Francisca has immersed herself in this field, and has been the wine director of Six Senses Douro Valley since April of 2015.