A crossroads of passions: wine, art and philanthropy
After an intense and successful professional career as a tax lawyer, Howard Bilton wanted to invest more of his time and money in three of his most treasured passions: wine, art and philanthropy. These are the three pillars upon which Howard’s Folly was built, in partnership with award-winning winemaker David Baverstock.
Location: Alentejo (plus Vinho Verde and Carcavelos), Portugal
Working with us since: 2021
Interesting fact: Howard’s Folly headquarters in Estremoz house not only the winery but also one of the region’s most loved restaurants. The space hosts regular live music and special wine pairing events that usually sell out in a matter of hours. During lockdown it also served an important public service: making and delivering the only decent pizzas in town!
Howard’s Folly wines
A man of many passions and a relentless love for the good things in life, Howard Bilton fell in love with the Alentejo landscape, the local culture and its quirky old vineyards. After forging a partnership with David Baverstock, the award-winning Australian-born winemaker who has reshaped modern Alentejo wine for the past three decades, Howard’s Folly started taking shape.
Howard wanted to start a project that could combine his hedonistic fascination for wine with his determination to support art, education and the wellbeing of children in poor areas. Having called Hong Kong home for thirty years, he was well aware of the deprivation felt by youth in many corners of Eastern Asia. His Sovereign Foundation was thus founded to support them through educational programmes that place particular emphasis in art therapy. The work done by the children, as well as by upcoming artists in those communities, is used in Howard’s Folly’s labels.
Most of the fruit used to make Howard’s Folly wines comes from a 7-hectares vineyard close to Portalegre, about 100 km northeast from the winery. The region stands out in the context of Alentejo, with a unique, cooler, high-altitude terroir that yields wines of great finesse. Howard’s Folly also buys fruit from selected growers and plots of old vines, many of them field blends, which represent a key component to fully express the potential for complexity and the singularity of this region.
Howard’s Folly range is constantly evolving, namely through collaborations with other artists and winemakers. A wine produced with iconic Dirk Niepoort and a label designed by Justin Brice Guariglia are among the most recent adventures. The team have also ventured to other Portuguese regions: the desire to make a top, age-worthy white wine led them to the Vinho Verde sub-region of Monção e Melgaço, where Alvarinho is said to have its most truthful expression; exclusive access to an extremely rare batch from an appellation of just 10 hectares, just north of Lisbon, surrounded by the Atlantic on three sides, gave Howard’s Folly the opportunity to release its own Carcavelos.