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José Leitao, a Dear Friend of Portuguese Wines Remembered

The Portuguese wine industry in general, and in the UK especially, is indebted to José Leitao, a wonderful man, who sadly died on New Year’s Eve. ViniPortugal and all his colleagues extend love to José’s family, of whom he was so proud.

From his work with the Portuguese Trade Office, and as a guiding force behind D&F Wine Shippers, Jose has always been at the forefront of the modern face of Portuguese wines. He was instrumental in setting up the Association of Portuguese Wine Importers (APWI) in the UK, as a unique consultative body in the industry. He sat on the board of APWI every year since its inception, and without his enthusiasm, tenacity, knowledge and hard work, the Association could not have performed its pivotal role in helping Portugal stamp its unique vinous character on this market.

There will be a 7th Day Mass at Encarnação Church in downtown Lisbon on the 7th of January at 19h00 and then a funeral mass at Holy Family Catholic Church, Oxlow Lane, Dagenham, Essex, RM9 5XJ starting at 10.15 on Monday, 17 January followed by cremation at Forest Park Crematorium, Forest Road, Hainault, Essex IG6 3HP.
Thoughts from life-long friend Vasco d’Avillez:
José was born on the 18th of February of 1948, and was always a leader on his own discrete way.  José played various musical instruments when we were just kids of 12 and 14 years and with that and his ability to sing he would have the all group of friends behind him with no difficulty. He was always kind and being from a large family of 13 brothers and sisters he learned quickly to share and to negotiate, at all levels.

Very generous he always helped his friends when they were in need or even better he could anticipate his friend’s needs. José was one of the first people to present and sell Portuguese wines in a modern way. He was always very close to the various Ambassadors of Portugal and always there to ensure that  wine events could take place at the Portuguese Embassy. He knew everyone in the wine business which he embraced early, certainly more than thirty years ago. He always did well.

I am very proud that we have been close friends since we were both 7 years of age. His Parents and mine started, with other couples, a Roman Catholic movement here in Portugal (Teams of Our Lady) and that meant we saw each other very often, and since then we were always in close contact.

José and Leslie have two children: José and Luisa who are both married. He has a Grandson, not yet one year old, from his son José, and just before he died received with joy the great news that his daughter is expecting a baby. José’s Parents are both alive and shattered by this sad news.

His numerous friends here in Portugal are going to pay homage and say good bye to him at a 7th Day Mass at Encarnação Church in downtown Lisbon on the 7th of January at 19h00

There will then be a funeral mass at Holy Family Catholic Church, Oxlow Lane, Dagenham, Essex, RM9 5XJ starting at 10.15 on Monday, 17 January followed by cremation at Forest Park Crematorium, Forest Road, Hainault, Essex IG6 3HP.

I end this message asking everyone to join us, wherever you are, on the 7th at 19h00 with a Prayer for José and his family.

This heart felt obituary was written by Vasco d’Avillez, former President of ViniPortugal who was a life-long friend of José’s.