It all starts with a man named Virgil
Virgil is someone I’ve been lucky enough to know as Grandpa. He’s instantly loved by all who have had the pleasure to meet him. Somewhere along the lines of social media and cellphones, we became so connected...we lost connection. Virgil is a constant reminder to me in a time where we are living in over consumption and instant gratification, that the things that make you the happiest are good family, good friends, and sharing a good meal. He believes that everything in moderation is key and that you should invest in yourself, the products you choose, and the people behind them.
Born in Madeira Portugal, as a young man Virgil set out for the United States with every intention of working hard and returning back to his home country. As life sometimes has other plans for us, he met my grandmother, got married, and started a new life in a new home.
I first had the opportunity to visit Portugal when I was 15 years old. I immediately felt a sense of coming home to a place I had never been. You can read more about my story here, but food, wine, and agriculture became a big part of my life as years went on. Now back in my home state of California, I’ve found a way to bring my worlds together.
A part of me felt guilty for temporarily moving to Portugal after college. As we all know quality time with our grandparents is not something to be taken for granted. On a tear filled phone call home to my mother, I asked her if she thought grandpa was mad at me for moving so far away. She simply replied with a smile in her voice and said, “I think he feels like a part of him finally made it back home”
About the Founder, Felicia Coito
In vino veritas– In wine there is truth. Wine brought me to my truth. An ancient industry, one that I fell in love with almost a decade ago. Wine has a luxury connotation and an air of sophistication. It took me a few years to realize that at its heart, wine is an agricultural product. It made me realize that if I wasn’t crediting the people that tended the vineyards or the soil that fed the grapes- who else wasn’t getting credit where credit was due. This led me on a journey that introduced me to some of the best artisans in the world.
But It’s kind of a long story:
The chase for the finer things in life has taken me on a pretty special path. From the time I was around ten years old, ordering market price King Crab legs and shocking the restaurant staff as I finished the whole order, to work in wineries and farms both foreign and domestic, food has been a big part of who I am.
My first love of wine came from a family trip to Madeira, Portugal...the birthplace of my father and maternal grandfather. As an American, wine tasting at 15 sounded like a great afternoon. After a year of difficult weather conditions and a stubborn fermentation, the wine didn’t come out as hoped. However, the winemaker’s passion for his wine wouldn’t get him down. He simply gulped the unimpressive vintage and hoped for better conditions in the next year. This resilience and unconditional love stayed with me.
Lucky enough to be from California, a state that boasts an impressive wine industry, I attended Sonoma State University to attend the Wine Business Program. A unique program that allowed me to be surrounded by the rolling hills of Sonoma and Napa and learn from some of the best in the business.
After Sonoma, I returned to Portugal to meet other artisans. I had the good fortune to travel throughout much of Europe and parts of North Africa. Wherever I visited I made it a point to seek out a small family run restaurant or farmer’s market. I was rarely disappointed, the pride in their production, whatever it was, always struck a cord.
After graduation, I moved to Lisbon, Portugal for a year and explored the wine world there. My wonderful family and friends shared their favorite products and gastronomic recommendations.
Along the way I learned about SlowFood, an organization started in Italy dedicated to advocating for “Good, Clean, and Fair Food”. After discovering that the organization had started a University for those wishing to earn the title of “gastronomes” I did something I never thought I would, I went back to school.
When I left Lisbon, I knew it was only a see you later. I was determined to figure out a way to maintain a connection between my two homes and everyone I have met along the way.
I’m so excited to see Virgil’s Market, a dream for so many years, become a reality.
Europe's West Coast. A humble but beautiful country tucked away on the Iberian Coast. Recognized for its famous Port Wine, stunning beaches, and hospitable people. Portugal is a country of explorers and sailors that have shared their traditions and culture throughout the globe.