The known origins of the van Zeller family refer back to the 13th Century, to the Flemish cities of Mechelen and Nijmegen, where they held several properties, namely, in the village of de Zellaer. During the 17th Century, in the rouse of the religious wars that ravaged the northern and central Europe at that time, the van Zellers migrated to Spain and Portugal, countries where they came to settle.
Their connection to the wine business dates back from the beginning of the 17th Century, according to the wine records Livros da Imposição (1620-1640) that refer to the trader Jorge Fernandes and his son-in-law Francisco da Silva Moura, ancestors of the Portuguese legacy of the family, as the biggest wine traders registered at that time. These ancestors of the van Zeller family are the first known members of an uninterrupted series of 14 consecutive generations devoted, to present days, to Port and Douro wine trade, an unprecedented fact in any other Portuguese family "dynasty” involved in the wine business. Barão de Vilar – Vinhos, SA is the most recent company of Port wine, established in January 1996 from a small stock of wine bought by Fernando Luis van Zeller and given to his sons Fernando and Álvaro.
The company’s institutional name recovers a noble title granted by the Queen of Portugal D. Maria II to Cristiano Nicolau Kopke, the 1st Baron of Vilar, back in 1836, which remains, by legacy, in the family’s rightful heir possession. Before Barão de Vilar – Vinhos SA was built, the van Zellers were owners of Quinta do Noval, one of the most iconic and renowned estates of the Port Wine business sector and from where comes the mythical "Vintage 1931 Nacional”, considered one of the two best wines of the world in the 20th Century by Wine Spectator magazine.
It was also at Quinta do Noval that the current winemaker of Barão de Vilar – Vinhos SA, Álvaro van Zeller, initiated his professional career in the wine industry.