The Symington family
The Symington family has been directly involved in Port for five generations, since 1882 when the first Symington, Andrew James, moved from Scotland to Portugal to work for W & J Graham’s.
But their ancestry in Port goes back even further, for fourteen generations. When Andrew James married the current generation of Symingtons’ great-grandmother, the half-Portuguese, Beatrice Leitão de Carvalhosa Atkinson, he married into a lineage that goes all the way back to Walter Maynard, who in 1652 was one of the very first British Port merchants to export wine from Oporto.
The family company, Symington Family Estates, is the leading producer of premium quality Ports in the world, with brands such as Graham’s, Cockburn’s, Dow’s and Warre’s. SFE is also the leading vineyard owner in the Douro Valley with 1006 hectares (2486 acres) of vineyards across 27 Quintas, all of which are managed according to sustainable viticulture standards and much of it is organically farmed. Many of the region’s finest Quintas belong to this independent family company.
The family has also, in recent decades, become a producer of world-class dry (Douro DOC) wines, adding to their long standing prestige as Port producers. In partnership with Bruno Prats of Bordeaux, the Symingtons make the award winning first-growth red wine, Chryseia and the second wine, Post Scriptum under brand Prats + Symington partnership. SFE also produces its own range of Altano wines, which are made from their vineyards in the remote Vilariça Valley, where they own the largest area of organically farmed vineyards in Portugal.
Symington Family Estates is consistently the most awarded Port producer in the most prestigious international competitions. And in recent years the family’s dry wines have begun to gain an impressive reputation as Portuguese wines generally find their place on the international stage.
The family believes that this success is the direct result of extensive vineyard ownership. Only through owning and managing the vineyards directly can the family ensure consistent and excellent quality in all the company’s wines.
The family decided in 1989, when they bought Quinta do Vesúvio, that the sole objective would be to create outstanding vintage wines, initially focusing exclusively on Vintage Port and later adding Douro DOCboth Port and Douro D.O.C, both of which expressing the specific characteristics of the property’s diverse vineyard parcels in each particular year. Symington Family Estates also operates six other boutique small, specialist wineries across the Douro, dedicated to producing Vintage Ports and Douro D.O.C wines.