Symington is one of the most important family involved in port production. Their general quarter is in Vila Nova de Gaia, but of course much of the production takes place up in the Douro. Its history goes back to 1882, when Andrew James Symington at just 18 arrived to Portugal from Glasgow. The family became part of the port trade, working first from Graham’s, setting up as a port shipper after a few years.
During its long history Symington has always been a pioneer in the industry: in the 1960s they launched the concept of temperature control for fermenting must and they introduced robotic lagares, a mechanical system to tread grapes. This last step was particularly important because it addressed a big problem of the Douro region, that is the shortage of labour. In the 1980s they were instrumental in promoting a renewed interest in single quinta ports, acquiring the prestigious (but decadent at the time) Quinta do Vesuvio.
Other than Quinta do Vesuvio today the company includes famous brands like Dow’s, Warre, Graham and Cockburn. It also holds a share of the Madeira Wine Company, though it sold the biggest part of its stake to Blandy Group in 2011. Today it exports the 90% of their production and continues in its policy on investing in vineyards and wineries. Paul Symington, managing director of the company, recently told to Bloomberg that low value port is suffering and Symington will concentrate on premium ports, a category which on the contrary shows a relative good growth. At the same time he commented the acquisition of Cockburn, explaining that a mid range relatively high volume port was exactly what the company needed to break trough a number of different markets.