Great wines are born of great vineyards and generations of Symington winemakers have put vineyard ownership at the heart of the family’s winemaking philosophy. The family own 27 quintas (vineyards) in the Alto Douro and these estates are the foundation for the different wines of Graham’s, Cockburn’s, Dow’s, Warre’s and Quinta do Vesúvio, as well as of the Symington family’s Douro DOC wines.
The Symington family own quintas in the best areas of the Douro Valley that together amount to the largest land-holding in this historic wine region. The quality of these vineyards has been significantly enhanced over recent decades by research, much of which was conducted at the Quinta da Cavadinha experimental vineyard in the Pinhão Valley in a project led by Charles Symington. Studies carried out here have helped, amongst other things, to identify the best combination of the Douro Vitis vinifera varieties and American rootstocks onto which they are grafted.
In 2014 the Symington Grape Variety Library was established at Quinta do Ataíde. This vineyard has 53 distinct grape varieties and will make an important contribution to the knowledge of Douro and other Portuguese vines in the coming years (see separate entry in this section).
The Symington ownership amounts to 1,035 hectares of vineyards that provide most of the grapes required for their premium quality wines such as Reserve, Late Bottled Vintage and Old Tawny Ports. Since 2011 the family’s Vintage Ports have been entirely sourced from the family’s own quintas. These estates are fundamental to the success and international recognition that the family have received for their wines.
In addition to this Symington Family Estates purchases grapes from approximately 1,200 growers in the Douro, many of whom have supplied the company for several generations. These farmers’ vineyards, some of which are very small, are tended with passionate care by their owners and have excellent quality grapes that are of the greatest importance to Symington.
Of Symington’s total Douro vineyards, 221 ha are owned and managed privately by family members, who sell their grapes to the family-owned Port companies, depending on the style, quality and location of each of these vineyards. This is clear evidence of the family’s profound commitment to the Douro region and to its wines.