Grape Variety Libraries

We have planted three grape variety libraries in the Douro, at Quinta do Ataíde, Quinta do Bomfim, and at the Tapadinha vineyard close to Quinta do Retiro. Across these research sites, we have planted 53 grape varieties, comprising many rare indigenous Douro varieties as well as other Portuguese varieties and a few well-known international vines to act as references. We are conducting a multi-year study to understand how different varieties perform under different conditions. As well as safeguarding the Douro’s viticultural heritage, we believe this will be a crucial part of adapting to climate change as growing conditions continue to change.

Hydric Stress Study

Water is critically important to our activity and the proper management of this scarcest of resources, especially in the context of climate change, is critically important to our future. Between 2015 and 2017, our viticulture team carried out a hydric stress study in a control vineyard plot at our Quinta do Ataíde property. The experiment explored the limits within which our vines can withstand a combination of lack of water and very high temperatures, without shutting down completely. The findings of this study have provided parameters for efficient and responsible water management, particularly with regard to the measured use of drip-feed irrigation.

Project VineScout

VineScout is a self-propelled, electrically powered vineyard monitoring robot under development by a four-nation pan-European consortium of which Symington Family Estates is one of the partners. The three-year project (2016 – 2019) is working to develop an autonomous vineyard robot that can aid wine producers in measuring key vineyard parameters, including water availability (vine water status), vine leaf/canopy temperature and variations in plant vigour.

Project VISCA

We are partners in VISCA, a new R&D project co-funded by the European Community’s Horizon 2020 programme. VISCA (Vineyards Integrated Smart Climate Application) is a sophisticated forecasting software that will provide us with detailed, long-term climate modelling covering extreme short-term weather events, seasonal forecasting & long-term climate projections (next 20-30 years). This tool will allow us to make very specific interventions in the vineyard to manage climate disruptions.

Deficit Irrigation

We pursue a policy of Deficit Irrigation in certain vineyards which involves only irrigating in situations where the crop is likely to be entirely lost or compromised without the addition of water. We never irrigate in order to increase the crop size and believe that vines that experience a limited amount of hydric stress (as is normal in the Douro) produce the best grapes.

Weather stations

We operate seven different weather stations at our vineyards throughout the Douro Valley which provide real-time data across a range of variables, including day and night air temperatures, rainfall, solar exposure, and air humidity. We also have fixed soil moisture probes in our principal properties across the region. The data provided by the weather stations and soil probes allow us to always be one step ahead in taking timely decisions to preempt unfavourable situations.

Porto Protocol - Founding Members

We are founding members of the Porto Protocol, a business-led response to climate change. The initiative aims to promote sharing best practice between businesses in both adapting to climate change and mitigating further emissions and environmental harm.