Approximately one fifth of the Symington family’s total vineyard area, is composed of old mixed vines that will eventually reach the end of their lifespan. When this happens it becomes necessary to replant. In some cases, the family have also acquired vineyard parcels contiguous to some of their existing quintas that are in need of replanting. In total, between 2009 and 2014 the family have replanted 150 hectares, which signifies a large investment in the quality of the vineyards.
Research carried out by the Symington viticulture team has highlighted the importance of lesser-known Douro varieties. Many of these had fallen out of favour as the drive for modernization in the 1980s saw most growers concentrating on Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Tinta Roriz, Tinta Barroca and Tinto Cão.
Charles Symington is a strong advocate of Sousão, a variety forgotten by many growers in the Douro but one that has been planted in several Symington quintas over the last few years. The Symington quintas now have 22 ha planted with this important variety, with the largest plantings at Quinta do Vesúvio, Quinta do Tua, Quinta do Vale Coelho and Quinta da Senhora da Ribeira. Charles also champions the return of Alicante Bouschet to the Douro, and Symington vineyards now have a total of 25 ha planted with this interesting variety.
The red grape varieties planted in Symington quintas are (in descending order of total area planted):