Historical Timeline

The Symington family can trace their lineage in Port back to the 17th century, in other words, to its very beginnings. This timeline charts not only the family’s own bloodline in Port but also the chronology of the famous Port companies that the family gradually came to own.

17th century


Walter Maynard, an ancestor of the Symington family, made the second oldest recorded shipment of Port by a British wine merchant. He became British Consul in Porto in 1659.


Warre’s was founded. It is the oldest British Port company and the first to be acquired by Andrew James Symington over two hundred years later in 1905.

18th century


Silva & Cosens, better known as Dow’s Port was founded. Andrew James Symington became a partner in the company in 1912.

19th century


The Atkinson family, ancestors of the Symington family, arrived in Portugal and became successful Port producers and shippers.


Cockburn’s was founded. It was eventually acquired by the fourth generation of the Symington family in 2010.


Graham’s was founded. Graham’s was the Port producer that introduced Andrew James Symington to Portugal and to Port. His grandsons acquired this famous company on its 150th anniversary when it was put up for sale in 1970.


Andrew James Symington, aged 19, sailed to Porto from his native Scotland to work for Graham’s.


Andrew James Symington became an independent Port shipper.


Andrew James Symington married Beatrice Leitão de Carvalhosa Atkinson.

20th century


Andrew James Symington became a partner in Warre & Co. He became its sole owner in 1908.


AJS became a shareholder in Dow’s and assumed responsibility for the operation in Portugal, including the Douro vineyards. His grandsons became Dow’s sole owners in the early 1960s.


The first of the second generation, Maurice Symington, entered the family company, shortly followed by John and Ronald Symington.


The first of the third generation, Michael Symington, joined the family company, shortly followed by Ian and James.


The family acquired the highly regarded Port producer, W & J Graham’s.

Warre’s Port tercentenary: 1670 - 1970.

Maurice Symington was awarded the Portuguese Order of Merit for the family’s contribution to Portuguese wines and agriculture. He had also been awarded the Ordem Militar de Aviz for his service with the Portuguese Army in France in 1917 and 1918.


The first of the fourth generation, Paul Symington, joined the family company, shortly followed by Johnny, Rupert, Dominic and Charles.


The Symington family acquired Quinta do Vesúvio, one of Portugal’s legendary vineyards.


Symington Family Estates became a founding member of Primum Familiae Vini, an international association of leading family-owned wine companies.


Charles Symington planted his first research vineyard at Quinta da Cavadinha.


Dow’s bicentenary: 1798 – 1998.

Peter and Charles Symington introduced the first modern lagar in the Douro.

Recent history


The first of the Symington family’s Douro DOC wines were launched: Altano and Chryseia (the latter in partnership with the Prats family of Bordeaux).


Cockburn’s Douro quintas, Vila Nova de Gaia Port lodges and all wine stocks are acquired.


Dow’s 2007 Vintage Port was awarded a perfect 100 Points by Wine Spectator and still is the only Port produced in the 21st Century with 100 Points.


Symington assumed full control of Cockburn’s with the acquisition of the brand.


Decanter Magazine named Paul Symington ‘Decanter Man of The Year’. The first time a producer from Portugal has received this accolade.


Graham’s 1890 Lodge Visitor Centre and Vinum Restaurant is inaugurated by the President of Portugal.


The first of the fifth generation, Charlotte Symington, joined the family company.

Wine Spectator ‘Wine of The Year’ was awarded to Dow’s 2011 Vintage Port, ranked Nº1 in the TOP 100, whilst Chryseia 2011 Douro DOC is ranked Nº3, an unprecedented achievement of historic significance for the Douro.

The Quinta do Ataide Vine Library with 53 different grape varieties was planted for research purposes.


Cockburn’s bicentenary year (1815 – 2015).

The family’s first visitor centre in the Douro Valley at Quinta do Bomfim was inaugurated by the Prime Minister of Portugal.

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