The Douro vineyards and wineries are complemented by the Port lodges in Vila Nova de Gaia, 75 kilometres downriver from the Douro wine region, where Port has traditionally been aged in the ideal maritime climate of this coastal city.
Symington Family Estates has several ancient granite-walled lodges for each of its Port houses in Vila Nova de Gaia. The Cockburn’s Lodge, which houses 4,250 pipes of maturing Port, is the largest in the historic quarter of Gaia and contains more Port in oak barrels and vats than any other lodge. The Graham’s Lodge, which holds 3,500 pipes in wood, is built on a commanding position with superb views of the twin cities of Porto and Gaia. Both are open to visitors. The Dow’s and Warre’s Lodges are located in the back streets of this historic city, but for the moment are not open for visits. The Symington’s Port lodges in Gaia occupy six hectares under traditional tiled roofs, which protect over 55,000 pipes of Port that are maturing in seasoned oak barrels and vats.
Symington Family Estates is also the only Port company with a working cooperage. All other companies have sub-contracted the task. Coopers are essential for the upkeep of the many thousands of oak barrels, called ‘pipes’, which are fundamental for the ageing of Port. A team of seven highly skilled Symington coopers, led by master-cooper Senhor Emilio, maintain and repair the barrels and vats, most of which are over 100 years old and require careful attention and upkeep.