You might have already heard that name without really knowing their story or how extensive the estate really is. If you visit Porto & Vila Nova de Gaia, your path will undeniably be strewn with multiple Symington brands. With a mix of ancestry (English and Portuguese), this family is extremely representative of the port wine trade. The family’s link to winemaking span back 14 generation but the name Symington just landed in Portugal in 1882.
Just being there for a long time is not enough to achieve such growth. Yet, Symington has managed somehow to take a huge part of the Port and Douro wine share. The family has 2,461 hectares of land in the Douro Valley across 26 individual estates. These properties, known as quintas, encompass more than 1,000 ha of vines. It is one of the most significant vineyard holding of the region. Yet, this is not enough as Symington Family Estates purchases grapes from approximately 1,200 growers in the Douro. As for Port wine, this family’s responsible for the making of approximately 32% of all premium Port categories.
The Port houses they control include Graham’s, Dow’s, Warre’s, Quinta do Vesuvio, Smith Woodhouse, Gould Campbell, Quarles Harris and most recently in 2010, Cockburn’s. Also, since 1999 they have been producing table wines from the Douro.
They have seven specialty Quintas, each with a team of their own, destined to produce higher end products. Of course, these are not the only wineries but it’s the more acclaimed. Quinta do Vesúvio, Quinta da Senhora da Ribeira (Dow’s), Quinta dos Malvedos (Graham’s), Quinta de Roriz, Quinta do Bomfim (Dow’s), Quinta da Cavadinha (Warre’s) and Quinta do Sol can be seen as very different than the rest of the portfolio. These are small production with the upmost quality concern.
Also, a new winery is planned to be built in the Douro. Called Quinta do Ataide, the winery should be ready by 2020.
Vinum restaurant at Graham’s port lodge
If you want to enjoy Porto/Vila nova de Gaia at its fullest, in my opinion there’s just one way to do it: Find a windy terrace with the perfect view over the Douro, sit back and relax for as long as possible. Fortunately for you, I have found the perfect place.
The VINUM Restaurant & Wine Bar opened back in 2013 and is integrated with the historical Graham’s port lodge. A combination of two passionate and extremely Portuguese group, the Symington Family and the Sagardi hospitality group, this was meant for success. Up the hill in Vila Nova Gaia, the restaurant has the perfect view over the Douro which you can enjoy from the pergola covered terrace or the closed Atrium.
What you can expect:
A design impregnated with the Graham’s essence including a clever glass wall revealing rows of Pipes, granite elements and house’s memorabilia. There’s a soft, modern touch to the decor.
Local, fresh Portuguese ingredients and the best traditions of Douro, Trás-os-Montes, Minho and Atlantic. As fresh as it can get, cooked and prepared to keep the ingredient’s purity and traditional aspect but always with a gastronomic touch and upmost quality. You must try the Algarve gigantic Oysters, the Tuna from the Azores marinated with soy and sesame sauce, Iberian ham croquettes, their ceviche with the best fish from Matosinhos Market and the Alheira de Mirandela smoky sausages; or anything really, everything’s so good.
The wine list does put forward the Symington group wines & port, obviously. However, there’s an amazing diversity of Portuguese wines from the Douro as well as other Portuguese winemaking region. I’ve noticed the great wines of Anselmo Mendes in Vinho Verde and tried the very special Quinta de Vesuvio, 2015.
Seriously, what was supposed to be a quick lunch ended in a whole afternoon of treats. I could’ve spent the whole day just chatting with the incredibly fun and lovable staff. The idea and desire of cancelling our next appointment to stay longer was growing stronger as time passed by.