W. & J. Graham’s Port
Graham’s has always been a pioneer. It was one of the first Port companies to invest in its own vineyards in Portugal’s Douro Valley in 1890 and is now at the cutting edge of innovation in winemaking techniques. Today, five Symington cousins share responsibility for every aspect of the company and personally make the Graham’s wines. They too have been involved with Port and the Douro for many generations, with ancestry dating back to the mid-17th century.
1820 – Brothers William and John Graham establish their firm.
William and John Graham founded their firm in Porto in northwest Portugal to trade in textiles. In 1820, they accepted 27 barrels of Port as payment for a debt. The two brothers decided then to devote their energies to making the best Port wines from the Douro Valley: and so the Graham’s Port house was born.
The Graham family already had extensive business interests overseas, both in their native Scotland and in India. They were considered by one contemporary historian to be ‘among the merchant princes of Great Britain’.
1882 – Andrew James Symington arrives in Portugal.
The Symington family has had connections to W & J Graham’s since 1882 when the young Scottish businessman, Andrew James Symington, came to Porto to work for the company. In 1891 he married Beatrice de Leitão de Carvalhosa Atkinson, whose ancestors has been involved in the Port trade since the 17th century.
When Andrew James, known to everyone as AJ, first visited the Douro Valley he was spell-bound. This began a dedication to Port and the Douro that has not diminished in over five generations of Symingtons. He passed this passion onto his sons and so did they to theirs; and so the legacy of this family of wine-producers continues.
Beatricede Leitão de Carvalhosa Atkinson was descended from Walter Maynard, English Consul in Oporto in the seventeenth century, who, in 1652, had shipped thirty-nine pipes of Port to England. This pre-dates any other British Port company, thus making him one of the very first foreign Port shippers. The Symington family, therefore, has a heritage that spans thirteen generations, with the fourteenth ready and waiting in the wings to take up the mantle.
1890 – Acquisition of Quinta Dos Malvedos.
Graham’s successes and extensive knowledge of the Douro Valley led to the company becoming one of the first to invest in their own vineyards. In 1890 Graham’s acquired the beautiful Quinta dos Malvedos: this was a pioneering and farsighted move.
The Malvedos vineyards are perfectly situated, with an ideal south-facing aspect, an exceptional terroir and a ridge on which was built the magnificent estate house. Malvedos is recognized as one of the Douro Valley’s finest ‘River Quintas’, consistently producing grapes of the highest quality which are the keystone in Graham’s greatest wines.
Today, all of Graham’s Ports are produced exclusively from vineyards owned and tended to by Graham’s team. Making wine requires a fine balance of experience, art and science.
It was the Grahams brothers’ deep understanding of the Douro region and its wines, and their good relationships with the local farmers that first established Graham’s exceptional reputation. Graham’s had a tradition of purchasing grapes from the best regions of the Douro valley. These were long-standing relationships, built on trust and mutual respect, which underpinned the consistent quality of Graham’s wines since its inception.
In the same year, Graham’s built a magnificent new Lodge in Vila Nova de Gaia to store and mature their wines in the best possible conditions. The Lodge is situated on a hill-top overlooking the historic city of Porto a short distance from the estuary of the Douro River. Vila Nova de Gaia has a temperate maritime climate, ideal for ageing Port wine. Today all Graham’s Ports come to the 1890 Lodge where they are aged and cared for by a dedicated team of Coopers, Cellar hands and Tasters.
1970 – Acquisition of Graham’s by the Symington Family.
Graham’s first harvest under the ownership of the Symington family was extremely auspicious, with Graham’s 1970 Vintage Port being declared. The 1970 is thought by many to be one of the greatest wines of that century.
Nearly a hundred years after their ancestor AJ Symington left Graham’s to set up on his own as a Port producer, the family’s relationship with this Port house came full circle.
Besides the family’s other Port marques, Graham’s is the only remaining British Port company independently owned by a single family. This ensures that every aspect in the making of Graham’s Ports is controlled and cared for intimately.
Promise of Quality
The quality of Graham’s Port relies on the finest grapes, primarily sourced from five iconic quintas in the Douro Valley: Quinta dos Malvedos, Quinta do Tua, Quinta das Lages, and two others, Quinta da Vila Velha and Quinta do Vale de Malhadas, which are privately owned by a member of the Symington family. Located in the heart of the Upper Douro Valley, all of these quintas enjoy the hot and dry microclimate and unique schist soil only found in this region. Together, these two factors provide the perfect conditions for both the growth and optimum ripening of the grapes.
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