Paul Symington

Paul Symington will be speaking at the breakfast session, Families in wine - triumphs and tribulations

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Paul Symington is Chairman and Joint Managing Director of Symington Family Estates which owns some of the world’s leading Port companies including Graham’s, Cockburn’s, Dow’s and Warre’s. The family own 26 different vineyards in separate locations in the Douro valley, each being a unique terroir. These amount to 1,024 hectares of prime vineyard.

Since 2000 the Symington family have been amongst a new generation of wine makers producing red and white wines in the Douro region with Quinta do Vesuvio, Altano and Chryseia (a joint venture with the Prats family). In April 2017 the Symington family acquired their first estate outside of the Douro region: Quinta do Fonte Souto, in the Alentejo, with 43 hectares of vine.

Paul is also Chairman of John E. Fells & Sons, one of the UK’s leading importers and distributors of premium wines.

The eldest son of Michael and Elizabeth Symington, Paul was born in 1953 in Oporto, becoming one of the fourth generations of Symingtons raised in the Port trade, although his ancestry in Port dates back more than three centuries and thirteen generations to 1652 through his great-grandmother, Beatrice Leitão de Carvalhosa Atkinson. He was educated at the Oporto British School followed by the Oratory School in Berkshire, England. After school he studied French at the Université de Neuchâtel in Switzerland before gaining a BA in Business Studies at the University of Westminster In London.

After a year in Paris working in a private bank, Paul joined the British retailer Boots before returning to Oporto to join the family Port business in 1979. A year later he was made a director and in 1988 he was appointed Joint-Managing Director. Since 2003 he has been Chairman of the family company.

Paul was vice president of the Port Wine Shippers Association from 1990 to 1995 and a counsellor on the Port Wine Institute’s General Council. He is a founder member of the Port Wine “Confraria” and a member of the Factory House in Oporto, where he was Treasurer (President) on two occasions. He is also a member of the Oporto Cricket & Lawn Tennis Club, the Clube Portuense and the Commercial Association in Oporto and Boodles Club in London. Paul served as vice president of the General Council of the University of Porto from 2013-2017.

Paul Symington was nominated Honorary President of the London based International Wine and Spirit Competition in 2004. In 2012 he was nominated Decanter Man of the Year. In 2013 he received the title of Douro Personality of the Year from the University of Vila Real (UTAD) and in the same year he was awarded the Medal of Merit by the City of Vila Nova de Gaia. In 2014 Paul Symington was nominated Wine Personality of the Year by ‘WINE-Essencia do Vinho’. In February 2015 he was awarded Grand Officer of the Portuguese Order of Merit by President Cavaco Silva.

Paul Symington lives in Portugal with his wife Jane and has four children (Robert, Charlotte, Louisa and Harry; the eldest two are now working in the family business). As well as chairing his family companies, Paul farms his own 35 ha vineyard in the Douro valley.