Tom Symington, Johnny’s son, is getting his gap year off to a fine start with a couple weeks in the Douro.
He began working the week of the 10th at Quinto do Sol, where he assisted in maturation studies for the second year in a row, and also spent some time assisting our research enologist Steve Rogerson with some of his microvinification projects, before coming to work in the Malvedos winery when it opened on the 17th.
The first day’s work of receiving grapes he found really hard and a bit repetitive, and he could not imagine three or four weeks of it, but once the winery was in full swing with not just grapes coming in, but fermentations to monitor, the running off and fortifications, and the full variety of tasks to do, he has found it really fun, with never a dull moment. It helps that the team is great, he finds some of them absolutely hilarious and has really enjoyed the week here, and now wishes he could stay longer.
Tom is no stranger to the Douro of course, growing up here in Portugal. Once he was tall enough to see over the edge of the lagar he was treading grapes every year at Vesuvio until his mid-teens, when the school years began too early for him to stay in the Douro for harvest. He is looking forward to treading again tonight – it is traditional for the entire family to get together one night in the lagares and his parents will be there along with Paul and most of Paul’s family.
After this week at Malvedos he returns to Porto briefly and then begins an internship in the London shop of Berry Brothers & Rudd – it will be shock to go from the blinding sun and heat of the Douro to the cool quiet shop and wine cellars of London.
At the moment his plans beyond BBR are to travel for some months early next year – still trying to co-ordinate friends, transport and destination – and then study biology at Exeter.
Ultimately he would like to come into the family business, on the winemaking and research side of things, but he is realistic that there are far more candidates in his generation than likely openings in the firm, and if he cannot work for Symington Family Estates he will look for another opportunity. Whatever happens, there is no question in his mind that he will be returning to the Douro.