Paul Symington was awarded the 2019 Lifetime Achievement Award today, May 13, 2019, at Vinexpo in Bordeaux. The biennial award, conferred by the Institute of Masters of Wine and the drinks business, honors an inspirational figure in the world of wine who has made enduring contributions during their career. Past recipients include Miguel A Torres (2017), Hugh Johnson OBE (2015), Baroness Philippine de Rothschild (2013), Jean-Michel Cazes (2011), Marchese Piero Antinori (2007) and Robert Mondavi (2005).
Symington, born in Oporto in 1953, joined his family’s Port business in 1979, managing a portfolio that includes Port brands Graham’s, Dow, Cockburn’s, Warre’s and the still-wine house Quinta do Vesuvio. While working his way up to chairman and joint managing director of his family’s company, Symington also served as vice president of the Port Wine Shippers Association; put in time on the general councils of both the Port Wine Institute and the Universidade do Porto; and help establish the Port Wine Confraria. Such work on behalf of the region as a whole inspired the University of Vila Real to name Symington as Douro Personality of the Year in 2013; in 2015, former Portugal President Cavaco Silva awarded him the Grand Officer of the Portuguese Order of Merit.
“The fabric of the great wine regions is mostly sustained by family companies.”
While Symington stepped down from his positions at Symington Family Estates in December 2018, he continues to chair the UK importing company John E. Fells & Sons, as well as the management committee of Primium Familiae Vini, a group of 12 leading European wine families. He also farms 91 acres at his own estate, Quinta das Netas, in the Alto Douro.
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