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Paul Symington is named Decanter wine man of the year

Paul Symington, chairman of Symington Family Estates, has been named Decanter Magazine's wine man of the year. The Symington family have a 350 year old tradition with Port in the Duouro valley, Portugal where they own 23 quintas. The estate is currently run by Paul with his cousins Johnny and Rupert. Various other family members are involved in the company, each owning a vineyard and managing them.

Starting as Port shippers the family went on to become wine making pioneers in the 1960s but Paul remembers how ‘grim’ life was for the port shippers when he started work at the company in the mid-1970s. ‘Now we drive nice cars and live very comfortably, but then there wasn’t any money and we couldn’t afford to travel. I never went to England until I was 13.’ he said.

Symington says he refuses to be downcast by the current crisis in Portugal and how, indulging his passion for history, he went through the archives and realises that good times come and go ‘like the seasons’.

Described by Steven Spurrier as 'inspirational' and by Marchese Piero Antinori as the 'trustworthy descendent of a great dynasty,' Symington also makes clear that he is a European – the ‘Europhobia’ of many of the British saddens him – and that he is passionate about his homeland, the Douro, where on his retirement he will live permanently.