Portraits of the Douro
– António Júlio Vieira –

António Júlio Vieira. Douro.
António Júlio Vieira. Photograph: Adriano Ferreira Borges.
In this series we will interview the people that live, work and travel in the Douro Valley. This week, Adriano Ferreira Borges speaks to António Júlio Vieira.
AFB: Hello there. What’s your name, and what do you do for a living?
António Júlia Vieira: My names is António Júlio Vieira, and I work for myself.

AFB: Are you from Foz Tua?
AJV: No, I’m from São Mamede de Ribatua (Alíjo).

António Júlio Vieira on the banks of the Douro. Photograph: Adriano Ferreira Borges.

AFB: Not too far away so! What sort of food do you like?
AJV: All that’s good (laughs), but only if your paying!

AFB: Ah go on, you must have a favourite!
AJV: I like diversity, and mostly greens. All sorts of greens!

AFB: And to wash it down? Do you have any connection with wine production in the region?
AJV: Well, I’ve always worked for myself. I worked in construction and built my own house and buildings, but I don’t do that anymore. My children don’t want houses! On the side I produce wine for myself, and sell what’s left to the co-op winery. 

AFB: How do you think the Douro will be in ten year’s time?
AJV: I think it won’t change too much. The elderly are already dying and the young don’t want to work!

AFB: What about the increase in tourism?
AJV: It’s true that its growing. And that’s a good thing, at least, as the region needs to make a bit of money somehow!

AFB: And what about yourself, do you ever go on holidays?
AJV: Me? That depends. I’ve gone to Madeira and to the Azores. And some years I’ve just stayed here.

AFB: Alright, thanks for talking to me.

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Portraits of the Douro
– António Augusto Ribeiro –

António Augusto Ribeiro. Portraits of the Douro
António Augusto Ribeiro. Photo: Adriano Ferreira Borges.
In this series we will interview the people that live, work and travel in the Douro Valley. This week, Adriano Ferreira Borges speaks to António Augusto Ribeiro, Douro farmer and ardent Benfiquista.
AFB: Good morning! What’s your name, and what do you do for a living?
AAR: My name is António Augusto Ribeiro, and I’m a farmer.

AFB: Are you from around here?
AAR: I am indeed. I’m from Fiolhal (Carrazeda de Ansiães).

António Augusto Ribeiro and his van. Photo: Adriano Ferreira Borges.

AFB: Great! So you like living in the Douro I take it?
AAR: Definitely! It’s the best place in the country!

AFB: What’s your favourite food?
AAR: Feijoada à transmontana (this is a typical bean stew from the Trás-os-Montes region of Portugal).

AFB: Have you ever worked in wine production?
AAR: Yes, many years ago, it must be 40 now, I worked for Smithes (referring to John Smithes, the pioneering Cockburn’s winemaker known as the “cowboy of the Douro”). Then we used to carry the grapes on our backs. It was hard work I’ll tell you!

AFB: And do you think the Douro has changed much since then?
AAR: Or course. In the past, this was a difficult place to live and work, but now, with machinery it’s much easier.

AFB: In ten years, where do you see the Douro?
AAR: How should I know! Why don’t you go and ask António Costa (the prime minister) and Marcelo (the president)!

AFB: Good answer. I’ll leave you to it so!

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To New Beginnings

Sundial at Symington Family Estates Quinta do Vesuvio
Sundial, Quinta do Vesuvio. Photograph: Adriano Ferreira Borges

For the last eight years, the Graham’s blog has routinely and reliably provided information on the ebb and flow of the viticultural year in Quinta dos Malvedos, along with other reports and updates from the Douro Valley and Vila Nova de Gaia. To our great satisfaction, our content appealed to a wide audience, from wine critics and writers, to wine enthusiasts and everyone with an interest in the wines of Symington Family Estates, and what is one of the oldest demarcated wine regions in the world.

As such, after almost 650 posts, it is with some apprehension that we have decided to stop updating Graham’s blog and replace it with this, the Symington Family Estates’ blog. Of course, the Graham’s blog will remain online for some time, after which its contents will be archived here for future reference

Here we will continue to publish the content for which the Graham’s blog was known; updates from the viticultural year in our Douro vineyards, the yearly harvest reports, and other assorted announcements from the Port trade. However, we also want to tell the stories of what are Symington Family Estate’s greatest assets, our wines, our quintas, and the people of the region.

Who knows what platforms we will use to share our stories a decade from now, but we do know that many of the wines we produce, such as Graham’s 2009 Quinta dos Malvedos Vintage Port, the first of our wines whose production was chronicled online, will still be slowly ageing, as they have been for generations.

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