Every year Graham’s gears up for the summer season by hiring and training additional guides for the Lodge. Our guides are simply the best: friendly and knowledgeable, and fully prepared to answer all your questions about Port wine, the Douro, Graham’s and Symington Family Estates.
The new team began work in mid-March and spent their first week simply watching and working alongside the veteran staff, and only began their formal training last week. Paul Symington makes a point every year of personally welcoming the guides and getting to know them at an informal Monday morning breakfast gathering in our head office. He spoke to the group about the long history and commitment of the Symington family to the Port trade, the Douro and to Graham’s and the importance of the Lodge guides’ role in conveying all of that to our visitors. Afterwards Henri Sizaret of our Marketing department spoke to the team about the brand heritage and image, and how their role at the Lodge fits into and supports the messages we try to convey in all our marketing efforts.
After lunch and for the balance of the week, the group enjoyed – really enjoyed! – training sessions on a wide variety of subjects – anything, in fact, that our visitors may want to know.
Most important of course is learning about our wines. João Pedro Ramalho and Pedro Correia of our wine making team each spent an intensive half day with the guides teaching them about Port and Douro DOC wines respectively. This included detailed explanations of everything from climatic conditions in the Douro and their effect on the quality of our wines to the morphology of grapes, as well as a thorough review of the logistics and technicalities of harvesting, winemaking, blending, ageing, bottling and serving. Finally – and most importantly – the guides learned to simply appreciate our wines. To this end they were served samples of every Graham’s port style as well as a range of our Douro DOC wines. The wine makers then talked through each of the wines and explained how the flavour profiles are a direct result of the specific winemaking techniques behind that particular style of wine.
Additional sessions led by veteran guides covered the various kinds of tours and tastings we offer, the Lodge Shop and our wine shipping services. The team also visited our bottling plant and the tanoaria – the cooperage – where Sr. Emilio showed them how we maintain all the wooden casks in which we age our Ports.
Finally, the team spent two full days in the Douro to see our vineyards and wineries for themselves and meet the viticulturists whose work is so critical to the quality of Graham’s ports. Based at Quinta dos Malvedos and Quinta do Tua for their stay, where Alexandre Mariz met them and showed them the Malvedos adega, they visited other key Symington properties across the region, including Quinta do Vesuvio, Cockburn’s Quinta dos Canais, Dow’s Quinta da Senhora da Ribeira and Quinta do Bomfim, and Warre’s Quinta da Cavadinha where our research viticulturist Miles Edlmann gave them an intensive lesson in viticulture.
The team are now back in Vila Nova de Gaia and ready to make your visit to the Lodge a pleasure, and answer all your questions. All our team are multi-lingual and as always we are able to offer tours in English, Portuguese, French, Spanish, German and Italian. This year we have guides fluent in Russian and Polish as well.
Kneeling in front, left to right: Serafim, Bruno, Yulia, Nuno, Markus, Ana. Standing in back: Luis, Rosalina, Raul, Jorge, João, Emiliano, Tom, Mariana, Cátia, Anastasia, Delphine, Dorota, Carolina, Herminio, Ana
The Graham’s Lodge begins its summer hours on Monday 2 April, and will be open seven days a week from 10:00 until 18:00 through October. Note that we will be closed on Sunday 8 April for the Easter Holiday.