In December 2017, Symington Family Estates and the University of Trás-os-Montes and Alto Douro (UTAD) in Vila Real signed an agreement establishing the Symington Scholarships, which will support aspiring students wishing to pursue studies at the university, namely in the Oenology and Agricultural Engineering degree courses. Over the last 30 years, the university, located in the Douro’s regional capital, has trained new generations of winemakers who have made and continue to make a vital contribution to the growing reputation of Douro wines, both dry and fortified.
Starting with the 2018/2019 academic year, two scholarships will be granted annually to cover the full tuition fees of two undergraduate students for the duration of their three-year courses. The selection process will be conducted by UTAD and the criteria will be as follows:
- Candidates must be natives of or reside within the Douro Demarcated Region.
- One student whose family lack the necessary financial resources to fund university education.
- One student with proven academic excellence wishing to pursue his/her studies at university level.
Each year, two students will be supported and therefore within three years there will be six students benefiting from these scholarships. This support scheme will run for at least three years and will be automatically extended for similar time periods.
Symington Family Estates counts amongst its staff numerous holders of degrees in both Oenology and Agricultural Engineering from UTAD, many of whom occupy senior positions in the company in areas as varied as winemaking, viticulture, research and development, environmental certification/quality assurance, sales and wine tourism.
Symington Family Estates has a very significant presence in the Douro region where it owns and farms 1,024 hectares of vineyards spread across 26 different properties which are at the heart of the award-winning wines the company produces. Two-fifths of the company’s 500 employees live and work in the Douro and the company is thus a major contributor to the local economy, both in terms of providing a livelihood for many families and through the annual purchase of grapes from several thousand growers.
The Symington family values its social, environmental and cultural commitment to the region and over the last decade significant support has been granted to wildlife conservation through the annual support grant given to the Wildlife Rescue Centre, which operates within UTAD’s Veterinary Hospital. The centre is dedicated to nursing back to health hundreds of injured birds of prey (as well as other animals) and is recognized as one of the finest of its kind in the Iberian Peninsula. Furthermore, the well-being of local communities is also of importance to the family through the annual donation of an ambulance to local fire brigades. To date, ten ambulances have been donated to the local fire services who are often the first responders in emergency situations to isolated rural populations.