The Next Generation: Harry Symington

Harry Symington unloading grapes at the Malvedos winery

After  graduating from Edinburgh University and an internship in London, Paul’s son Harry joined us 17 September at Malvedos to work the entire harvest period with the winery team.  Harry has been doing all the many tasks that the rest of the team have to do, from the initial grape selection on the sorting table, right through to emptying the lagares and tanks after fermentation.  While it was a bit of a culture shock to come here straight from the City, Harry is thoroughly enjoying the experience.

Naturally, he grew up here in Portugal and around Port – some of his earliest memories are of family birthday parties in the Graham’s Lodge and playing hide and seek around the casks, and later he and his cousin Anthony would go for adventurous walks through the vineyards all around the Douro.

Although he knew the fundamentals of how to make Port, Henry Shotton has spent time showing him some of the more scientific and mathematical details of the process – such as calculating the quantity of brandy, the baumé and temperatures, as well as the final corrections to lotes based on the analyses sent back from our lab.  Harry says it has been an incredible experience, very hard work and full on from the time you wake up till you go to bed at night (or early morning if there’s a late fortification), but the comraderie with the team has made it very enjoyable.  He has also really liked the food – getting a full hot meal at lunch and dinner, after years of sandwiches at university, has been a treat, and he has put on at least two kilos so far. Getting off occasionally with the rest of the team to the Calça Curta (the local bar and restaurant) in Tua has been a welcome break, especially when the vintage work requires a full 7 day week.

Malvedos 2012: Tiago, Paulo, Fonseca, Harry, Tom, Juca, Fernando, João

After the harvest, he will be in for the reverse culture shock, returning to London to take up another internship.  Harry plans to pursue a career in marketing or advertising, starting in London, but hopes to be able to come back to Portugal, saying he could never sever the ties here.  Like some of his cousins, he would like eventually to work for the family firm if given the chance, but says there is no pressure to do so, and he is pragmatic about the chances of there being an opportunity for him.

One of Harry’s interests is video – as a kid he started filming James Bond type adventures with his cousins and friends, complete with bad guys lurking in the vineyards.  He says the acting was terrible, but he really enjoyed framing the shots, the Douro is spectacular for this kind of thing.  Although his subject matter has moved on a bit, he still enjoys experimenting with both the filming and the editing processes, as well as finding the perfect musical score.  You can see his short film of the harvest below and more on his Green Man Means Go site.


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