The British have always enjoyed an amicable relationship with the Portuguese, a relationship which dates back, on and off, to the 12th Century. As a consequence, many of the Port families have British backgrounds, and that includes the Symington family who now own Martinez Port and Tuella Tinto Douro.
The Symington family are the 13th generation to produce wine from the Douro region. Their heritage predates the 1756 demarcation of the Douro Valley, the upper part of which, the Alto Douro, is now a UNESCO World Heritage site. The boundaries of the Douro DOC are determined by an outcrop of schist hemmed in by ancient granite rocks which run for the best part of 100km west from the Spanish border. In 1979 this demarcation was extended to cover table wines as well as fortified wines and by 1998 the Symington family were taking the production of their red wines just as seriously as their Ports.
Depending on the vintage the Douro Valley produces up to 300,000 pipes a year (for yield purposes a pipe is considered to be 550l), and perhaps surprisingly just under half of this is Port.