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12 Experiences
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Experiences in
  • Douro 12

Graham's Port Lodge

W & J Graham’s magnificent 1890 Lodge is situated on a commanding ridge in Vila Nova de Gaia across the Douro River from Porto and only a few hundred metres from the river’s south bank.

It affords spectacular views of Porto’s historic city centre and the iconic two-tier bridge that connects the two cities of Oporto and Gaia. The entire Lodge has been recently renovated by the Symington family and all its original features restored. Visitors to the Graham’s Lodge can experience the best of three centuries of craftsmanship and heritage.

Graham’s is still a working cellar. No visit to the Lodge will pass without hearing the sounds of the Coopers’ hammers or seeing the lodgemen collecting samples for the tasting room. The building currently houses over 2,000 pipes (oak casks) and 40 tonels and balseiros (large oak vats) of ageing Port wine, as well as extensive cellars of Vintage Port, ageing in bottle.

The granite walls, over half a metre thick, combined with the maritime climate ensure a constant, cool temperature, ideal for the slow ageing of Port. The high ceiling is still supported by the original Riga Pine beams and the beautiful nineteenth century exterior remains intact.

The renovated Graham’s 1890 Lodge was inaugurated by the President of Portugal in March 2013. It has already become a landmark for the promotion and experience of Port in Vila Nova de Gaia, Porto and the rest of Europe.

As you pass through the Lodge’s cavernous cellars you are struck by the distinctive smell of aging Port wine. You pass row upon row of mold-encrusted bottles lain-down in the cellar, some of which date back to the nineteenth century.

The tasting room is an impressive space with high ceilings and big windows, through which the Lodge’s stunning view of the city of Porto can be fully appreciated. Here you can take time to relish the range of Ports available to taste, while your expert guide talks you through your wines.

If you have more time and wish to learn more about Graham's, you can book a tasting in the Vintage Room. With its quiet atmosphere and professional tasting conditions, reclining in an armchair in the Vintage Room with a glass of fine Vintage Port or a rare Single Harvest Aged Tawny will be a memorable experience.

The Graham’s Lodge Shop offers a wide variety of Graham's Ports as well as Ports and Douro DOC wines produced at other Symington Family Quintas. The Lodge shop is the best place to stock up your cellar or for buying unique gift-packaged bottles and wine accessories. Graham’s can also provide a shipping service to ensure your wines reach your cellar in perfect condition.

All guides at the Graham’s 1890 Lodge undergo an intensive training programme, which includes familiarisation with the Douro and Graham’s Quintas. Under the guidance of the viticultural team, they learn about the unique terroir of the Douro, the specific nature of the vineyards, the different varieties of grape and planting styles, as well as the winemaking process.

To complete their preparation, the guides also undergo intensive courses with the Graham’s oenologists on the different styles of wines; with the marketing team to learn about the brand positioning and identity; and with Master Cooper Emílio at the cooperage, where he reveals the secrets of his profession.

The training is also supplemented with courses on Douro DOC wines. After the initial training, special care is taken to ensure that the team regularly takes part in wine tasting events, supported by the Graham’s oenologists.

To ensure the best service for visitors to the Graham’s 1890 Lodge, there are guided tours in a broad range of languages, a fundamental consideration when putting the teams together. In 2013, for example, the team was made up of eleven different nationalities: Portuguese, English, Spanish, Italian, French, Russian, Polish, Ukrainian, Danish, German and Dutch: adding value to the experience of the many visiting international tourists.

On arrival at the 1890 Lodge, the Graham’s museum gives the visitor a fascinating overview of the history of Port wine as well as the Graham and Symington families’ involvement in the Port trade and their lives in the city of Oporto and the Douro.

The journey that every barrel of wine makes from the vineyards in the Upper Douro Valley down the river to the Lodge in Vila Nova de Gaia is illustrated by many heritage photographs and valuable artefacts.

Some of the museum’s highlights are:
A priceless Patek Philippe Royal Watch, made in 1887 for the Queen of Portugal, and acquired by the Symington Family at auction
Letters of thanks from Queen Elizabeth II and President Barack Obama
Invoices showing Winston Churchill’s preference for Graham’s Ports
A valuable collection of Port bottles, with originals from the early 18th century to the mid 20th century.
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