At the very end of 2023, it was announced that Sr. Emílio Oliveira, the head cooper at Symington Family Estates for over 30 years, had sadly passed away. 

Sr. Emílio Oliveira article image

Before his retirement a few years ago, Sr. Emílio Oliveira was responsible for the team of in-house coopers that helped to maintain and preserve the ancient craft of cooperage, fundamental to the ageing of great ports.

In 2016, he was awarded the Gold Medal by the City of Vila Nova de Gaia in recognition for his work. This turned in to a historic moment, marking the first time that the City had given the honour to an artisan of the port trade.

Sr. Emílio Oliveira will be remembered for his remarkable character, incredible commitment, and enduring dedication throughout his career at Symington Family Estates.

Graham’s is one of the few remaining port houses to employ its own team of coopers and are responsible for each vat and cask throughout the lodge. At any one time, the lodge will house around 3,500 casks, holding several million litres of wine. With each cask typically 75-100 years old, they require constant and careful attention from the highly skilled team of coopers.