Viticulture & Bio Diversity
Symington Family Estate Initiatives


Biodiversity Support

Support major ecosystem restoration / reforestation project in Portugal.

All of the family’s vineyards are farmed using “Sustainable Agriculture” practices and carried out under a strict protocol of minimum intervention. Any treatment that is not 100% natural is minimized or totally excluded whenever possible. In those years when intervention is imperative to protect the vineyards from pest infestation or mildew (rot) natural mineral treatments are always chosen before other options. The result is that effectively the Symington vineyards are farmed 100% organically 4 or 5 years out of 6.


Bird Recovery Unit

Long-term supporters of Vila Real’s university wildlife rescue centre (CRAS) – cares for injured birds of prey & returns them to the wild.


Endangered Species Research

Collaborations with University of Porto’s Biodiversity Research Centre (CIBIO) on endangered species that live on our properties


Reforestation Initiative

Reforestation programme with indigenous tree species on 100 ha of protected Natural Park at Quinta da Fonte Souto, Alentejo.


Conservation Partnership

New partnership with Rewilding Portugal – supporting their ambitious conservation & enterprise development strategy in the Foz Côa.

Grape Variety

Grape Variety Libraries

x53 varieties planted in three locations – preserving indigenous breeds & studying the impact of climate change on viticulture.

Cover cropping

Cover Cropping

Our widespread use of cover cropping helps us to conserve moisture, combat erosion, control pests, protect biodiversity, build organic matter in the soil & capture carbon.

Cover crops are being planted between the rows of vines that serve a number of purposes. The grasses, Short Growth Barley & Clover grow quicker than invasive weeds and therefore eliminate the need for herbicides. The clover in particular is very rich in nitrogen and therefore substitutes any need for chemical fertilizer. The barley & clover are cut-back a couple of times during the growing season creating mulch and natural organic matter to break-down into the soil. The grasses also protect the soil from winter erosion and in the summer create a small amount of surface shade and therefore substantially reduce the amount of water evaporation from the soil.

A small but significant advantage of the cover crops is that it creates an environment for the bugs and pests to live in rather than in the vine canopy, thereby again significantly reducing the need for any form of intervention. This has also had a significant effect on the wild-life food chain. The bugs are a source of food for the small birds, these in turn are prey for the larger raptor birds such as kites, hawks & buzzards etc, who in turn are prey to eagles. As a result, there has been a significant increase in all bird life since these agricultural practices have been implemented in the vineyards.

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