The history of W & J Graham’s spans three centuries and throughout that time this acclaimed Port producer has remained an independent family business. The story of Graham’s is the story of two families, both of Scottish origin – the Grahams and the Symingtons – whose commitment to the making of memorable wines has earned for Graham’s a reputation as a leader in the production of outstanding Vintage Ports.
W & J Graham’s was founded in Oporto, Portugal’s second city, in 1820 by the two brothers William and John Graham. The Graham family already had extensive business interests not just in their native Scotland but also in India. The success of their affairs led to them being described by a contemporary historian, as being “among the merchant princes of Great Britain.” The brothers formed the partnership of W & J Graham & Co. with the aim of specialising in the production of the finest Port wines. They channeled their considerable resources and energy towards the pursuit of this goal.
The legendary 1948 Vintage
A succession of superb Vintages were produced by Graham’s, all landmarks in the history of Port; 1908, 1912, 1924 and 1927, followed by the monumental 1945 and the legendary 1948, all confirmed Graham’s as one of the very finest names in Port.
Over half a century after the 1948 was made, Jancis Robinson MW wrote (January 4th, 2005): “ I am still mentally wallowing in what was probably the single finest wine I was lucky enough to drink over the holidays – a well kept bottle of GRAHAM 1948…This was sublime…It was a stomping, attention-grabbing, tub-thumping, speechifying Port full not just of violets and liquorice and prunes, but also of grainy texture and vitality. Everything seemed to be in balance and yet I would not be surprised if it were still going strong in 20 or even 30 years’ time.”
It was this legacy of excellence that was relayed from one family to another when in 1970 the Grahams sold the company to the Symingtons who brought with them their own rich heritage in the Port trade.