The firm behind the port brand Dow’s, Silva and Cosens, began in 1798, when a Portuguese merchant, Bruno da Silva, set up business in London to import wines from his native country. Bruno thrived in London, the wines developed a strong reputation, and the business continued down through the generations, taking in Frederick William Cosens as a partner in 1862, and in 1868 George Acheson Warre (of another long-established Port trade family) joined the firm, taking responsibility for the wine making in Portugal.
In 1877 Silva & Cosens merged with another Port company, Dow & Co. As this firm also had a strong reputation for the quality of its Ports, particularly its Vintage Ports, it was decided to adopt Dow’s as a brand name for the wines produced by Silva & Cosens.
Meanwhile, Andrew James Symington arrived in Porto in 1882, to work for Graham’s, a firm which, in addition to its Port shippingactivities, also conducted a general trading business, where AJS began his career. After just a few years he left Graham’s and became involved with the Port trade, becoming a partner in Warre & Co in 1905.
In 1912 George Acheson Warre decided to return to England and invited AJS to manage the Portuguese end of the Dow’s business: the Douro vineyards as well as the Lodge and stocks in Vila Nova de Gaia. Members of the Symington and Warre families continuedto work together at Dow’s until 1961, when the Symingtons became sole owners of Dow’s.
One of the great assets of Dow’s has to be the Guest Books that have been kept at Quinta do Bomfim from the beginning. In thesebooks George Acheson Warre, his colleagues, and all the Warre and Symington family members who followed him, have recorded their visits and made notes on the state of the vineyards year round, as well detailed records about the quality of the grapes and wines during harvest. These guest books have been an invaluable resource in creating our annual Vintage Reports for this site.