Cockburn’s was founded in 1815 by Robert Cockburn, a Scottish soldier who had served in the Peninsular War under the Duke of Wellington. Over the course of the 19th century three more families joined the firm and were instrumental in building Cockburn’sreputation: the Smithes, Teagues and Cobbs, and by the early 20th century Cockburn’s Vintage Ports were among the most highlyregarded. Like many Port shippers, the firm suffered in the difficult years following the Second World War, and in 1962 it passed intocorporate ownership.
The firm has a tradition of pioneering viticulture: Cockburn’s were the first to plant experimental vineyards in the 1930s, and in the1970s were instrumental in saving Touriga Nacional from near extinction: although this grape is a winemaker’s delight for itsaromas, flavours, tannins and balanced acidity, it had fallen from favour with the growers, due to its exceptionally low yields.Cockburn’s were remarkable for planting single-variety blocks before this practice became common and for their commitment to theDouro Superior, proving the enormous quality potential of this remote region by producing high quality Ports based on the winesmade from their extensive vineyard holdings east of the Valeira Dam.
In 2006 Symington Family Estates began making the wines under contract to the then owners, and in 2010 were able to buy thebrand and take full control of Cockburn’s. The reputation of Cockburn’s Vintage Ports is rising once again, with Cockburn’s Quintados Canais 2007 Vintage Port winning a Silver Medal at the 2011 Decanter World Wine Awards.