From his new home in London, Bruno da Silva began importing wine to England from his native Portugal in 1789, thus beginning Dow's long history as a Port house. Through the challenges of sea transport and periodic war, da Silva maintained his successful business and passed it on to his son and then grandson, who joined with Frederick William Cosens, and later George Acheson Warre in forming Silva & Cosens. This firm merged with Dow & Co, another successful Port house, in 1877 and adopted Dow's as the brand name for the new partnership, which quickly solidified its reputation among the best in the Port trade. The next step for the business was investment in the vineyards of the Douro, a move that would prove extremely rewarding in the future, as they had chosen the finest areas in the valley. The vineyards Senhora da Ribeira, purchased in 1890, and Quinta do Bomfim, purchased in 1896, form the foundation for Dow's great vintage ports. The Symingon family, which now owns Dow's, privately holds two other vineyards, Quinta do Santinho and Quinta da Cerdeira. These four vineyards together total over 90 hectares.
Port-making at Dow's is done in a traditional manner. A portion of the grapes are tread by foot in stone lagares
, and the rest by a revolutionary automated treading machine. Because fermentations are cut short by the necessary addition of grape spirit to the juice, it is essential to maximize skin to juice contact in the first few days of fermentation; the robotic treading machine does just that, producing wines that hold to Dow's stellar reputation.
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