Symington Family Estates

  • Reference: P-1195-E

  • Number of pages: 18

  • Geographic Setting: Portugal

  • Publication Date: Jun 23, 2021

  • Source: IESE (España)

  • Type of Document: Case

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It was the end of October 2018. Charles Symington was drinking a glass of Graham's 20 Year Old Port together with Rob Symington who had just joined the company after a successful entrepreneurial initiative. Rob would help steer the future of the family-owned business. Both were discussing what decisions to make in the upcoming months, regarding the vintage that had just ended. The quality of the wines to be produced with 2018's vintage was outstanding. Unlike 2014, when the rain and the climatic conditions produced wines with light color and not so impressive structure, the wines produced in 2018 would be at the level of the ones of 2011 and 2016, which showed impressive color concentration, power, balance, and aging potential. Some of the wines produced would be able to go on, showing their best, for decades. Both were happy looking back at a job well done. This success led Charles to think that this vintage would contribute to fulfilling Symington's Mission Statement of being committed to passing on a stronger, more sustainable family wine company than the one that was entrusted to the previous generation. In particular, he thought that as the market was evolving towards older and more expensive Port wines this would be an important year to continue building long-term wine stocks. On the other hand, Rob was concerned with the short-term pressures of losing market share to other alcoholic drinks. He had a different perspective on how to make use of the existing stocks because there was a shortage of young wines in the company stocks. Some critical decisions lay ahead, in the next few months. It would not be easy to decide which wines should be allowed to age 3, 5, 10, 20, 30 to over 40 years and which wines should be used in the short term to fulfill the sales forecasts of the next three years. In other words, which wines should be blended quickly to create homogenous final products? Which wines should be allowed to age separately and show their unique characteristics in a bottle or in wood, anytime in the future?