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Robotic lagares "best for vintage Port"

Published:  23 July, 2008

The Symington family, which owns Graham's, Dow's, and Warre's Port houses, claims that robotic lagares are the best bet for making top-quality Port.

For the past 2,000 years, Port wines have been made with foot-treading, but three members of the Symington family - Paul, Peter and Charles - said at a seminar in London on Tuesday that after nearly a decade of research, they had decided that top-end Vintage Port can be made perfectly well - if not better - in robotic lagares, compared with traditional ones.

Charles Symington said:"We were not looking for something that would just mimic treading; we wanted to improve upon the existing system."

He highlighted the major drawbacks with foot-treading:

the ongoing labour shortage;

the lack of flexibility as to when it is possible to tread;

the time taken to empty a lagare, causing prolonged fermentation; and

limited temperature control.

Paul Symington said: "We are not looking to eliminate traditional lagares, but we are convinced we are making better wine in these new lagares. If Portugal is going to remain a major wine region then we need to push the boundaries."

A set of three lagares with a robot attachment costs around 95,000.