The House of Croft was founded over three hundred years ago. The earliest evidence of the firm’s activity as a Port Shipper dates from 1678, coincidentally the year of the first ever recorded shipments of Port wine. The company was originally known as Phayre & Bradley after its founding partners and took its present name in 1736 when it was joined by John Croft, a member of an old and distinguished family of Yorkshire wine merchants.
The Croft family played a prominent and influential role in the Port wine trade and elevated the House of Croft to the place of distinction which it occupies to this day. Although well established in Oporto and active in their Port wine business, the Crofts never lost touch with their Yorkshire origins. In his treatise, John Croft describes himself as ‘Member of the Factory at Oporto and Wine Merchant of York’. The family returned to England in the nineteenth century, after the Peninsular Wars, and there are no longer any Crofts in the firm. Nevertheless the family maintained its affection for the fortified wines of the Douro and the late Percy Croft, who died in 1935, is credited with the famous words: ‘Any time not spent drinking Port is a waste of time’.
In 1911 the House of Croft was acquired by the Gilbeys, the distinguished English wine trade family. It is now owned and run by descendants of two old Port wine families, the Yeatman’s and Fladgate’s. The place of distinction occupied by Croft and its wines is due in no small measure to its ownership of one of the finest estates of the Douro Valley, the famous Quinta da Roeda. Roeda has long been recognized as one of the great Port Vineyards and in the Douro Valley there is a common saying, attributed to the nineteenth century poet Vega Cabral, which goes ‘if the wine district were a gold ring, Roeda would be the diamond. Roeda is Vintage Port of a very good year from the Croft estate, Quinta da Roeda, arguably the best property in the Douro Valley. This single Estate Vintage Port will normally mature more quickly than the main classic vintages and show its robust style to perfection within ten to fifteen years.