Man of action: Adrian Bridge on his passion for Port

There are few people who could write UN peacekeeping officer, winner of the sword of honour at Sandhurst military academy, and investment banker on their CV. Fewer still that could have turned their hand to wine, leading one of the world’s biggest Port brands to its 325th year. But there is no one that could also boast to have competed in the 1985 European bobsleigh Championships for Great Britain.

Adrian Bridge, CEO of the Fladgate Partnership

“Not a lot of people know that,” quips Adrian Bridge, CEO of the Fladgate Partnership, revealing his brief but intriguing career as a bobsledder with the British Army. Equally intriguing is his 500-strong collection of ancient drinking vessels, which includes a cup from 6,000BC. But it is Port that we are here to discuss, a topic close to Bridge’s heart, and one that led him into the industry in the first place.

Graduating from Sandhurst, Bridge joined the 1st Queen’s Dragoon Guards in 1983 and spent a year as a UN peacekeeping officer in Cyprus during a five-year stint in the Army, before carving out a career as an investment banker in the City. It wasn’t until he met his future wife, Natasha, a descendant of the Yeatman family, that her father, Alistair Robertson, invited him to join one of the Douro’s biggest Port dynasties. Bridge joined The Fladgate Partnership, whose Port brands include Taylor’s, Croft, Krohn and Fonseca, in 1994, and was appointed managing director of the group in 2000. But the decision to turn his back on a career in finance for one in wine was not as easy as it might have seemed, he says.

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