Madeira Wine - The precence is all over the place

Sans Peur
Grete & Fred Vithen
Fri 13 Oct 2017 09:36

Development and success (15th – 18th centuries)

Madeira's location made it an ideal stopping location for voyages to the East Indies.

The roots of Madeira's wine industry date back to the Age of Exploration, when Madeira was a regular port of call for ships travelling to the East Indies. By the 16th century, records indicate that a well-established wine industry on the island supplied these ships with wine for the long voyages across the sea. The earliest examples of Madeira were unfortified and had the habit of spoiling at sea. However, following the example of Port, a small amount of distilled alcohol made from cane sugar was added to stabilize the wine by boosting the alcohol content (the modern process of fortification using brandy did not become widespread until the 18th century). The Dutch East India Company became a regular customer, picking up large (112 gal/423 l) casks of wine known as "pipes" for their voyages to India.

The intense heat in the holds of the ships had a transforming effect on the wine, as discovered by Madeira producers when one shipment was returned to the island after a long trip. The customer was found to prefer the taste of this style of wine, and Madeira labeled as vinho da roda(wines that have made a round trip) became very popular. Madeira producers found that aging the wine on long sea voyages was very costly, so began to develop methods on the island to produce the same aged and heated style. They began storing the wines on trestles at the winery or in special rooms known as estufas, where the heat of island sun would age the wine.

The 18th century was the "golden age" for Madeira. The wine's popularity extended from the American colonies and Brazil in the New World to Great BritainRussia, and Northern Africa. The American colonies, in particular, were enthusiastic customers, consuming as much as 95% of all wine produced on the island each year.

There is a Madeira wine for every occasion.


Part of restoring interior.