Portugal's island of Madeira has long been home to one of the world's most recognizable and widely loved fortified wines. Madeira wine was first produced by sailors, who added grape spirits to the wines of Madeira in order to preserve them better on long journeys. Before long, people all over Europe had developed a taste for this highly aromatic, strongly flavored fortified wines, and the wine industry of the small Portuguese island flourished and grew from strength to strength. Madeira is an island highly suited to wine production and vineyard cultivation, with beautiful year round sunshine, and a tropical oceanic climate which allows the grape varietals which grow there to ripen slowly and fully. Add to this a highly fertile volcanic set of soils, and you have viticultural magic which has lasted throughout the centuries, and will no doubt continue to thrive in the future.
Benefiting from both the hot, dry Iberian climate as well as brisk Atlantic winds, Portugal is a perfectly situated country for vineyard cultivation and wine production. With a wine making history which stretches back thousands of years, it comes as little surprise that wine plays an important role in the cultural identity and practices of the country. The Phoenicians, the Carthaginians, the Greeks and the Romans all had a hand in forming Portugal as an important center for wine production, and over the millennia, this resulted in each region of this beautiful part of Europe producing its own distinctive wines easily identifiable and separate from neighboring Spain's. Today, the varied terroir and climate across Portugal allows a great range of wines to be made each year, from the fresh and dry Vinho Verde wines to the famous and widely drunk fortified Port wines, and many in between.