The island of Madeira has been home to one of the world's most distinctive and widely drank fortified wines for centuries. Back in the 16th and 17th centuries, Portugal was a vastly important nation, keen on discovering the world. Madeira acted as a useful and strategically important port, off the north west coast of Africa, and proved to be an ideal location for viticulture. Indeed, before long the Portuguese were planting hundreds of vineyards, and making the most of the blazing sunshine and mineral rich volcanic soils found all over the island. Grape varietals such as Malvasia and Sercial flourished in the almost-tropical climate, and a wine industry was born which prevails and remains strong to this day, albeit one which is primarily based on a fortified wine developed by the sailors of antiquity.
One of the oldest regions of Portugal for wine production and vine cultivation is the Bairrada, the lush and clay-rich region responsible for an impressive range of red, white and rosÃ© wines of exceptional quality. As with much of the country, this region benefits from long, hot summers, allowing the grapes to ripen to full maturity and thus carry a wide range of flavors and aromas. However, each region of Portugal produces wines which reach a high level of quality, from the more urbanized regions around Lisbon and Porto, where the famous fortified and Colares wines originate, to the island of Madeira and the Dao river valley, which each have their own distinctive wine cultures. The several thousand years of viticultural history in Portugal has allowed Portuguese wineries to master their own traditional techniques, which are still employed to this day across the country, yielding excellent results for the world to enjoy.