Situated off the north west coast of Africa, the island of Madeira is home to one of Portugal's best known and widely loved imports. Madeira wine has been made for centuries from the grape varietals which thrive and flourish on the island, and is the lasting evidence of the innovation shown by Portuguese and British sailors, keen to make their wine last longer on ocean voyages. Madeira is an idyllic place, and a wonderful location for viticulture. The blazing sunshine lasts almost all year long, and provides plenty of time for slow, full ripening of quality grape varietals such as Malvasia and Sercial, whilst the mineral rich and volcanic soils of the island provide the vines with all the nutrients and character they require.
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.