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.
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.