The beautiful and sun-drenched island of Madeira, found off of the north west coast of Africa and which are part of Portugal, have long been the home to one of the world's most loved and widely drank fortified wines, named after the island itself. Madeira is a fascinating island, and one which played an important role in the discovery of the wider world, as it was a vital port between Europe and Africa, or the Americas to the west. The island has been producing wines since the 17th century, when the fortified wine it is famous for was first made, by adding grape spirits to still wines in order to stop it from turning bad on the long sea voyages. Today, the island still has a rich wine industry, helped by the almost tropical oceanic climate it enjoys, and the exceptional soils which support a wide range of grape varietals.
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.