Portugal's island of Madeira, found off the north west coast of Africa, is best known for the production of Madeira wine, a rich and aromatic fortified wine which was once produced by sailors looking for ways to extend the life of the still wines they had made for their long sea voyages. Madeira wine is still made to this day on the island, where the copious vineyards which cover the more accessible parts enjoy year round sunshine, and an oceanic, tropical climate ideal for growing big, juicy and highly flavorful and aromatic grapes. The majority of grapes grown on Madeira are of the Malvasia and Sercial varietals, although a relatively wide range of grapes can be and is used in the production of dry or sweet Madeira wine.
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.