Travel Guide to Madeira Wine Region

The Pearl of the Atlantic

The history of viticulture in the Madeira wine region goes back to the 15th century and it is considered to be the root of the Portuguese wine industry. Vines were first brought to Madeira by English settlers in the 15th century. Through their focus on viticulture and determination on growing excellent vines, the vineyards soon covered a large part of the Madeira landscape. Madeira is the place that first produced white, red and rose Portuguese wines that gained international recognition. For true wine lovers and appreciators, Madeira provides the opportunity to walk down winemaking memory lane. Combine this with the exquisite natural beauty and it makes Madeira a place that should not be missed out on.

Read more about Wineries in Madeira to visit.

Find out about Wine Tasting & Tours in Madeira to enjoy if you visit the region.

Discover breathtaking island of Portugal trough its wines, gastronomy and heritage. Follow the guide to learn more about:

The birthplace of Portuguese wines

How do Madeire Wines Taste?

Places you should not miss to visit

Local island gastronomy

The towns of Boaventura and Arco de Sao Jorge on the island of Madeira
Coast of Madeira Island, Portugal

The Birthplace of Portuguese Wines

Visit the Madeira wine region and enjoy wines that have achieved fame through the ages. The region offers wine lovers a wide range of excellent and high-quality wines. Treat yourself to the world-renowned Madeira fortified wines and visit some of the best wine houses in Portugal.

Vines from Pergolas

The Madeira wine region forms part of the DOC Madeira as well as the Terras Madeirenses VR. This region is best known for the production of Portuguese table wines. The vines of the Madeira wine region are mainly grown on traditional pergolas. From these pergolas, the bunches hang low where they are shaded from the sun by the leaves. This method produces high yields of grapes that have a high level of acidity. This feature of the grapes is what makes Madeira wines so unique.

One of the most notable winemaking areas within the Madeira winemaking region is the Terras de Avo in Seixal. This area is the only producers of Espumante. Espumante is a Portuguese fizzy, sparking, champagne-like wine. In recent times Espumante has become extremely popular with wine lovers. This Portuguese sparkling wine has flavours of brioche, toast and biscuits.

The wines of Madeira are known for having several different taste profiles. Despite this, most of these wines carry the flavours of sugar, caramel, peaches, walnuts, oranges and hazelnuts. The DOC Madeira is most well-known for its world-famous dessert or fortified wine. These wines are available in various levels of sweetness. The Madeira dessert wines that are considered to be the best, are those that are aged for a relatively short amount of time.

Terraced landscape of Madeira wine region, Portugal

Grape Varieties

Red varieties: Tinta Negro Mole, Bastardo

White varieties: Terrantez, Moscatel, Listrao, Sercial, Verdelho, Boal, Malvasia

How do Madeire Wines Taste?

Wines that are made to suite the palate of all wine lovers and drinkers

Madeira is known for two types of wine styles. The first is blended wines and the second is single varietal wines. The white wines of Madeira can be described as fresh and delicate. These wines are very easy to drink and are perfect when served as an aperitif or when paired with a light, white fish. 

Madeira rose wines are also extremely popular. These wines are very aromatic and have notes of berries and cherries. They can be described as crisp, with a balanced level of acidity.

In Madeira, fortified wine is also produced in certain areas. This wine is produced in a range of styles. There are dry and sweet Madeira fortified wines on offer. The unique taste of the Madeira fortified wines comes from the process of repeatedly heating and cooling the wine. This process results in the wine having flavours of toffee, caramel, nuts and stewed fruits.

Places to Visit in Madeira

Porto Santo – The Golden Island

Porto Santo is an island emerging from the blue waters of the Atlantic Ocean. This picture-perfect island is well known for its stretches of white beaches and turquoise waters. The island is a haven for visitors at any time of the year because of its excellent and warm climate. Besides the beaches, Porto Santo has a number of other attractions for visitors. These include the Infante Gardens, the Christopher Columbus Museum, and the Largo do Pelourinho city square. Porto Santo is the perfect tourist destination with a range of offerings for all visitors.

Porto Santo Beach, Madeira
Prazeres – A Small Town with Big Charm

Prazeres is a small town in Madeira. This small and quaint Portuguese town is located near to Calheta. At first glance, Prazeres might seem unassuming but don’t be fooled! Prazeres has become a bustling Portuguese village with many incredible restaurants and bars. One of the greatest features of Prazeres is that it does not become too hot in the Summer, making it perfect for long scenic walks.

Some of the most popular attractions in Prazeres are the Levada Nova, the Bikulture biking park, the Igreja de Sao Bento and the Jardim das Plantas Indigenas da Madeira. There are many accommodation options with breathtaking views of the sparkling blue ocean. Prazeres provides the perfect escape from the city and should be included on everyone’s Madeira itineraries.

Hidden Gem of Madeira – Travel Into the Sky

Escape the busy tourist regions of Madeira and take a trip to the Achadas da Cruz cable car. A trip on this beautiful cable car brings visitors to the beach of Faja de Quebrado Nova.  Until recently, the Faja de Quebrado Nova beach was only accessible by boat. As a result of this, it is still relatively remote and overlooked by most visitors. Pack a picnic and lose yourself in this incredibly beautiful area. The pebbled beaches, blue waters and spectacular surrounding nature are the perfect place to recharge in nature.

Nature is the best therapy – Discover Natural Beauty of Madeira

The natural beauty of the Madeira region is one of its greatest attractions. The island has an incredibly wide range of fauna and flora. The natural environment of Madeira is so spectacular that is has been classified as a UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site. Visit Madeira and lose yourself in the natural surroundings.

Laurisilva of Madeira

The world’s largest laurel forest

The Laurisilva of Madeira is located within the Madeira National Park. This area is the largest surviving laurel forest making it a very unique site to visit. When visiting the Laurisilva of Madeira, start at the Ribeiro Frio and take an easy stroll along the Levada walk. This walk ends on a natural balcony overlooking the beautiful surrounding forest areas. The Laurisilva of Madeira provides the perfect chance to experience nature untouched by human intervention.

Levada walk – offers spectacular views to laurisilva forest and valley, Madeira, Portugal
Pico Ruivo

Hike the highest point of Madeira

The Pico Ruivo is the highest peak of the mountains of Madeira. This peak is located at 1862m above sea level. A hike to the peak is the perfect activity for nature lovers and for those who enjoy spending time in the outdoors. At Pico Ruivo, there are two different hiking routes. The most popular route is the more challenging hike. This route is not for the faint-hearted but provides incredible views of the surrounding areas. Advanced hikers can enjoy this route which takes approximately 6 hours to finish. The second hiking route is less challenging and takes approximately 3 hours to complete. Grab your water bottle and enjoy the Pico Ruivo adventure.

Madeira Island Gastronomy

The Madeira wine region is not only the perfect wine tourism destination but is also a heaven for food lovers. The local cuisine boasts delicious flavours. These unique tastes have been passed through generations since the time of the local peasants. Visit Madeira and tantalise your taste buds.

Espetada – Mouth-watering skewered meat

Espetada can be considered the official dish of Madeira. This delicious meal is the perfect dish for those who love meat. Espetada is made with chunky cuts of beef that are skewered onto a stick. Before the meat is skewered it is marinated in salt and garlic and additional flavour. The skewered meat is then cooked over a hot fire. When visiting Madeira, you will find Espetada on almost all menus. It is best enjoyed with thick slices of bread and paired with an excellent local red wine.

Bolo de Mel – The cake of the Madeira Islands

Bolo de Mel is a traditional cake from the Madeira region. The locals of Madeira consider Bolo de Mel to be the oldest desert of the region. This delicious cake is made using cinnamon, honey, almonds and walnuts. Traditionally, Bolo de Mel would be eaten at Christmas but not it is enjoyed at any time of the year. A tip when visiting Madeira – when eating your Bolo de Mel, don’t cut the cake, but rather tear off small pieces and eat these by hand.

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Map of Wineries in Madeira wine region

Discover the long wine tradition of Madeira and discover some of the best wineries in this region

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List of Wineries in Madeira wine region

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