The first thing that comes to mind at the mention of Madeira is the unique wine famous throughout the world. “The Pearl of the Atlantic”, Madeira, can boast an enjoyable subtropical climate, marvelous sunsets illuminating the deep Atlantic Ocean, sun-drenched beaches, endless vineyards backed by rugged mountains, and savory national cuisine as well. Gastronomy and winemaking are a big part of Portugal’s culture. The history of Madeira’s transformation into the capital of winemaking goes back to the fifteenth century. At that time first vines of European origin were brought to the territory of the islands. 100 years later, wines from this region began to supply almost all vessels heading to the East Indies. The worldwide renowned production of red, white, and rosé beverages resulted in the creation of the Designation of Origin of Madeira at the end of the twentieth century.
The birth of the recipe and the unique savor of Madeira wine happened by accident during aging in barrels on long-distance hot-climate marine travels. The unbearable tropical climate had an unimaginable effect on the drink. Transportation in the holds made it fortified and gave it a special caramel-nutty flavor. Madeira’s golden era began in the 1700s when wine gained worldwide fame. Connoisseurs who lived on the territory of the American colonies consumed up to 95% of the annual wine output of Portuguese Arquipélago da Madeira. Nowadays, artificial heat is used to replicate the result of a long-term marine journey in hot climates and create fortified wine. This process is called the estufagem, which means “hothouse”. However, creating more refined and exquisite wines requires the use of the natural heat of the barrel warehouses through the “canteiro” process.
Top Wine & Dine Tours in Madeira
The food and drinks of Madeira are so unique and inimitable that gastronomic tours have become the peculiar zest of this island. Every year the number of travelers willing to taste the best wines of the region increases. So, if you’re ready to immerse yourself in an atmosphere of bliss and delight yourself with a riot of traditional Portuguese tastes and aromas, then check out this list of the best wine and dine cruises and gastronomic land tours in Madeira:
What better way to experience the island lifestyle than by seeking out seaside culinary adventures into the blue waters of the Atlantic aboard a private boat under the guidance of two experienced guides? Maria João and Marco, sailing enthusiasts and winemakers producers of Terra Bona wines, are professionals in their field. They will not only tell you about all the intricacies of creating their unique drinks, but will also give you a tour of how to drive a yacht, talk about driving techniques, and share little tricks. During the trip, you will be invited to taste a collection of wines and some homemade snacks. The itinerary starts from Funchal and runs to the Lido Area and Cabo Girão. The romantic atmosphere will make you forget about everything to capture unforgettable moments. The duration of a private cruise is 3 hours, the price starts from $375.
Exploring Vineyards and Restaurants Behind the Wheel
Nothing gives you the freedom to travel independently behind the wheel of a comfortable car. Explore the most spectacular sites and high mountain vineyards with car rental in Funchal! Despite the steep bends commonly found in the highlands, driving in Madeira is comfy even for an inexperienced driver due to excellent roads and simple navigation. Car rental in Madeira will allow you to enjoy the masterpieces of the renowned chefs in numerous restaurants. You can also visit famous wineries, such as Quinta do Barbusano in São Vicente, Blandy’s Wine Lodge in Funchal or D’Oliveira in Borges. Most vineyards are open all year round offering wine tasting and acquaintance with the process of wine production including vinification and bottling. With Funchal car hire, you can easily get to Michelin-star restaurants or venues with traditional dishes that will delight even the most whimsical gourmets. Visit the Uva restaurant located on the rooftop of La Vie shopping Mall to enjoy a stunning panoramic view overlooking Funchal city and the Atlantic. Do not miss the chance to sit at the chef’s table to watch the preparation of exquisite meals at Kampo and try one of the best espetada and Bolo do Caco with garlic butter at Santo Antonio restaurant.
If you are looking for a great way to hang out with friends, then you will appreciate the offer to join one of the best gourmet boat tours in Madeira aboard the 10-meter Boat Dufour 365 Grand. During the whole journey, you will be accompanied by two crew members and the private chef Filipe Janeiro. The boat possesses three bedrooms with a double bed and one single in the living room and can host up to 6 travelers. The chef will offer guests four dishes made from the most painstakingly sourced ingredients. The cuisine master will do his best to give an exclusive gastronomic experience. An exclusive 5-hour dining tour with a private chef will cost you $975.
Land & Sea Adventure Tasting Tour
For those who prefer a full-bodied pastime rich in sensations, Madeira offers a combined land & sea day tour. First, you’ll travel by 4WD jeep to the north of the archipelago’s main island. There you will taste the wonderful collection of wines from a winery located in São Vicente. After the Madeira wine tasting and learning more about enology, you will be invited to move to the Girao Cape for a spectacular vista of the Atlantic. In the warm season, you can swim below Cabo Girão cliff. In the afternoon it’s time to conquer the waves of the ocean in search of dolphins and chill. The price for a full-day tour starts from $101 per adult.
Do not miss the opportunity to see the sunset of the magnificent Sea of Atlas in all its glory. The luxury private sunset cruise from Funchal will let you admire Cape Girao, Camara De Lobos, and Jardins do Lido. During this three-hour boat trip, you will hear some fascinating stories about the secret places you will pass. And of course, all this will be accompanied by exquisite Portuguese wine and local delicacies. Remarkable nautical dining experiences of Lusitania are guaranteed! Such a private tour will cost you $330 (for up to 10 persons).