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This story originally appeared in the Napa Valley Register. Madeira is an historical island off the coast of Portugal. Its history as a traditional wine-producing region dates to the 15th century. Documents show that it was the wine enjoyed by Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, Benjamin Franklin and John Adams. The Founding Fathers toasted with Madeira during the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776.
The island of Madeira is not large. It is 35 miles long and 14 miles wide with an approximate population of 260,000. There are only a small number of producers on the island, half of which have existed for more than 200 years [Pereira d’Oliveira (1820), Henriques & Henriques (1850), Justinos (1870), HM Borges (1877)]. The other producers are 70-100 years old [Madeira Wine Company (1913), Barbeito (1946), J. Faria & Filhos (1949)].
A volcanic subtropical island with mountainous terrain and an oceanic climate with tropical influences, it is not an easy place to grow grapes. And change is not something typical for the region. But, in 2013, Madeira Vintners, a new Madeira producer, was founded. This is the first new producer on the island since 1946. But what also makes Madeira Vintners all the more unique is that it is the Island’s first all-female team.
This story originally appeared in the Napa Valley Register (October 23, 2015) Tara Gomez fell in love with the aromas of wine the first time she stepped into a winery as a child. Tara Gomez Growing up in the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians, Gomez was raised in the heart of wine country. With a scholarship from her tribe, she studied enology at California State University, Fresno and was one of two women who graduated in 1998. She went to work as an enologist at Fess Parker Winery before moving to Paso Robles to be the enologist and lab manager at J. Lohr Vineyards and Wines for nine years. She then moved to Spain for two years where she learned traditional styles and studied winemaking in the Pyrenees.