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This story originally appeared in the Napa Valley Register.
Last week, I wrote about how Madeira excites the palate, but that many of the tourists that visit Madeira do not even know that Madeira wine is one of the main products produced on the island.
Madeira wine has been produced on the island since the 15th century, and today there are approximately 2000 grape growers but only eight producers on the island. On my recent first trip to Madeira, I visited four of the producers and wanted to share a bit about my visits. When a product is named after the island itself, I think everyone should know about it. Blandy’s Madeira Wine Company
John Blandy founded Blandy’s Madeira Wine in 1811, and in 1840, his son, Charles Ridpath Blandy, purchased The Blandy Wine Lodges in Funchal, the main city in Madeira. Today, the company is run by Michael and Chris Blandy, members of the sixth and seventh generations. Through recent purchases, the Blandy’s own three properties on the island, for a total of seven hectares, producing white grapes only. In addition, they work with 400 growers on the island for a total of 450 hectares.
This story originally appeared in the Napa Valley Register. Fifty-six kilometers (35 miles) long, Madeira is an island outside the mainland of Portugal. With a spring climate year-round and magnificent views of soaring mountains and the ocean everywhere you look, Madeira is a popular destination for the cruise ships.
Daily, hundreds of tourists descend upon the island to explore the town of Funchal including visiting the colorful farmers’ market Mercado dos Lavradores and taking the gondola up to the top of a mountain and racing back down in a basket toboggan.
They also go to the Cabo Girao skywalk, a glass-floored viewing platform that stands 1,900 feet above the Atlantic Ocean. There are gardens, hiking trails and pools and, of course, wonderful restaurants serving freshly caught fish. And they shop for elegant embroidery, a specialty of Madeira.
But, one thing that many tourists do not think to do is drink Madeira, the wine named for the island.
As you get ready to warm up the barbeque and chill down the beer for your 4th of July parties, think about opening a bottle of Madeira to enjoy with your friends. Why Madeira?  Well, did you know that Madeira was a favorite of Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, Benjamin Franklin and John Adams, the founding fathers of the United States?  In fact, when they signed the Declaration of Independence, they toasted with Madeira. What is Madeira?  Madeira is the wine named for an island, and an island named for a wine.  Understanding Madeira is not an easy feat.  The winemaking process, grape varietals and wine styles are not like other wines that you are familiar with.