Wine Culture

In the mid sixteenth century, the famous English playwright William Shakespeare cites the important export and notoriety of the Malvasia wine, drowning the Duke of Clarence, brother of King Edward IV of England, in a barrel of this wine.

With the decline of sugar production in the late sixteenth century, sugar plantations were replaced by vineyards, originating in the so-called ‘Wine Culture’, which acquired international fame and provided the rise of a new social class, the Bourgeoisie.

With the increase of commercial treaties with England, important English merchants settled on the Island and, ultimately, controlled the increasingly important island wine trade. The English traders settled in the Funchal as of the seventeenth century, consolidating the markets from North America, the West Indies and England itself. In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the structure of the “wine city prevailed over the sugar city”.

The various governors of Madeira and even the convents of Funchal eventually entered the wine trade.

During the nineteenth century, two serious pests (Oidium and Phylloxera) attacked Madeira vines, causing losses. In order to try and hold the international wine market of Madeira, they tried planting more resistant varieties, although of lower quality.

The characteristic spaces for manufacturing, aging and storage of wine, which once proliferated, may still be found in some wineries. The memory of objects and contexts related to the wine sector is presented to us in institutions such as the Instituto do Vinho da Madeira, H.M. Borges and the Madeira Wine Company.
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