The Azores

The Azores, located in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, are an archipelago made up of nine volcanic islands, each with its own personality and unique attractions. With lush green landscapes, impressive mountains, fertile valleys, shimmering lakes, and dark sand beaches, it’s a true paradise for nature lovers.
In addition to their natural landscapes, the islands are also rich in history and culture, with a strong Portuguese influence as well as traces of other cultures that have shaped the region over the centuries. Azorean cuisine is another must-see attraction, with delicious fresh fish and seafood dishes, as well as famous local cheeses and award-winning wines.
The Azores are a tourist destination still undiscovered by many but offering authentic experiences, immersion in nature, and tranquility. With a variety of outdoor activities such as hiking, diving, and whale and dolphin watching, visitors have the opportunity to explore the islands and discover their natural and cultural wonders. It’s a place where time seems to slow down and where natural beauty is preserved and valued.

Wine in the Azores

Throughout the 12th century, Europeans, particularly the Portuguese under the rule of D. Diniz (1279–1325) and D. Afonso IV (1325–1357), made maritime voyages that brought the first information about the Azores archipelago. It was during the period of Pedro de Portugal, 1st Duke of Coimbra (1392-1449), as regent during the minority of Afonso V of Portugal, that there was a great impulse in the settlement of the archipelago, following an express determination in the royal charter of July 2, 1439, to Gonçalo Velho Cabral.
It is not difficult to imagine that the first settlers brought with them vines, as wine has always played a crucial role in Portuguese culture. In fact, it was considered a basic necessity, and to this day, vine culture is one of the most important in the Azorean archipelago.
The island of Pico is the main representative of viticulture in the Azores, especially due to the worldwide renown that verdelho wine, produced from the grape variety of the same name, has obtained over the centuries. From the 19th century on, new grape varieties were introduced that gave rise to red and white table wines.
Due to the roughness of the volcanic terrain, which is practically devoid of topsoil, vine cultivation is done in enclosures. During the 18th century and until the first quarter of the 19th century, Pico experienced a golden period of economic activity, producing more than 50,000 pipes of verdelho that were exported to Russia, Brazil, England, and other countries, as well as to the mainland, where they supplied boats and fleets that made stops here.
In July 2004, UNESCO declared the Protected Landscape of Regional Interest of the Vine Culture of Pico Island (created in 1996) as a World Heritage Site, proving its local and global importance. Enclosures, maroiços (stone piles in the shape of pyramids), vineyards, and cellars with their equipment are emblematic elements of vine and wine.
On the islands of Terceira, Graciosa, and Pico, there are three demarcated regions for wine production, which market about two dozen officially recognized brands of table, fortified, and regional wines. Vine culture still maintains its relevance in the islands today, being one of the most important economic activities of the archipelago.

Cultural relevance of wine

The Regional Government of the Azores values the wine culture in the region, having created the Wine Museum in Vila da Madalena, on the island of Pico, as part of the Regional Museum. The museum is located in the Carmelite Convent House and presents relevant cultural aspects related to wine production on the island. Produced from the Verdelho grape, Pico wine was exported to countries such as Russia, Brazil, and England, becoming known as the wine of the Czars. The wine of Biscoitos, produced in the 16th century, was known as the wine of the Caravels of the route of the Indies and Spices.
For a long time, Verdelho wine was a fundamental product for the supply of the fleets. On Terceira Island, particularly in the parish of S. Pedro do Porto da Cruz, where Pero Enes do Canto lived, later named Provedor das Armadas, wine production was highly valued. However, in 1853, the vine began to be attacked by a cryptogamic disease known as “burril,” which led to a sharp drop in wine production on Terceira Island and the other islands. Unfortunately, in 1870, a new plague, the Phylloxera vastatrix aphid, destroyed even more vineyards. In 1890, Francisco Maria Brum founded the first regional winery of the time, which was successful and saw wine production increase significantly. In 1901, three pots of Verdelho wine were produced, and the following year, a barrel. In 1903, production grew to 6 and a half barrels, and the following year, to 11 barrels.
Verdelho wine is highly valued in the Biscoitos region on Terceira Island and is available in different varieties, including table, regional, and liqueur (IPR). Currently, the liqueur Verdelho of Biscoitos is particularly prestigious at official receptions, including “Biscoitos de Honra” and national events. The quality of table wines improved significantly in 1993, when the Decree-Law created the Vitivinicultural Zones of Biscoitos, Graciosa, and Pico to protect traditional grape varieties and encourage the quality of white wines.
The Biscoitos region was designated as the production area for quality liqueur wine produced in a determined region (VLQPRD), together with the Pico region. The category of Regional Wine of the Azores was created in 2005, and the Wine Museum, created in 1990 by Casa Agrícola Brum, plays a fundamental role in promoting regional viticulture history and culture, as well as wine tourism.
In 1993, the Confraria do Vinho Verdelho dos Biscoitos was founded at the Wine Museum, aiming to protect, promote, value, and disseminate the Verdelho wine of Biscoitos and quality wine from the Azores. Casa Agrícola Brum and the Vitivinicultural Cooperative of Pico Island received IPR certification in November 1996, with the brands Brum and Lajido, respectively. The Graciosa Cooperative Winery was also certified in June of the same year with the Pedras Brancas brand, becoming the first VQPRD of the Azores.
The island of Graciosa was colonized in the 15th century by Vasco Gil Sodré and since then has been dedicated to agriculture and vineyards, exporting wheat, barley, wine, and brandy in the 16th century. Wine was an important source of economic wealth, with the island producing 6,000 pipas of wine in 1836. In 1938, about one-third of the cultivated area was dedicated to the cultivation of vineyards, with a particular emphasis on Verdelho.

Subscribe newsletter

Receive news from Gorgeous