From the time of Da Gama to the age of the steamship, Madeira served as a supply and fuel stop for countless sea voyages. Madeira’s location along the trade routes to Africa and the Americas made it a strategic port for provisioning the new colonies, and the colonists in these new territories were a thirsty bunch. The export of wine quickly grew to 30,000 barrels annually.
In 1665 Charles II prohibited the shipping of European goods to the West Indies and America unless these goods were being shipped with British ships and from British ports. Madeira was intentionally left out of this decree because it meant more tax income for the king.
Now, the new American colonies became a favorite trading partner for this wine. General Washington was a great friend of this wine; it is said that he drank a pint of it daily. His inauguration as president of the United States and the appointment of the city of Washington as the capital were celebrated with Madeira. So, it’s no surprise that the Americans celebrated their Declaration of Independence with a glass of Madeira. The legendary frigate Constitution, the oldest ship in the world that is still afloat, was also baptized with Madeira wine. Together with its special sandwich live oak planking construction this Madeira wine treatment might have contributed to the invulnerability of “Old Ironsides”.
As a remembrance of this event, the Madeira vintage of 1802 has been named Constitution as well. While the European market remained unstable, the US remained a solid importer of Madeira wines. Jefferson was an early advocate of the link between wine and longevity — “Wine from habit has become an indispensable for my health,” he maintained — and was perhaps America’s most devoted early collector. He adored Madeira and was no stranger to Sauternes. (A few of his bottles are still kicking around today, wildly expensive refugees from his legendary cellar).
Until the twentieth century, Madeira played an important part in the social life of the upper class. It was especially favored in cities such as Baltimore, Boston, Charleston, Philadelphia, New York and Savannah where they celebrated with so-called ‘Madeira-parties’. At these events, you drank several vintages of Madeira to a light meal like terrapin-soup. In Silas Weir Mitchell’s famous book “A Madeira Party” the reader will find a very detailed and slightly ironic picture of such an event. Visitors of Savannah today can do a “Madeira Tour” at the Davenport House and there still is a “Madeira Club” in Savannah
Much to the delight of the colonists, the wine did not suffer from the long ocean voyage. In fact, the heating and sloshing in the barrel improved the wine, and soon a trans-Atlantic voyage became part of the elaboration process for all Madeira wines. This practice continued well past the age of the sailing ship. In the early 20th century casks of Madeira were floated back and forth across the ocean in the holds of steamships that also docked in Funchal harbor in Madeira to load coal.
Savoy Signature to open a new hotel for millennials in Funchal in 2020
NEXT is Savoy Signature’s 6th hotel unit on Madeira, housed in the former building of the Madeira Regency Club in Funchal. The new hotel will have 166 rooms and suites and the concept targets the digital generation. Space is designed to attract a younger demographic to Madeira by combining modern décor and amenities with Savoy’s sophistication. NEXT hotel will have beach access, indoor and infinity pools, rooftop bar, spa, and wellness center and a 24-hour gym. Location wise, NEXT also keeps the millennials in mind, being close to the city center and nightlife, as well as only 30 minutes away from the airport.
Pestana Hotel Group will open 10 hotels in 2020 – one on Madeira
Following the opening of Pestana Churchill Bay in Câmara de Lobos last summer, the hotel group is said to be planning another hotel in the same fishing town in 2020. Although no further details are known yet, Pestana Group announced an investment in 10 new hotel units next year and mention “reinforcement” of the operation on Madeira.
Vila Baleira Hotels & Resorts to open a new hotel in Funchal next year
The group acquired the former hotel The Lince Madeira Lido Atlântico which will be transformed into the new Vila Baleira Hotel in Funchal. The new unit is set to open in April 2020, the same year the group’s hotel Vila Baleira Resort Porto Santo celebrates 20 years. The anniversary will also be marked with works to improve this unit.
Did you know?
In 2020 Madeira will be a “guest of honor” at the biggest conference promoting Portugal in Europe
Portugal, the biggest Portuguese tourism and real estate conference in Europe, is taking place in Paris next year and Madeira will be the centerpiece of the exhibition. The event presents current trends regarding tourism and real estate in Portugal and Madeira will be highlighted for its unique culture, cuisine, landscapes and pleasant climate, which makes it the best island destination in Europe.
Madeira is the number 1 New Year’s destination according to European Best Destinations
The travel website European Best Destinations has named Madeira the top New Year’s destination among fifteen other cities in Europe. The publication highlights the island’s “magnificent scenery”, “rare beauty” and the “famous fireworks show”. The lights spectacle takes place above the water and usually lasts between 8 and 10 minutes, having once made the Guinness Record Book.
New York Jewish Travel Guide