The Old Blandy Wine Lodge: Madeira wine tasting

Perhaps the most popular export of Madeira is its dessert wine that carries the same name. So it seemed only natural to seek out its origins when I was on vacation in Madeira recently. And of course, continue the tradition of exporting it.

Blandys Wine Lodge, Funchal, Madeira

Blandys Wine Lodge in Funchal, Madeira

Many visitors to Madeira will stay in Funchal, the island’s capital. Madeira seems quite underdeveloped for tourism in the sense that it caters to daytrippers from cruise ships that stop over en route to the canaries or the coast of west Africa. There are no big resorts to be found, but many small bed and breakfasts, boutique hotels, and design places, most of which are in or around Funchal.

While staying in a city may not seem the natural thing to do on an island holiday, it is actually not a problem as the city feels quite small even though it counts over 100,000 inhabitants, and it is quick and easy to get out into the mountains or other places of interest. But more importantly, it is full of things to discover in itself.

The Old Blandy Wine Lodge

Right in the middle of Funchal is the Old Blandy Wine Lodge. It dates back to the 1840s when Charles Blandy bought the annex part of the monastery complex and converted it into a winery.

Nowadays the wines are produced outside the lodge, but the Old Blandy Wine Lodge continues to store all the premium wines as they age naturally. There are two things you can do: take a tour and learn all about the history of the winery and how Madeira wine is produced, and of course, a wine tasting.

You can taste the wine either in the main tasting room or in the old vintage tasting room, where hundreds of bottles of Madeira wine line the shelves around the room. Some date back as far as 1908!

Vintage Room at Blandys Wine Lodge

Vintage Room at Blandys Wine Lodge, Funchal, Madeira

Types of Madeira wine

Madeira wines come in four different varieties and are named after the grape from which they are made: Sercial (dry), Verdelho (medium dry), Bual (medium rich/sweet) and Malmsey (rich/sweet).

Blandys Madeira wine

Blandys Madeira wine, Blandys Wine Lodge, Funchal

It is fairly safe to say that there is a Madeira wine for everyone due to the varying degrees of sweetness and dryness. All you have to do is walk up to the counter and select the age of the Madeira wines you would like to try: 3, 5, 10 or 20 years. Prices are very affordable regardless of the age you choose. And given the very nice ambiente in the Max Romer tasting room it’s not only your taste buds that will have a great experience! Take a look around by clicking on the 360 degree panoramic photo below:


What’s the best wine lodge you’ve been to? Is wine tasting something you do while on vacation?

Christina Hegele

About the author: Christina Hegele runs Sandal Road, a blog on her favourite destinations. It just so happened that 95% turned out to be about New Zealand. Follow Christina and her blog on Twitter, like her blog on Facebook, and subscribe to her Youtube channel. Alternatively, subscribe to her email newsletter at the top right of this blog.

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  17 comments for “The Old Blandy Wine Lodge: Madeira wine tasting

  1. 8 June, 2012 at 11:16

    LOL “95% turned out to be about New Zealand”. That reminds me I need to write more about NZ! I’ve heard so many good things about Madeira, gotta get there for the hiking… and now the wine tasting!

    • Christina
      8 June, 2012 at 12:30

      Please do write more about NZ, you can already count me among your readers. Madeira is really good for hiking. Best part: when you stand on the higher mountains, you can see the coast and ocean in the north and the south!

  2. 8 June, 2012 at 15:29

    I would never think of a tasting flight of Madeira -don’t know why. I love including wine tastings on my travels so I’d be sure to do the same thing here. Too bad it’s so far away to visot.

    • Christina
      9 June, 2012 at 10:39

      It was only a 3 hour flight for us, and a very last minute decision to go there – we originally wanted to go to the Azores! The latter have to wait, and we’re glad we went to Madeira, and totally unprepared, which made it even better for discovering. Loved stumbling upon that winery that was a 200m walk from our hotel!

  3. 8 June, 2012 at 17:45

    I have heard of madeira wine before but didn’t know a lot of details. This looks like a fun way discover more of the island past (and pride).

    • Christina
      9 June, 2012 at 10:41

      A fun and tasty way indeed! Hope you can try it where you are. It is delicious as a dessert wine (the sweet varieties)

  4. 10 June, 2012 at 05:53

    One of my favorite travel and leisure activities — wine tasting! Would love to explore Madeira’s wineries. Your photos are very inviting.

    • Christina
      26 June, 2012 at 22:40

      I love wine and beer tastings when travelling. You should visit Bamberg and do the beer diploma if you like beer – sampling beer from 12 different breweries 🙂

  5. 10 June, 2012 at 16:01

    Sounds like you had a great time! Wine tasting in different countries is an interesting way to experience a culture.

    • Christina
      26 June, 2012 at 22:41

      That’s right – they’re really proud of their wine, and it was great having a chat to locals while sipping on a glass of Madeira wine!

  6. 11 June, 2012 at 12:12

    You learn something every day _ I had no idea there was any such thing as dry Madeira wine. It makes it a lot more interesting to these tastebuds!

    • Christina
      26 June, 2012 at 22:42

      I personally prefer the medium sweet variety, but if I had to have a dry one I wouldn’t say no either 🙂

  7. 8 July, 2012 at 03:23

    Fantastic post. I’m all about cultural experiences and touring an old rustic winery, learning how wine is made, its origin and culture behind it would be quite the experience. Thanks for introducing me to Madeira!

    • Christina
      13 August, 2012 at 12:45

      Thanks Cristina! The winery tour is something I stumbled upon around the corner from my hotel, so it was a nice surprise and a great way to start the afternoon… 🙂 Madeira is beautiful, it has so much to offer.

  8. 7 August, 2012 at 04:20

    Ahh I LOVE dessert wine, even if it does get me fairly tipsy after just one glass. Madeira sounds like a magical little place, although I had no idea that the tourism scene there is so under-developed in terms of not having big resorts. That’s a good thing in my book, but I’d always assumed it would be choc full of massive resorts rather than cute little B&Bs and guesthouses as you mention here.

    Also, I think it’s safe to say that the alcohol content of my blood just went up from looking at that photo of the wine cellar.

    • Christina
      13 August, 2012 at 12:48

      Haha, Tom, glad the Madeira wine made an impression on you 😉 Yup, I was quite surprised about Madeira myself, starting from the booking process. The lack of flights and packages in general made me curious, and our suspicion was confirmed once we arrived – it’s less touristy than the Canary Islands, and less serviced by flights and tour operators. Makes for a great island to be on in the Atlantic!

  9. Tony
    13 May, 2016 at 18:41

    Hi Christina. Just stumbled across your blog and loved your comments on Madeira (the Island; the wine is good too!) My parents were born in Madeira and I have been there six times to visit my aunts, uncles and hundreds of cousins! I aim to visit again as my mother has property there and now lives there permanently (in Machico).
    Yes, I love wine and taste the local wine wherever I go. Every now and then I get sent a bottle or two of Madeira wine 🙂 It’s great to see you promoting Madeira’s finest export!

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