Discovering Madeira: Blandy’s Wine Lodge

Discovering Madeira: Blandy’s Wine Lodge

In the spirit of.. bonhomie and all that… I ditched my boycott of tours when Rich said he fancied visiting a Madeiran winery.  We went in search of Blandy’s Wine Lodge in Funchal.

Blandy's wine
Blandy’s Wine Lodge

I was a little disappointed to discover this wine lodge is in the centre of Funchal city. I had visions of rolling countryside, green flourishing vines and a few glasses of wine in the afternoon sun. Maybe a few olives and the gentle lull of cicadas to polish it all off….

But no, Blandy’s is a dark, fragrant smelling building with sloping, wooden floors and beams to match.

Tickets

We signed up for a premium visit at a cost of €5.90 each.  I pre-purcashed online using a Madeiran company and paid for all five of us. However we later discovered that children’s entrance was FREE. No refund was given.

You can also just turn up at Blandy’s and purchase tickets on the day.

Tours are in English, about four times a day and they last forty-five minutes.
Blandy's wine
The central courtyard with the ticket kiosk to the right.

The tour covers the making of barrels at the Cooperage, ageing in the Canteiro, the transformation of grapes into Madeira wine, and a tour of the museum with unique items from madeira wine history, followed by a tasting.

Central courtyard

Meeting up for the tour in the central courtyard which also links to the ticket booth, a shop with old and expensive wines, a gift shop and a bar. Here you can see many old items that were once used in the fabrication of wine.

Blandy's wine
The courtyard
Blandy's wine
Interesting artifact in the courtyard
Blandy's wine
An old wine press at Blandy’s wine lodge. From memory it might be 14th century.

The expensive bar

The expensive bar houses all the oldest and best wines, some of which cost up to €650. They are all locked away but you can look around and see which years produced the best grapes.

If nothing else, it provided a good maths lesson for the kids!

Blandy's wine
The expensive shop where the wines are locked up.
Blandy's wine
Looking down the cabinets of wine.

Cooperage

Barrels are no longer made at Blandy’s because they now repair the old ones.
This area depicts through signs and the showing of old barrels and equipment how the barrels were once made.
There wasn’t really time to read all of the signs but I managed to grab these photos.
Blandy's wine
Cooperage area at Blandy’s wine
Blandy's wine
Cooperage signs and artifact
Blandy's wine
Signs detailing barrel making

Canteiro Lodge

We were led into the lodge area which is where the barrels containing wine are left to age.
Each barrel has a sticker on it detailing when i is to be opened.
Blandy's wine
Entrance to Canteiro at Blandy’s wine
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Barrels ageing
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Barrels ageing at Blandy’s wine lodge
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Blandy’s wine lodge
Blandy's wine
The barrels ageing at Blandy’s wine lodge

Vine to Wine

This is where you’ll learn about the techniques used by Blandy’s to create their wine. Sadly, no tips you could steal but interesting to know that they use exactly the same grapes for all their wines and that by differing the fermentation process, they create different wines.
Blandy's wine
Signs explaining the ageing process at Blandy’s wine lodge
Blandy's wine
Explanation of techniques used to ferment wine.
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Different types of grape used.

Satinwood Vats

The wine in here sits for a minimum period of 4 years.
Blandy's wine
Satinwood vats
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Our tour guide

Museum

The tour of the museum for me was the most interesting part of the tour.  You’re able to see unique items from Madeira’s wine history. Some of which date back over 300 years.
Blandy's wine
17th century wine press
Blandy's wine
Learning about cogs and manual pressing
Blandy's wine
Original thermometers

Tasting

We were given two tastings of a fortified wine. One sweet and the other dry. Both were putrid, in my opinion.

We were given a 10% discount (only valid for that day) to purchase wine up to 15 years old however we chose not to.

Blandy's wine
Richard in the bar room, not enjoying his tastings.

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