When Rich said he fancied visiting a Madeiran winery, I found us a tour of Blandy’s Wine Lodge which is located in Madeira’s capital, Funchal. We took our three kids and spent a few hours touring the lodge and learning about wine and its history on the island. If you’re thinking of visiting with your kids, don’t worry, there’s a lot for them to see and read and keep them entertained with.
Blandy’s Wine Lodge
When you think of visiting a wine lodge, all sorts of images are conjured into the mind and I had visions of rolling countryside, green flourishing vines and a few glasses of wine in the afternoon sun. Washed down with a few olives, some bread to dip in olive oil and the gentle lull of cicadas to polish it all off….
But no, Blandy’s is a narrow, dark & dank, fragrant smelling building with sloping, wooden floors and beams to match in the centre of Funchal city. It was not what I was expecting but it was fun none-the-less.
How to Book Tickets
We signed up for a premium visit at a cost of €5.90 each using a Madeiran company (not directly with Blandy’s) and paid for all five of us. However we later discovered that children’s entrance was FREE. No refund was given. GRRrr.
Here’s how you can book tickets:
- Book online and well in advance as they’re slow to respond. (http://www.blandyswinelodge.com/book-your-tour-today.html)
- Turn up at Blandy’s and purchase tickets on the day. Tours are given in English and there are roughly four tours a day and they last forty-five minutes.
The tour covers:
- the making of barrels at the Cooperage
- ageing of the wine in the Canteiro
- the transformation of grapes into Madeira wine
- a tour of the museum
- a tasting
Looking through The Expensive Bar at Blandy’s Wine Lodge
Once you’ve shown your ticket you’re free to have a look around the rather expensive bar whilst waiting for your tour to congregate in the central courtyard. This is where all the oldest and best wines, some of which cost up to €650 are kept. 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 Lodge: Meeting up in the Central Courtyard
Meeting up for the tour takes place in the central courtyard which also links to the ticket booth, a shop with old and expensive wines, a gift shop and a bar. I am not a massive wine drinker although I could be tempted if rolling views and sunshine are included so I guess my heart wasn’t really in this tour and I was merely present to keep Rich company.
From the courtyard you can see many old items that were once used in the fabrication of wine at Blandy’s.
Cooperage: the making of barrels and casks
The Vine to Wine Area
Satinwood Vats at Blandy’s Wine Lodge
We were given two tastings of a fortified wine. One sweet and the other dry. Both were putrid, in my opinion, but others seemed to enjoy them.
We were given a 10% discount (only valid for that day) to purchase wine up to 15 years old however we chose not to.
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Whate else could you get up to on Madeira Island?