Discovering Madeira: Blandy’s Wine Lodge & Visiting With Kids

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

Inside Blandy’s Wine Lodge

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:

  1. Book online and well in advance as they’re slow to respond. (http://www.blandyswinelodge.com/book-your-tour-today.html)
  2. 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:

  1. the making of barrels at the Cooperage
  2. ageing of the wine in the Canteiro
  3. the transformation of grapes into Madeira wine
  4. a tour of the museum
  5. a tasting
Blandy's Wine Lodge

The central courtyard with the ticket kiosk to the right.



Booking.com

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!

The expensive wine bar at Blandy's Wine Lodge

The expensive shop where the wines are locked up.

Blandy's Wine Lodge

Looking down the cabinets of wine at Blandy’s Wine Lodge

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.

Blandy's wine

The courtyard

Blandy's wine

Interesting artifact in the courtyard

Blandy's Wine Lodge

An old wine press at Blandy’s wine lodge. From memory it might be 14th century.

Cooperage: the making of barrels and casks

Barrels are no longer made at Blandy’s because they now repair the old ones.
The cooperage 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.
Our kids weren’t particularly interested in reading the signs but there was a lot of paraphernalia they could look at and even touch.
Blandy's wine lodge

Cooperage area at Blandy’s wine

Blandy's wine lodge

Cooperage signs and artifact

Blandy's wine

Signs detailing barrel making

Blandy's wine lodge

Blandy’s wine lodge

Canteiro Lodge

We were led into the lodge area through a huge door in a barrel which is quite funky and made me smile. If nothing else Blandy’s is very photogenic.
The Canteiro Lodge is where the barrels containing wine are left to age.  Each barrel has a sticker on it detailing when it is to be opened.
Blandy's wine lodge

Entrance to Canteiro at Blandy’s wine

Blandy's wine

Barrels ageing

Blandy's wine

Barrels ageing at Blandy’s wine lodge

Blandy's wine

Blandy’s wine lodge

Blandy's wine

The barrels ageing at Blandy’s wine lodge

The Vine to Wine Area

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.

Blandy's wine

Different types of grape used.

Satinwood Vats at Blandy’s Wine Lodge

These ENORMOUS vats are roughly 2m high, much taller than I am and the wine sits in these vats for a minimum period of 4 years.
You can really smell the wine as you’re walking through but it’s not the fruity smell you’ expect. It’s much more musty and dank than I thought it would be.
Blandy's wine

Satinwood vats

Blandy's wine

Our tour guide

The 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.
What we especially liked was being able to touch some of them and learn about how to use them. The oldest and most precious are kept in glass cases but there’s a lot more hands on than I thought there would be and our kids really appreciated learning through touching.
Blandy's wine

17th century wine press

Blandy's wine lodge

Learning about cogs and manual pressing

Blandy's wine lodge

Original thermometers

The Tasting

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.

Having a wine testing at Blandy's wine lodge

Richard in the bar room, not enjoying his tastings.

Join Jacks flight club

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Blandy's wine lodge in Madeira

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