Six centuries on, travelers are increasingly exploring the vineyards of the Azores, especially Pico Island (the archipelago’s second largest) with a landscape so intricate and unusual UNESCO declared it a World Heritage site.
Five-foot-tall stone walls delineate grape plots (currais) roughly the size of tennis courts. “You drill a hole in the volcanic crust to plant the grapes,” explains Azores wine guru Joaquim Coutinho Costa. “We call it volcano wine.”
Along Pico’s Azores Adeliaçor, a burgeoning wine loop to and from the town of Madalena, tourists enjoy low-key encounters — Napa Valley circa 50 years ago — at spots like Adega da Buraca, with a tasting room and demos of traditional wicker and wool crafts.
During September’s Pico harvest festival (Festas da Vindim), visitors join grape pickers in the fields, and October 25-27, a food fest pairs Azores wines with local cheese, fish, and meats.
This piece, written by Joe Yogerst, appeared in the August/September 2013 issue of Traveler magazine.