History of the Madeira Wine Company

The Madeira Wine Company, S.A. was originally an association of a number of Madeira wine producing companies, who decided to join forces in order to strengthen their purchasing and wine making abilities. This Association was founded in 1913. During the inter-war years the old family firms of Blandy’s and Leacock joined, followed immediately post war by Miles and Cossart Gordon, thereby creating the largest producer and exporter of Madeira wine. Whatever the size, the maintaining of the unique characteristics and style of each individual firm was at the chore of the association. By the late 1970’s the interests in the Madeira Wine Company as it became known, were reduced to just a handful of the original families with the Blandy family holding the controlling share. In 1989 the Blandy family, needing to strengthen the sales and marketing side of the business, invited the Symington Port shipping family from Oporto, Portugal to join them in partnership. This partnership has continued to the present day, enabling the Madeira Wine Company to play a leading role in the development of the Madeira wine trade.

In 2011 the Blandy and Symington family of Oporto signed an agreement that gave the Blandy family control of the Madeira Wine Company (MWC). Symington Family Estates will continue to be a shareholder in the MWC, although a minority one, and will continue to distribute Blandy’s Madeira and other MWC brands through their associated companies, John E Fells in the UK, Premium Port Wines in the US and Portfolio in Portugal.
Blandy’s Madeira is a 200 year old family owned business with a long tradition in fine wine making. John Blandy - the founder of Blandy’s Madeira – established himself on the island of Madeira in 1811 and the family has since then been directly involved in the production of Madeira Wine. In 1925 Blandy's decided to join the Madeira Wine Association; a group of wine companies formed together to maximize global exposure and minimize overheads in a world where the export market was experiencing an all time low. In 1989, in order to further expand the global market, the Blandy’s approached another Anglo-Portuguese family – the Symington’s of Oporto (Port producers for 4 generations and over 100 years) – and offered them a partnership with the purpose of strengthening the sales and marketing aspects of the business. The Symington’s joined in 1989 and since then the company has been jointly managed by the 2 families. In the later years, both the winemaker and company have been respectively awarded Fortified Winemaker of the Year (IWC) for 3 consecutive years (2006 – 2008) and Portuguese Producer of the Year (IWSC) for two years running (2009 – 2010).

In 2011 Blandy's Madeira celebrated its bicentenary with several international events, and on the 1st of August, the Blandy and Symington family of Oporto signed an agreement that gave the Blandy family control of the Madeira Wine Company (MWC). Symington Family Estates will continue to be a shareholder in the MWC, although a minority one.

Cossart Gordon, the oldest established Madeira Wine company, was founded in 1745 by William Gordon and Francis Newton. In 1808 William Cossart an Irishman of Huguenot descent joined the firm that later came to be known by its present name. Cossart Gordon & Co. prospered, trading with the American colonies where the company acquired an unequalled reputation as suppliers of the finest Madeira’s. The colonies in North America were at the time the largest and most discerning market, so much so that the best production was known as “American Madeira”. Cossart Gordon also opened their own office in Britain to look after the important British trade, maintaining this presence until the late 1980´s. As a result of the fine reputation gained over two and a half centuries, the firm today enjoys an unrivalled reputation as one of the finest producers of Madeira Wine, in particular for its fine Bual wines.

The Leacock’s first arrived on the lush green sub-tropical Island of Madeira in 1741. It was Thomas Slapp Leacock whose tenacity in identifying and treating the phylloxera wine disease at his renowned St. John vineyard saved the islands traditional grape varieties. He was amongst the first in Europe to realise that the American rootstock was resistant to the disease. He later bequeathed his outstanding research to Cambridge University in Britain. As a result of this work Leacock´s now world famous Madeira is branded “Leacock´s St. John”, one the most sought after and well know Madeira wines available in the world.

Michael and Chris Blandy

The firm that was eventually to become Miles Madeira was originally known as Rutherford & Grant, established on the Island in 1814. In 1878, James Price, surviving partner of the firm, was no newcomer to the company for, in 1863 when only 12 years old, he had been apprentice to Rutherford & Grant, having acquired sound knowledge and experience of the working of the Madeira Trade. His sons and grandsons followed him in the business, and Miles Madeira became one of the most respected brands of the island’s wine.

Today Michael and Chris Blandy, members of the 6th and 7th generations, continue to work in the company, which is today run by Chris, and is the world’s leading producer of premium quality Madeira wine.

Madeira Wine Company
  • Plataforma 3, Pavilhão T
    Zona Franca Industrial da Madeira
    9200-047 Caniçal
    Madeira – Portugal

    Tel.: (+351) 291740 100

    e: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 
    w: www.madeirawinecompany.com

Madeira Wine Company
2017© Madeira Wine Company S.A.
Blandy's Wine Lodge
  • Avenida Arriaga 28,
    9000-064 Funchal,
    Madeira – Portugal


    Tel.: (+351) 291 228 978

    e: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
    w: www.blandyswinelodge.com