The Azores thus became a very interesting region, for it consisted of virgin land, and the settlement initiated in the 15th century involved the creation of vineyards, overcoming climatic and geographic difficulties, while filling the territory with artistic elements.
We suggest you to go around the island with this theme in mind, visiting places, observing artistic elements, understanding stains of landscape, experiencing flavours.
Located in the north of the island, the parish of Biscoitos borrows its name [Biscuits] from a particular kind of soil, black and easily cracked, which results from lava and volcanic scoriae.
After the Portuguese settled the Azores, in the 15th century, these areas, which presented obstacles for other purposes, slowly started being reconfigured so as to allow the cultivation of vineyards, and the land was no longer useless.
The “curraletas”, laboriously built with thin walls and trails designed and located so as not to damage the cultivation but to ensure the passage, cover an approximately 400-acre stretch which is now included in the areas under the responsibility of the Terceira’s Natural Park, where they coexist with natural ecosystems and habitats.
There is a pedestrian trail, which allows you to walk through the Protected Landscape of Vinha dos Biscoitos. Download available.
The Verdelho grape variety and more
Because of its climate and latitude, the Azores region is mostly favourable to white wine vines. Many grape varieties were early introduced, and an account by the great historian Gaspar Frutuoso which dates back to the 16th century mentions “vines and grapes from all sorts of varieties, muscat, verdelho, mourisco, açaria, and others”, among which would be, for instance, the Terceira terrantez, the Pico arinto or the purple verdelho. However, in time, the verdelho became the most famous and the one that best translates the force of the harsh, marine and Atlantic “terroir”.
It results in high quality generous wines and is mainly served with strong flavoured dishes like the always mentioned alcatra from Terceira, whose pepper, clove and laurel seasonings are heightened by its freshness.
A visit to the Wine Museum is mandatory and here you can taste the wines made from the Verdelho variety.
Brotherhood of the Biscoitos Verdelho Wine
The Brotherhood of the Biscoitos Verdelho Wine, the oldest brotherhood in the Azores, is a wine association established in the island of Terceira on March 10 1993.
Its headquarters is located in the parish of Biscoitos and the brothers wear a blue cloak (the colour of the Region’s flag) with a golden hem (the colour of the verdelho grape). The Brotherhood chose the coat of arms of the Autonomous Region of the Azores for its emblem, with the difference that the colour of the animals is brown, a change inspired by the Ramo Grande breed of cattle. The “tambuladeira” [bowl used to appreciate the scent and see the colour of the wine] is based on the clay “taladeira” traditionally used in the island of Terceira to taste new wines.
Among their principles and statutes is the purpose of defending, conferring prestige, valuing and promoting the Biscoitos Verdelho Wine, as well as all quality wines produced in the Autonomous Region of the Azores, and the pressure exerted by their members was crucial, for instance, to convert the land used in the production of the verdelho wine into a legally protected landscape included in the Terceira’s Natural Park.