The total area of Madeira is 732 Km2 and the size of the Wine-Growing Region is approximately 500 hectares. It forms a unique landscape characterised by sharply elevated terrain. The specific conditions of the soil of volcanic origin, mainly basalt and the proximity to the sea, combined with the climatic conditions of hot, humid summers and mild winters, gives the wine its unique and particular characteristics.
The agricultural land is characterised by very sharp slopes which have generally been made into terraces known as poios.
The irrigation water in Madeira is captured from the highest areas of the island and conducted through canals called levadas. The impressive canal system totals 2150 Km.
The most traditional system is the latada (trellised vine), where the vines are laid out horizontally. Although the twentieth century saw the introduction of espalier vines, this form of cultivation may only be applied on land with gentler slopes.
From mid-August to October the grape harvest is carried out in a majestic ritual, during which there is an incredible concentration of efforts, since the sharp hilly terrain and system of small fragmented land holdings makes the grape harvest a cumbersome process, which even today is still done totally by hand.