The Blandy family is unique in being the only family of all the original founders of the Madeira Wine Association that still own and manage their original wine company.
Throughout its long history on the island the family has played a leading role in the development of Madeira wine. Members of the family continue to live in Madeira maintaining a tradition that goes back to 1811: Two centuries of fine wine production.
John Blandy, the founder of Blandy’s Madeira arrived on the island in 1808. A letter of introduction sent from London to Messrs Newton, Gordon, Murdoch, wine merchants in Madeira – found in 2006 – read: ‘Sirs! At the desire of our particular friend, Richard Fuller Esq., Banker in this City, we beg leave to introduce Mr John Blandy who visits your Island on account of ill health and wishes to obtain employment in a Counting House. We shall be obliged if you can promote his views and accordingly recommend him to your attention.’ The letter is dated 23 December 1807 implying that John Blandy arrived in the island early in 1808.
In 1811 he founded his own business as a wine shipper and general trader with his brothers Thomas and George and started to set the foundation for the family business in the production of the most famous and unique wine in the world – Madeira wine.
The company soon started exporting wine to the four corners of the world and to places as far as Russia, Northern Europe, Antilles and North America. In order to broaden their activities they also began importing various products from other origins.
John Blandy’s tenacity in buying up small property holdings over the course of nearly 20 years allowed the family to have what is known today as the Blandy’s Wine Lodge. These wine lodges are some of the oldest on the island, and aside from their evident historical heritage, they also boast special properties that contribute to the making of truly remarkable wines. The layout, shape and structure of the Wine Lodges create a combination of unique temperature and humidity conditions, stretching from the cellar up to the highest attics, which make them perfect for ageing Madeira wine.
During the disastrous oidium plague in 1852, it was Charles Blandy who had the foresight to buy up a great proportion of the stocks of old wine on the island thus safeguarding his company’s ability to continue selling Madeira wine.
Many others followed him since, always with one goal in mind: to leave the company for the future generations in a stronger condition than the one they have received it.
The Madeira Wine Association, founded in 1913, was originally a group of Madeira wine producing companies, who decided to join forces in order to strengthen their purchasing and wine making abilities. 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.
Led by the Blandy family since the late 70's, the Madeira Wine Company (as it became known) managed to survive the bleak years whilst many individual companies fell by the wayside.
In 1989 the Blandy family, needing to strengthen the sales and marketing side of the business, invited the Symington Port shipping family 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 2015 the Madeira Wine Company led by the aim of offering the best enotourism experience on the island, started the renovation program for the Blandy's Wine Lodge. Now, apart from ageing cellars, the Wine Lodge features a Family Museum, several shops and tasting rooms, guided tours and spaces for events.
Starting from 2016, these innovations have won the Madeira Wine Company 'Top 100 Wineries of the World' award by Wine & Spirits Magazine already 5 times.
Michael and Chris Blandy, members of the 6th and 7th generations of the family, continue to work in the company, which is currently run by Chris.
Madeira Wine Company continues to lead the way in the re-establishment of Madeira as one of the world’s greatest wines and maintaining the standing of Blandy's Madeira as the leading producer of premium quality Madeiras.