Conservation of historic vineyards in Santa Maria

Restoration of Santa Maria’s terraced vineyard landscapes, and of their cultural, economic and nature conservation functions

Where we are

Santa Maria is one of the islands of the mid-Atlantic Azores archipelago. This small, rural village harbours a vast landscape characterised by this type of wine production and cultivation.  São Lourenço and Maia are among some of the centuries-old vineyards of the island, forming a gravity-defying, man-made terraces reminiscent of the Inca and Maya constructions.


Over the years, these carefully sculptured mountainside vineyards provided employment and income for many. However, in the 19th century they started to fall into deterioration due to the arrival of vine diseases, immigration and difficulties in accessing markets. Invasive species started to claim ground, and the cultural landscape lost its glory and appeal to attracting tourists.

Rural Heritage

Supported by RURITAGE, the municipality of Vila do Porto together with partners aims to regenerate the landscape by valuing its vineyards and wine-making business, bringing together interests from the environment, agriculture, tourism and culture agencies. With a collaborative rehabilitation approach of the rural heritage landscape, the local community aims to turn things around and develop a sustainable tangible value through cultural, ecotourism and product sales.