Island of Santa Maria (Portugal)

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

Where we are

Santa Maria is entirely rural, with a small village as its capital. Within its isolated, mid-Atlantic rural reality, the island harbours a number of historical vineyards and wine production landscapes. Some of the most singular landscapes on the island of Santa Maria are the centuries-old vineyards of São Lourenço and Maia. They scramble up the escarpments in the islands’ bays, forming 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 disrepair 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 its potential to draw in the tourists.

Rural Heritage

Supported by RURITAGE, the Municipal de Vila do Porto with partners aims to regenerate the landscape by valuing its vineyards and the wine making, bringing together interests from the environment, agriculture, tourism and culture agencies. With collaborative rehabilitation of this rural heritage landscape, the local community can turn this trend around and derive sustainable tangible value through cultural, ecotourism and product sales.