Fogo Island

Ilha do Fogo, the "Island of Fire"

The vineyard "Vinha Maria Chaves" is located on  the Island of Fogo (Cape Verde)  where the sun is shining nearly 365 days a year. An Atlantic sea breeze gives the softness to these grapes. The soil is volcanic, virgin and for centuries the perfect terroir for these “ancient local varieties” of grapes. 


The Island of FOGO was discovered at the same time as SANTIAGO and MAIO, on May lst. 1460. At first it was called SanFILIPE but later, and quite approprieately its name was changed to FOGO (Fire).

The island of FOGO is almost round in shape, and looks as if it is just a volcanic mountain.Fogo_from_afar_3 The surface area is 476 Km2, covers an area of 14 miles from east to west and 16 miles from north to south. and, although only the fourth biggest island of the Archipelago, it is the highest with the top of the volcano reaching a height of 2829 m.  The volcano is in fact the main tourist attraction of the island. The volcanic cone rises from a sort of plateau about 8 km in diameter, called CHÃ DAS CALDEIRAS the walls on the western side reach almost 1000 m and end in a crater 500 meters in diameter and 180 meters deep. This is truly the most spectacular scenery in the whole of the Archipelago. The original volcanic cone must, at one time, have reached a height of 3500 m. The volcano was active right up to the XVIII century, when the main cone ceased activity and all that remained as testimony to it were the vulcanic vapours and deposits of sulphur. There have been sporadic eruptions and the last one was in 1951, when the lava poured out of one of the two chimneys on the southern side of the volcano.


The main attraction in Fogo is its volcano, which fascinates both locals and foreigners. Hiking is the main activity but you can also relax on the black sandy beaches (Fonte Bila), visit its charming villages and explore the colonial past of the island through its houses, churches, and cemeteries. The national dish, caechupa, is like a cassoulet, and is based on corn, bacon, and chorizo. cachupa-with-ear-fromFish, chicken, pork, rice and some vegetables are the basic constituents of local cuisine. You can also find excellent grilled lobster or crayfish.

The crafts industry is not very extensive and is mainly limited to crochet tablecloths, table mats, bedspreads, etc. as well as paintings, batik, straw hats and objects made from sea shells.

Chã das Caldeiras

Chã das Caldeiras (“Plain of the Calderas”) is a small community of approximately 1,000 inhabitants, situated within the crater of the volcanic Pico do Fogo on the island of Fogo, one of nine inhabited islandsv2chaves1265comprising the West African nation of Cape Verde. The village consists of two parts: Portela is the upper part with the Tourist Information, a school, Catholic Church, Adventist Church and the Cooperative. The lower part is Bangaeira.

Fogo, a “stop” between Africa, Brazil, Europe.

Fogo was the second island in the archipelago to be populated, after Santiago (then São Tiago). Initially, the island’s cash crop was cotton, picked by slaves from Angola. A fiery eruption in 1688 caused a majority of the inhabitants to leave for nearby Island of Brava, another of the Cape Verdean islands.

From 1785 on, whaling ships from Brockton and New Bedford, Massachusetts (USA) came to replenish their ships and recruit crews. The departure of these Americanos marks the beginning of the Cape Verdean diaspora.

Thanks to the volcano, the land is very fertile and lends itself well to the  cultivation of grapes, coffee, apples, pomegranates and vegetables.

Not everyone left Fogo, however. In 1870, the eccentric Count of Montrond (France) stopped on the island en route to Brazil. He stayed, and brought with him the vines that kicked off wine production in the caldera. Many of the inhabitants of Chã, with their light skin, blond hair, and blue eyes, trace their ancestry back to the biologically prolific Count. It is to be assumed that the origine of the ancient wines at Fogo are coming from Portugal  (Touriga, Presta Tradinional, etc.. ). But “we” discovered a Southern French  flavour in the wine (Sauvignon Blanc ?, Merlot ?….), a logical consequence of the “activities” of our French Count, probably bringing most grape vines from France.



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