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Rising from the Atlantic, 545 km off the coast of Morocco, about 1.000 km southwest of Lisbon, the Portuguese island of Madeira was discovered in 1418 by Captain João Gonçalves (popularly known as Zarco “cross-eyed”) who had been sent by Prince Henry the Navigator to claim new worlds for Portugal. The island was covered with dense woods – giving it the name Madeira, portuguese for wood – so to clear it for settlement, Zarco started a fire. Whether by chance or design it smoldered for seven years, producing vast amounts of potash, which mixed with the volcanic soil to make ideal soil for vines. The first vines were planted soon after that. To this day, and despite the fact that due to the mountainous nature of the soil, all the vineyards are very small and of difficult access, Madeira wine is still one of the most important activities in the island.