Pico vineyards

Entrance to one of the vineyards on Pico island.

I just spent a couple of days asking among vineyards that are set among lava rocks, in a terrain where you should not be able to grow wine. It’s on Pico Island in the Azores.

Why are they growing wine on lava rocks on the Azores?

The Pico vineyards.

The Pico vineyards.

The Azores was settled by the Portuguese in the 15th century. Many of the settlers were monks. They started to plant vineyards on Pico Island. And while clearing the land for volcanic rock, they used the rocks to build little walls around the vineyards.

Wine harvest Pico

Wine harvest on Pico Island.

The walls around the vineyards were necessary as the climate on Pico Island is not really for wine growing. But the lava rocks are heated up during the sun during the day and they take some hours to cool down.

So the heat they have generated during the day is now helping the vineyards to stay warm at night. This gives the vineyards a look that I have not seen anywhere else on the planet, during my +30 years of travel.


Normally vineyards are set in fertile landscape that is easily harvested. But because the 15th century munks did not have this on Pico Island. So they decided to grow wine where it should not be possible.


The Pico vineyards are UNESCO world heritage.

Road going through the Pico Vineyards.

Road going through the Pico Vineyards.

UNESCO has decided to make the vineyards on Pico Island UNESCO world heritage, because it’ s a great example of how you can grow something against the odss if you are creative.

I am really happy that they are being preserved. Because it is so weird to walk around these vineyards.

I used to work in the wine industry in my younger years. And the Pico vineyards are really going against the odds, but it works. The wine that is made in these vineyards is actually of a fairly high quality.


Walking around the vineyards on Pico island.

If you visit Pico Island on the Azores, it’s quite easy to take a walk around the vineyards. They are located just outside the main town on Pico Island called Madalena. The community that grows them is called Criacao Velho. You are free to walk around the vineyards.  

I have been asked by the locals to ask visitors to please not eat the grapes and other fruits growing there, as this is their livestock. So please respect that everyone. Farmers can only survive if their livestock is not stolen.

The Vineyards are situated right below the Pico Volcano, which is the highest mountain in Portugal and a really spectacular volcano.

Wine tasting on Pico Island.

Wine tasting on Pico Island.

I can not tell the world enough to visit the Azores. This is such a unique spot on this planet. And this comes from a person who has spent +30 years traversing the globe. I have visited more than 80 countries. And the Azores is on my personal Top 10.

Wine from Pico Island.

Wine from Pico Island.

Pico Island rock and so do their vineyards.

And the Azores is just a fantastic place to visit. I have more blogposts about the islands on this link.



  1. Nice article! Love to be there anytime soon

  2. A fascinating man-made landscape – definitely one day I’ll follow your recommendation to visit the Azores!

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