The firm that was eventually to become Miles Madeira was originally known as Rutherford & Grant, established on the Island of Madeira in 1814. In 1856 Henry Price Miles left England with his family and arrived in Madeira. Having worked as an apprentice since the age of 12 under the tutelage of James Rutherford, he acquired sound knowledge and experience of the workings of the Madeira trade. In 1872, the Rutherfords left for London (due to Phylloxera which decimated most of the vineyards in Madeira) and started up a wine importing business at the Old Trinity House in Waterlane. This prompted Miles to purchase the company and stocks and he later made a gentleman's agreement with Rutherford that any Madeira sold by them in the United Kingdom, Scandinavia, or Russia would be bought through H. P. Miles and Co. This agreement was respected and carried on until the Rutherfords sold their firm Rutherfords, Osborne and Perkins to Martini Rossi in the 1960's.
Together with the wine production, H. P. Miles created the first brewery in Madeira in 1872 called the "Atlantic Brewery". It was in these two companies that he and his 2 sons, Henry Alfred and Charles Vaughan created the Miles legacy on the Island.
After the end of World War II, conditions in the wine trade became extremely difficult and Henry Alfred Miles' son, Cecil Miles negotiated the entry of H. P. Miles and Co. into the Madeira Wine Association.
Miles Madeira is synonymous with excellent Madeira wine and has become one of the best known and most respected brands in the world.
The island of Madeira, of volcanic origin, was discovered in 1419 by the Portuguese Captain, João Gonçalves Zarco, and is an archipelago composed of two inhabited islands – Madeira and Porto Santo – and two small uninhabited islets, the Desertas and the Selvagens. Madeira’s location in the Atlantic made it an important strategic port of call which led to the rapid expansion of the island’s wine, especially in countries such as the United States of America. It was so popular in the USA that in the 18th century, Madeira wine is reported to have represented over 75% of all wine imported into this market.
The archipelago is situated at 32º 38’ latitude north and 16º 54’ longitude west, about 1100kms off the coast of Portugal, and 590 kms off the coast of Morocco. The total area of the island is 741 kms2, of which the vineyards occupy about 490 hectares.
The island relief is steep and a mountain range that climbs up to 1.862m (6.109Ft) in altitude above sea-level – the highest peak is Pico Ruivo – runs the length of the island, virtually dividing it in two, and causing 7 different micro-climates that have a determining effect on where the vineyards are planted.
Negramoll was thought to be a native variety of the Canaries and Madeira (under the name Tinta Negra Mole), where it was already widespread in the 19th century. However, recent DNA studies have shown that Negramoll is identical to Mollar, an old variety from Andalucia, possibly from Cadiz where it was first mentioned in 1787. It is therefore likely that this variety was introduced from Andalucia to the Canaries and to Madeira in or before the 18th century. Here it was given the name Negramoll or (Tinta) Negra Mole (officially Tinta Negra since 2000), based on the old Andalucian synonym of Mollar Negro.M
Under the name Tinta Negra Mole, the variety dominates on Madeira. Although according to official statistics there were just 277 ha in 2009, cultivated in Funchal and Câmara de Lobos in the south and São Vincente in the north, and the variety is rarely acknowledged in wine names, it is by far the most widely planted varietal on the island and represents between 80-85% of all wine produced on Madeira. (The second is verdelho with 47 ha). This dominance was particularly marked when phylloxera hit the island in 1872, when growers preferred to plant the more robust dark-skinned Tinta Negra Mole, rather than the light skinned white varietals.