The Canary Islands is an archipelago of Spanish islands that geographically sit closer to the African continent – just 60 miles off the Moroccan coast. Tenerife, Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, La Palma, La Gomera, El Hierro, and La Graciosa are all inhabited and open to tourists. Volcanic landscapes, incredible beaches, and year-round warm weather make the Canary Islands a popular winter sun destination.
The volcanic terrain and subtropical climate also make the Canary Islands one of the world’s most interesting wine destinations. Wine has been produced on the archipelago since the 15th century. In fact, Shakespeare’s play Twelfth Night refers to the wine as a “cup of canary”.
Technically, the northeasterly Lanzarote experiences a desert climate and receives minimal rain.
The island underwent a six-year sequence of volcanic eruptions from 1730. This destroyed the crop-producing plains and coated around a third of the island with lava and ash debris. Known as picón, this rubble fared much better in the growing of wine grapes and fruit trees in contrast to the crops. Many Lanzarote winemakers started to plant their vines in deep pits burrowed into the picón known as hoyos. Seeing as the island is particularly dry, the Atlantic trade winds bring moisture to the vineyards.
There are five native grapes on the island with most wineries and vineyards located in Geria, Masdache, and Tinajo.
Founded in 1775, Bodegas El Grifo is the oldest winery in the Canary Islands and one of the oldest in Spain. The lunar-like landscape is phenomenal and will have any wine aficionado baffled by how the terrain yields its world-class wine. This historic winery grows the typical Lanzarote grape, Malvasía Volcánica, which is responsible for making dry white wines with citrus fruit notes. Meanwhile, the Listán Negro variety produces medium-high body reds with cherry and strawberry notes backed by spices as well as rosé wines.
As the largest Canary Island, Tenerife comprises five wine regions: Valle de la Orotava, Ycoden-Daute-Isora, Abona, Tacoronte-Acentejo, and Valle de Güímar. The most popular wines are grown on the slopes of Mount Teide, an active volcano that constitutes Spain’s highest peak.
Tenerife features a range of microclimates that contribute to diverse viniculture. The south of the island is the realm of such grapes as Listán Blanco which results in fresh white wines backed by fennel and fig tree leaves. Both reds and whites are produced in the cooler north with black-skinned Listán Negro leading to refreshing rosé wines and light reds with berry accents. These grapes are often blended with Tinta Negra Mole.
Bodegas Monje is a family-run winery in Tacoronte-Acentejo with a sea-view restaurant. The nearby Casa del Vino is a wine museum where tastings and tours are available plus there is a wine store.
Flights connect mainland Spain with the Canary Islands. Contact me when you are ready to book your trip to the island of your choice. You may also want to consider the Portuguese archipelago of Madeira for a winter sun getaway with a fascinating wine scene.