Wines of Lanzarote

La vigne de Lanzarote
Bodega of tisalaya, Lanzarote

Lava Land

Lanzarote already had a proud heritage of viniculture. Wine had been successfully produced on the island since the 1500’s (see Bards and Vineyards). But the question remained. Could they still grow vines in this new volcanic landscape ? Ironically though, the seemingly apocalyptic volcanic eruptions actually gave local farmers a helping hand. They soon discovered that they could use granules of volcanic rock (known as picon) as a type of porous mulch. The picon absorbs moisture from the air, releases it into the ground and prevents evaporation. This enables a method of dry cultivation known as ‘enarenado’ which is completely unique to Lanzarote. As a result local farmers could sidestep the problem of Lanzarote’s extremely low rainfall, which was obviously a major hurdle for any kind of crop cultivation

The Vegueta zone , Lanzarote

Hand Craft

The only down side to this method of cultivation for wine producers is that everything has to be done by hand. The vine stocks are individually planted in craters dug to around a metre in depth. They are then covered in picon and protected further by the semi circular zocos. At harvest time all of the grapes are hand picked. This makes viniculture here pretty labour intensive and as a result wine production employs around 1,500 people on the island. Together they produce an average of 2 million litres annually

La Geria in Lanzarote

Grape varieties

The vast majority of production, around 75%, is still dedicated to the Malvasia grape. This sweet wine was once the top tipple of the European aristocracy. Today, Lanzarote still produces sweet and dessert wines of a high quality. The remainder of production is split between other grape varieties, such as Diego, Muscatel and Pedro Ximenez. The wine region is still home to a number of thriving bodegas, producing a full range of wines encompassing red, white and rose. Handily, most of the bodegas line the bumpy little road in La Geria, facilitating an easy sampling tour

The classic method of wine culture

Craters and Crops

Instead there are row upon row of dimple like craters and volcanic stone semi-circles. Called Zocos, these have been built for each individual vine and provide much needed protection from the sometimes-fierce winds

The classic method of wine culture

Wines of Lanzarote

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