Lanzarote Vineyards: Unveiling Lanzarote's Volcanic Wines

Posted on  
May 27, 2024

Lanzarote might be known for its beaches and otherworldly landscapes, but a hidden treasure is nestled amongst its volcanic craters – La Geria, a unique wine-growing region. Here, resilient vines thrive in volcanic soil, producing extraordinary wines infused with the island's fiery spirit.


Where is Lanzarote?

Lanzarote, the island of fire, is one of the seven main islands of the Canary Archipelago, located off the northwest coast of Africa, bathed by the waters of the Atlantic Ocean. Known for its otherworldly volcanic landscapes, showcased in the Timanfaya National Park, golden sandy beaches, and year-round warm climate, Lanzarote offers a unique vacation experience. But beyond its natural attractions, including the unique Cactus Garden, the island holds a hidden treasure among its volcanic craters: La Geria, a unique wine region where resilient vines thrive in the rich volcanic soil, defying arid conditions and creating local wines with an unparalleled character. Lanzarote is also home to the oldest winery in the Canary Islands, Bodegas El Grifo, established in 1775.




Discover Lanzarote's Unexpected Treasure: Volcanic Vineyards

You might not immediately associate Lanzarote with vineyards, but this Canary Island has a delightful surprise – yes, it has vineyards, and they produce surprisingly delicious and distinctive wines! Let's dive into the fascinating world of Lanzarote wine:

  • Is Lanzarote Wine Good? Absolutely! Lanzarote's wines are gaining recognition for their high quality and unique flavors shaped by the volcanic soil, ocean influence, and the challenges faced by the vines.
  • How Do They Grow Grapes in Lanzarote? Winemakers overcome the arid landscape with ingenious traditional methods. The Hoyo Method involves digging semi-circular pits called "hoyos" through the volcanic ash (picón) to reach the fertile soil below—the Hoyos shelter delicate vines from the wind, and the porous picón traps precious moisture.
  • What is the Oldest Vineyard in Lanzarote?   Bodegas El Grifo, established in 1775, boasts centuries of winemaking tradition and a fascinating wine museum showcasing Lanzarote's viticulture history.




Vines, Volcanoes, and Visual Drama

Centuries of volcanic eruptions blanketed Lanzarote in a thick layer of "picón" – black, porous ash. This seemed like a disaster for grape cultivation, but the ingenuity of local farmers led to this remarkable adaptation.

The vineyard landscape of La Geria is a breathtaking sight, unlike any other wine-growing region in the world. Neat rows of vines, each within its protective hoyo, stretch across the black volcanic slopes against the backdrop of crater rims.


Tasting the Terroir: Lanzarote's Volcanic Wines

When you sip a Lanzarote wine, you're tasting the island itself. The distinctive flavors are a direct expression of the volcanic landscape, harsh climate, and the vines' tenacious spirit. Here's how to identify the key elements:

  • Volcanic Minerality: The porous volcanic soil (picón) infuses the wines with an intriguing mineral quality. Imagine hints of stone, earth, or even a subtle smokiness. This backbone sets Lanzarote wines apart.
  • Ocean's Kiss: The constant Atlantic winds carry a touch of salt into the vineyards, resulting in a refreshing salinity on the palate, adding complexity and a sense of place.
  • Vibrant Acidity: This lively acidity is a hallmark of Lanzarote wines. The combination of warm temperatures, cool nights, and the grapes' struggle to draw nutrients from the arid land contributes to this brightness that makes the wines so food-friendly.
  • Malvasía Volcánica: The star of Lanzarote's white wines, this grape variety thrives in the volcanic environment. Expect aromas of ripe citrus, tropical fruits like mango or pineapple, and sometimes a floral element like honeysuckle.

Beyond the Basics: While the above are the most prominent characteristics, here are some other nuances you might discover:

  • Dry vs. Sweet: Lanzarote produces both dry and sweet wines, especially from Malvasía and Diego grapes.
  • Subtle Spice: Some wines, especially reds, may have a hint of spice or pepper.
  • Honeyed Notes: Sweet wines often showcase honeyed richness alongside vibrant acidity.

The best way to understand the nuances of Lanzarote's volcanic wines is to try them! Look for terms like "volcanic," "mineral," and "saline" on wine labels or tasting notes to guide your exploration.



Exploring Lanzarote's Bodegas and Wine Culture

A visit to Lanzarote's wineries is an immersive journey into the island's unique viticulture and winemaking traditions. Discover the diverse bodegas of La Geria, each offering a distinctive experience:

  • Vineyard Strolls and Cellar Tours:** Many bodegas offer guided tours that transport you from the vine to the bottle. Stroll through the vineyards, marvel at the traditional hoyos, and learn the intricate steps of transforming grapes into the distinctive wines of Lanzarote.
  • Uncorking History:** Lanzarote's winemaking heritage is long and fascinating. Bodegas El Grifo, the island's oldest, even boasts a dedicated wine museum. Delve into the past, gaining a deeper appreciation for the challenges and triumphs of cultivating grapes in this extraordinary landscape.
  • Tasting Experiences:** The culmination of most visits is a guided wine tasting. Sample various bottlings, from crisp, dry whites bursting with minerality to sweet, honeyed dessert wines. Many bodegas offer local cheeses or snacks to pair, showcasing the complete culinary experience.
  • Bodega La Geria: A classic spot with a charming outdoor area.
  • Bodegas Stratvs: Striking modern vineyard architecture amidst the volcanoes.
  • Los Bermejos: Known for its award-winning Malvasía wines and sustainable practices.
  • Bodega Rubicón: Offers a vast selection of wines to taste, showcasing the island's range.


Tips for Planning Your Bodega Visits: To make the most of your bodega experiences, keep these tips in mind:

  • Book Ahead:** Especially during peak season, popular bodegas fill up fast. Book tours and tastings in advance.
  • Check on Options:** Tour lengths and inclusions (tastings, food pairings) vary across wineries.
  • Leave Room:** You'll likely be tempted to buy! Make sure you have space in your luggage...or inquire about shipping options.
  • Transportation:** If planning to enjoy tastings, consider a designated driver, taxi, or organized wine tour.


Beyond the Wine

Lanzarote's traditional cultivation methods are a testament to sustainable agriculture.

Whether you're a wine connoisseur or simply curious, a trip to the vineyards of La Geria is a must-do in Lanzarote, and one of the best places to stay to kick off your adventure is Sandos Papagayo, a hotel to enjoy with the family or Sandos Atlantic Gardens, an adults-only hotel focused on holistic and wellness vacations.