Lanzarote: from the volcano to the glass. The history of the island that produces an excellent wine from volcanic lava

la geria lanzarote vignes by Thierry GUIMBERT from Adobe stock

The vineyards of Lanzarote are different from the others. They represent one of the many “battles” that have taken place between man and the environment. If you try to stop in a winery in La Geria and take a taste, you will realize that here the man really managed to win a great challenge. In this case, however, he once made the landscape beautiful and created something good for the earth and the economy.

The vineyards of Lanzarote grow on a basaltic sea of black rocks formed after the eruption of Timanfaya in the 18th century and this is only the first of the many obstacles that a normal vineyard could encounter if it wanted to produce wine grapes.
Good wine I mean!
To all this we must add the climate of Lanzarote which is heavenly for men but certainly not for the cultivation of grapes: lots of sun, very little rain and even strong winds.

Although everything seems to the limit of the impossible, the wines of Lanzarote continue to win many awards for their goodness and their taste, a sign that behind the work of the farmers there is not only the commitment in wanting to grow something in a difficult condition, but also the great ability to create an excellent product.

El Grifo de Lanzarote won a prize in a Brussels competition for its 2018 Malvasia Volcanica Lias and one for the 2019 Red Collection, ticking it off among 10,000 wines from nearly 50 different countries. Martinon, Rubicon and La Geria also got some awards.

But where does the “secret” of the cultivation of the vineyards of Lanzarote really come from?
The winemakers realized that under the lava and ash, the soil formed by sand and clay was still fertile and so they dug deep funnel-shaped holes and planted 3 vines in each of them.
They also added semi-circular stone walls to protect the vines from strong winds and the volcanic ash that moves with them.

As for the absence of rain, the layer of lapilli (small fragments of lava) has been exploited, which have a thermo-regulating effect on the subsoil. This facilitates the filtration of rain avoiding evaporation from the soil and maintaining a constant temperature.