Wine production in Lanzarote is nothing new, the inhabitants have been producing wine on the island for centuries. The current oldest winery, El Grifo, dates back as far as 1775, and even Shakespeare is reputed to have referred to “Canarian wine”.
Many of the vineyards are in the valley of La Geria, which is on the southern side of the volcanic region around the Timanfaya National Park.
The scenery here is really unique, and at first glance the whole area looks really barren, and more like a bizarre lunar landscape rather than a region for growing wine.
This is not your typical wine growing region
In most other wine growing areas around the world, a vineyard consists of rows and rows of grape vines in a green landscape that is dotted with trees, just like the picture on the right.
The image shown here is nowhere near Lanzarote of course. This is the Three Choirs Vineyard in Hampshire, England.
But here in the La Geria valley the landscape appears to be barren and rocky, and covered with hundreds and hundreds of semi-circles of lava rock, which in February, when the vines have barely started to produce new growth, seem to have nothing inside and therefore don’t seem to serve any explainable purpose.
However, if you do look closely, each semi-circle of rocks has a vine inside it, which by summer will be a lot larger and the whole landscape will appear to be green, rather than the apparently barren grey of the winter months after the vines have been cut back.
This unique method of growing vines has proved to be extremely successful, with the farmers digging shallow holes before planting the vines, which mostly survive on water that has been trapped in the layers of volcanic rock. Stone are piled up around the shallow hole in a semi-circle to firstly give the vines shade from the scorching sun, and secondly to provide shelter from the wind, which at times can be very strong, given that this is a small island out in the Atlantic Ocean.
If you look closely at some of the photographs below you can see small wineries dotted around the countryside. The circles of rocks are everywhere, covering just about every inch of land, even right up the slopes of some of the now dormant volcanoes. It really is a unique landscape, and one that had me taking a large number of photographs, only a few of which I could really showcase here.
It still amazes me however, how farmers have managed to grow grapes on what is essentially rocky ground. Just fertilising and caring for the vines in such a landscape is a far cry from the your typical vineyards with their rows of vines. And yet it works, and the locals have become very successful at producing fine quality wines.
Having spent some hours touring the Timanfaya National Park, Debbie and I decided to stop at one of the wineries on the way back to our apartment in Tiagua while we were driving through the valley of La Geria.
Bodega Familia Antonio Suarez
We drove past several of the larger wineries that obviously catered to bus loads of tourists, preferring to find somewhere a bit smaller, and Bodega Antonio Suarez looked like a good place to stop.
The winery looked attractive from the outside, it wasn’t busy and there was plenty of parking space, so we thought we would give it a try.
Inside the front of the building we descended out of the heat into a large cellar below ground level, and sampled some of their wines as well as local bread, cheese and meats. We really enjoyed the wines, but I have to admit that we didn’t find a single wine on the island that we didn’t like!
If you decide to rent a car in Lanzarote, we highly recommend stopping off at a winery after a day of sightseeing.
Debbie and I decided that our next winery stop ought to be one of the smaller ones that was off the main road. We picked one that looked interesting, requiring us to drive about 1/4 mile up a gravel track to get to it.
El Chupadero is not just a winery. The owner, Barbara Kendrick has built a really nice modern restaurant that serves a wide range of food and tapas as well as local wines. They also have entertainment in the evenings, and the view across the valley from outside the restaurant is lovely.
Many thanks to Pól Ó Conghaile for giving us permission to use the image above, which is from his article El Chupadero: Lanzarote’s Best-Kept Secret.
Unfortunately, as so often happens, Debbie was more interested in tapas and wine than in my taking time to snap away with the camera, and so the photos below are the best of the ones that were taken in a hurry, late afternoon when the shadows often cause havoc with the composition.
The photos below show the front of the restaurant taken from the car park, the long gravel track leading into the wilderness (facing the opposite direction), and the outside eating and drinking area, which is very popular on a nice day. We already fell in love with Lanzarote, so we will be back to take more photographs, and of course to enjoy the ambience.
You can find out more information about El Chuparero on their Facebook page.
Irish travel author Pól Ó Conghaile has also written an excellent article about El Chupadero on his website, El Chupadero: Lanzarote’s Best-Kept Secret. He has an excellent description of the restaurant as well as photographs of the location and food that really put my poor offerings to shame.
Want to take a winery tour in Lanzarote?
Debbie and I preferred to drive ourselves in search of some of the smaller and less commercial wineries, but if you don’t have your own transport, there are tours that will take you to the wineries, usually as part of a trip to the Timanfaya volcanic region.
There are also various companies that specialise in winery tours on the island. Wine Tours Lanzarote has a good website that will give you more information about the wineries that the tours visit.
Other Links To Lanzarote Wines And Vineyards
Below are some other links that give you information about the wines that are grown in Lanzarote, their history, winery tours, and also a list of some recommended wineries and wines that you might like to sample.
- Raising a glass to Lanzarote (The Telegraph)
- The strange volcanic vineyards of Lanzarote (Mother Nature Network)
- Seven sensational Lanzarote wineries (Spain-Holiday.com)
- The wine valley of La Geria (Spain-Lanzarote.com)
If you missed my other articles about our trip to Lanzarote, why not start at the beginning of our tour Lanzarote in February.