The Canary Islands have long been a well-kept secret among wine lovers, as their wines continue to earn global acclaim. This international recognition is hardly surprising given the archipelago’s unique geographical features and varied climate, which impart distinctive qualities to the wines. The forthcoming late-summer grape harvest lures enthusiasts to the island’s wineries to explore the enigmatic world of Canarian wines.
Ideal Growing Environments
Thanks to its unparalleled geographical and climatic conditions, the Atlantic archipelago boasts an array of optimal wine-growing regions. The diverse soil types—ranging from volcanic and sandy to calcareous—contribute to varied terroirs and nutrient profiles for the vines. Spread across different climatic zones, from near-sea level to mountainous terrains reaching nearly 1,700 metres, the islands cultivate close to a hundred grape varieties.
Unearthed Wine Treasures of the Canary Islands
Each island, be it Tenerife, Lanzarote, or Gran Canaria, has its own unique offerings in wine production. Tenerife, the largest among them, stands out for its volcanic soils and hosts some of the archipelago’s oldest vineyards. Exotic grape varieties like Listán Negro, Negramoll, and Malvasía flourish here.
Lanzarote, characterised by its otherworldly landscape of black volcanic rock, is another haven for wine lovers. The island’s vintners employ the unique “zocos” cultivation technique, involving hollows in volcanic soil sheltered by semi-circular stone walls, where Malvasía and Diego vines acquire their unique profiles.
Gran Canaria offers terraced vineyards set against scenic valleys. Here, grape varieties like Listán Blanco, Negra, and Moscatel mature, resulting in wines that span a broad flavour spectrum—from light and fruity to rich and robust.
Late-Summer Grape Harvest
Taking place traditionally in late summer, usually commencing in August or September, the grape harvest is a landmark event in the Canary Islands. Vintners and their crews manually harvest the fully ripened grapes. Following this, the winemaking process kicks off, involving meticulous pressing and the transfer of the must into large barrels. As the wine ages in the islands’ cool cellars, it develops its singular aromatic qualities.
Beyond being a sensory feast, the grape harvest offers a unique chance to immerse oneself in the islands’ rich cultural tapestry. Vineyards and wineries open their doors for tastings, providing insight into the craftsmanship and devotion infused into each bottle of wine. Visitors can also partake in wine walks that traverse undulating hills, captivating wine terraces, and quaint villages. Some wineries even offer the chance to engage hands-on in the grape-harvesting process, allowing for a truly authentic experience.