The Canary Islands (Spanish: Canarias), a group of islands belonging to Spain with about 7,500 km², are located in the Atlantic Ocean off the northwest coast of Africa. This is 1,100 km from mainland Spain, but the easternmost island of Lanzarote is only 100 kilometres from Africa(Morocco). When the Romans landed on the island of Fuerteventura in ancient times, they found numerous packs of wild dogs, so they named the island "Insula Canaria" (Dog Island). In 1402 a Spanish ship landed on Gran Canaria and found there the original population of the Guanches, this people still lived like in the stone age. The Spaniards and Portuguese brought their native grape varieties with them until the end of the century and established viticulture. Sweet, alcohol-heavy wines were popular at the time, made from the white varieties Moscatel and Malvasia. The wine was known as "canary sack" and was exported in large quantities to England and northern Europe. By the time of William Shakespeare (1564-1616), island wine was already famous; in "What You Will," Sir Toby Belch asks for "a cup of canary."
The seven main islands are Fuerteventura, La Gomera, Gran Canaria, El Hierro, Lanzarote, La Palma and Tenerife; wine is grown on all of them. They are volcanic islands, the last eruption took place on La Palma in 1971. For this reason, the soil is volcanic and very suitable for viticulture. The subtropical climate, which is pleasant and constant throughout the year, has earned the archipelago the nickname of the "Islands of Eternal Spring". The flora is characterized by a high biodiversity and a high percentage of autochthonous plant species. The vineyards cover about 9,000 hectares of vines. A special feature are the exclusively rootless vines, as the archipelago was largely spared from phylloxera.
Here the Englishman John Hill planted vines for the first time in 1626. The terraced vineyards of the DO area of the same name with almost 300 hectares of vineyards reach up to 700 metres above sea level. It is best known for white wines made from the Vijariego Blanco variety. These account for around 70% of production and are also made from the other Canary Island varieties. The red wines are mainly made from Listán Negro and Negramoll. The best sweet wines are made from noble rot grapes.
The DO area of the same name comprises around 450 hectares of vineyards at an altitude of up to 850 metres above sea level (the former second DO area Monte Lentiscal has been abandoned or integrated). The vineyards are located around the capital Las Palmas and in the northeast of the island. The most famous wine, which also established the DO status, is "Tinto del Monte" (mountain wine) from the Listán Negro variety.
With 370 km² the second smallest island. The DO area of the same name covers around 100 hectares of vineyards on steeply terraced slopes, fortified with stone walls.
In 1730, there was a volcanic eruption that lasted six years and covered the entire island with a layer of lapilli (small stones) and black ash. The DO area, which covers the entire island, comprises around 2,300 hectares of vineyards in the five municipalities of Haría, San Bartolomé, Teguise, Tinajo and Yaiza. It is divided into four subzones: La Geria in the south, San Bartolomé -Tías in the centre, Tinajo in the west and Haría - Ye in the north. The climate is extremely dry. The vines are planted in artificial depressions (hoyos) up to three metres deep and surrounded by semicircular stone walls made of basaltic lava boulders to protect them from the north-east trade winds and drying out. A specialty is fortified, high-alcohol sweet wines. The best wines are made from vines up to a hundred years old. The Bodega "El Grifo", founded in 1775, runs a wine museum worth seeing and is famous for its Malvasia wines.
This is also called "La Isla Bonita" (the beautiful island). The DO area of the same name with over 1,000 hectares of vineyards consists of the three subzones Fuencaliente-Las Manchas, Hoyo de Mazo and Norte del Palma. To 80% white wines are pressed from the classical sorts. The sweet wines produced from noble rotten berries are partly spritted. A speciality is the white wine "Vino de Tea" from Albillo. It is named after a native pine species from which the 500-litre barrels are made for ageing.
With almost 2,000 km² the largest of the Canary Islands. There are five DO areas here. The southern DO area of Abona covers 2,200 hectares at an altitude of up to 1,800 metres above sea level. The DO area Tacoronte-Acentejo on the west coast covers 1,800 hectares and is named after the towns Tacoronte and La Victoria de Acentejo. The climatically hottest DO area, Ycoden-Daute-Isora, covers the entire green northwest of the island. It is named after the ancient Guanche kingdoms of Ycode and Daute, and the realm of Princess Isora. The steep vineyards at up to 1,400 metres above sea level cover 1,600 hectares. Garachico developed into the main export port of the famous "Canary Sack". The DO area Valle de Güímar covers 750 hectares and is named after the valley of the same name. The vineyards here are located up to 1,400 meters above sea level. The DO area Valle de la Orotava covers 700 hectares and is named after the town of Orotava on the northwest coast.
Well-known producers in the Canary Islands include Bodega Comarcal Valle de Güimar, Bodegas El Grifo, Bodega El Lomo, Bodega El Níspero, Bodegas Flores, Bodegas Insulares Tenerife, Bodega Llanovid, Bodegas Monje, Bodegas Mozaga, Bodegas Reverón, Bodega Tajinaste, Bodega Tomás Guzmán Mesa Rodríguez, Bodega Viña Chagua, Bodegas Viñátigo, Coop. Cumbres de Abona and Juan Jesús Méndez Siverio.