The Malvasia Wine Route of La Geria, Lanzarote

This is a wine route on Lanzarote island following the path of the history along five strategic locations in La Geria Region, in the south of the island. This route has 7 stops: including 4 cellars and 3 nice towns. All together the path is 19km long, but you can get fun out of it starting from the morning and even spend the full day enjoying wine tasting, understanding the history of a natural disaster, the overcoming strike back of the brave local population and the traditional white architecture in the background.

Map of Malvasia Wine Route. Click on the image for an interactive map.

A disaster as a starting

The volcanos started the wine game. The volcanic eruptions between 1730 and 1736 seemed to want to erase Lanzarote from the map and covered with volcanic ash some of the most fertile land on the island. Forced by circumstances, the peasants dug in the ash, sought the fertile soil and cultivated, without knowing the transformation that this would entail in their landscape and their crops.

The locals transformed the picón, as they call that volcanic black land made out heavy lunar looking like stones and ashes into an opportunity.

They struggled to survive but they made it. And their efforts from the 18th century to the present day have rewarded them with an incalculable treasure: La Geria, the wine-growing area par excellence in Lanzarote, a unique countryside, which makes an impact because it is difficult to believe that vineyards can grow in a cesspool, but indeed they do

The local peasants of the island had to make an entire system of holes, protecting each vineyard from the wind with small stone walls, by his hands with the help of camels, their main agricultural tool centuries ago.

The constant work of the farmers generated what the visitor now enjoys in the interior of the island in between San Bartolomé and Yaiza. There are other wine growing areas in Lanzarote, but if there is one that is known and emblematic, La Geria region which is also a Protected Natural Landscape and where on August 15, the Harvest festival is celebrated as a big popular party.

An iconic wine

The volcanic wells with their green ponytail laden with grapes extend to the slopes of the nearest volcanoes. An image built over three centuries by pure adaptation to the terrain and today with benefits that make Lanzarote wine what it is. The volcanic ash that surrounds the plant preserves the moisture from the dew, protects it from the wind, prevents soil erosion and, even, its black colour increases the temperature of the earth, which affects the grape by raising the level of sugars and, therefore, alcohol.

The island has a variety of its own grape, the volcanic malvasia, recognized by the World Wine Agency. Malvasia is perfect to accompany cheeses, wrinkled potatoes, squid or sardines, among other Canarian culinary specialities.

Canary Malvasia wine has been very appreciated since old times. William Shakespeare himself mentioned in Henry IV (Part II, Act II, Scene IV), when Mistress Quickly says to Doll Tearsheet: «but, i´faith you have drunk too many canaries, and that´sa marvelous searching wine, and it perfumes the blood ere one can say: what’s this?»

That happened before the wine transformation of Lanzarote but we can understand how appreciated was the Canary Malvasia on the islands that have been brought and cropped in between San Bartolomé and Yaiza.

And indeed, England helped with the development of viticulture of the malvasia wine in Canary Islands, which its outcome conquered the tables of the aristocracy and royalty gourmets. The English searched for a place far from the Mediterranean, controlled by the Genoese, to import wines. Misfortune befell the islands when the English, in 1703, reached an agreement with the Portuguese and signed the very short “Treaty of Methuen” also known as the “Treaty of Cloths and Wines.” The treaty meant in only three articles a bilateral trade agreement in which Portugal undertook to buy wool from England and gave the Portuguese a series of tax advantages for their wines in exchange. Canarian sweet wine was replaced by Madeira wine and the decline of Canarian wine dragged on for a century during which the production was focused on cheap counterfeits of sweet Madeira wine. In just a century, wine production almost disappeared. We had to wait for the rebirth of production until 20th century, when several winemakers were interested in making quality wines. That included Lanzarote wines, currently an important icon among local quality goods, very much consumed in Canary Islands (only a small portion of the production is exported to Spanish mainland or further) by locals and tourists.

The steps of the route

1- San Bartolomé

We propose to start the route in San Bartolomé, a white town surrounded by amazing hills and volcanos. A walk through the streets of San Bartolomé is the perfect plan to discover the history and culture of this municipality, well-represented by monuments such as the Parish Church, from the 18th century, inside there are an altarpiece and some carvings from the same period. You can find in town the Monument to the Peasant, which represents the typical architecture of the place. It is worth highlighting the sculpture of Fecundity, designed by César Mánrique, in honor of the peasant from Lanzarote. It is worth to visit also the Ajei House of Culture, Tanit Ethnographic Museum and the Casa del Mayor Guerra, a building declared a Site of Cultural Interest that is an important part of the monumental heritage of San Bartolomé.

2- Bodega El Grifo

Bodega El Grifo is the oldest winery on Canary Islands and among the ten oldest in Spain. It was founded in 1775 after the eruptions and it is located in the protected area of La Geria. It is possible to visit the cellar on a 40 minutes guided tour for 15 Euros that includes the museum, their vineyards and a wine tasting.

3- Bodega Stratvs

Bodega Stratvs is modern, awesome and innovative. The winery has been built underground, preserving the original topography of the natural environment. Because of its construction with natural materials from nearby, such as volcanic stone, iron and wood, the winery reduces the negative visual impact on the territory. The environmental care and the advanced technology for the wine elaboration make this winery very interesting for visiting and understanding. Visitors can spot the cellar and taste wines afterwards with some small tapas.

4- Bodegas Rubicón

Bodegas Rubicón is located in an ancient country house mentioned already in official document from the 16th Century. Only for that would be worth to go for a visit. It is possible to visit the cellar and the house itself including a cute library, some rooms and a white patio. The wines are excellent and you can taste them one by one for a fair price and get outside with your glass to admire Ermita de la Caridad, a nice little white church, while you drink with your friends. We recommend to order a selection of white wines and start drinking from the driest to the sweetest.  

5- Bodega La Geria

Bodega La Geria is a classic in the Lanzarote brands. Always worth and trustworth. It is possible to make a simple visit and to buy wines in the inner store, enjoy its tavern or even sit outside to admire the spectacular black volcanic landscape with green vineyards in their fortified walls splashed around. If you want more information about the winery you can book on their webpage a 40 minutes guided visit for 9 Euros.  

6- Uga

Uga is one of the small white charming towns in Lanzarote. From the road the visitor has the chance of taking the perfect picture of an iconic village of Lanzarote. You can expect from there a quiet life, nice traditional Canary architecture and proximity (it is only two kilometers from Yaiza and very close to the Timanfaya National Park) to amazing spots in Lanzarote. Its central square and the Church of San Isidro Labrador are the epicenter of the town. In its streets, the white houses contrast with the volcanic environment. The palm trees and the gray of the surroundings are other of its most distinctive features. Indeed, the time seems to have been stopped there. Moreover… Uga is still the home to almost all the dromedary on the island, which leave every morning very early in their procession to Timanfaya and, beyond the tourism, the inhabitants of Uga are mainly engaged in agricultural and livestock activities.

Uga

7- Yaiza

Yaiza is a desert for this route, a final reward. The town of Yaiza is located on the edge of the area buried by the volcanic eruptions of 1730 and 1736. It is one of the best preserved towns in the Canary archipelago. Consequently, it has some beautification awards. The visitor perceives when passing between its streets and houses that are extremely well cared for and decorated with a variety of plants and flowers. In front of the town hall there is the parish of Nuestra Señora de los Remedios, patron saint of the municipality, whose festival is celebrated on September 8. Yaiza stands out among the island’s towns for its careful landscaping and its respect for traditional architecture. Don’t miss its Plaza de la Alameda and check the diversity of bars to spend nice time in the local beauty,

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