Recently I wrote about the village of El Golfo in the south of Lanzarote. A stunning village that’s home to the green lagoon. My next snippet about Lanzarote is all about a trip to Bodegas El Grifo. One of the largest wineries on the island they have been in operation since 1755. Having recently passed my WSET Level 2 Wines and Spirits, there was no way I was going to miss out on discovering a bit about the history of wine in Lanzarote.
Despite the conditions the island has a thriving wine business among the black volcanic ash. Bodegas, by the way is the Spanish for winery and El Grifo translates to ‘tap’. So in lay mans terms it means the wine is flowing. Bodegas El Grifo is a working winery but they also have a wine museum attached to it. There are a couple of different tours you can avail of. A self guided tour at €5 per person which includes a glass of wine at the end. For two people there is an option of €15 which includes tasting six wines and a cheese platter to share. You can also opt for a guided tour if you wish. Tours run Monday to Sunday with the last entry at about 4p.m.
The Challenges of Wine Growing
Cultivating a successful crop of grapes on the sunny island of Lanzarote is no easy task. The average rainfall is 150mm which is just under 6 inches. In Santa Barbara (a popular wine region) in California for example the average is 19 inches a year. The volcanic terrain however goes some way to reducing the impact. A layer of lava gravel prevents evaporation.
The island is also open to a constant barrage of trade winds. Many of the vineyards build semi circular wind breakers around vines using the local volcanic rock. You will also see these scattered along the beaches on the islands. Although you will need to bring your own wine to those ones !
Bodegas El Grifo gives visitors a snapshot into the history of wine making in Lanzarote. One of the oldest wine museums in the Canary Island/Spain, it is in the protected area of ‘La Geria’ which covers over 5,200 hectares. The area was covered in volcanic lava and ash back in the 1700s when volcanic eruptions were common on the island.
The museum is open from 10.30 a.m. to 18.00 p.m. seven days a week. An extremely popular visitor attraction, up to 60,000 people visit it each year. Inside the museum you will find vintage wine presses, pumps, crushers and stills. At the end of the tour you are welcome to browse the on site wine shop and of course indulge in some tasting. If you are in Lanzarote and enjoy a glass of wine then Bodegas El Grio is well worth a visit. The pictures below will give you an idea of what to expect on your visit.