Located off the coast of Morocco, you will find the most fascinating archipelago of islands known as the Spanish Canary Islands. Two theories exist on the name, the first is obvious, as this is one of the places the original canary (Serinus canaria) was found, and the other less obvious from the Latin word “Canaria” that means dog.  Since the Romans called seals “sea-dogs” and the islands that were once populated with seals.

The Canary Islands were formed through a series of volcanic eruptions that occurred over 30 million years ago when the American and African tectonic plates were moving away from each other.  As the magma come through the fissures on the ocean floor, it created an underwater plateau known as the Canary Ridge [1500 km long and 100 km wide], which eventually emerged from the sea as the eight islands we know today [Tenerife, Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, La Palma, La Gomera, El Hierro and La Graciosa].

This volcanic activity has had a profound impact on the island’s environment creating rugged mountains, gorgeous beaches, lunar landscapes but also a unique ecosystem of plants and animals found nowhere else in the world.  But who would have thought that this hostile environment would be the perfect place to grow grapes and make amazing wines?  Non crazier than the vineyards on Lanzarote where the vines grow in volcanic ash known as picón.  The picón acts as a natural mulch, protecting the vines from the sun and helping to retain moisture in the soil. The vines are planted in small, circular holes that are dug into the picón, creating a unique micro-climate that is ideal for grape growing.  The primary grape variety grown in Lanzarote is the Malvasia grape, which is used to produce both white and sweet wines. The Malvasia grape has been cultivated on the island since the 16th century and was Shakespeare’s favourite wine. [fun fact: Bodegas El Grifo was founded in 1775 and still makes wine] .  The wines of Lanzarote are a testament to the ingenuity of winemakers and the resilience of nature.