Unique among European viticulture, the wines of the Canary Islands are ungrafted, meaning they grow on their own ancient root stocks. Wine from Las Islas Canarias has been held in high esteem since at least the time of Shakespeare (he mentions “Canary” wine in five plays), yet only recently have bottles washed up on our shores. This windswept volcanic archipelago off the coast of Africa consists of seven main islands, five of which have one appellation each for wine. Tenerife, the largest island has five more. Indigenous grapes grown in black lava are made into white, rosé and red wines that deliver rich minerality and touches of seaborne salinity.
Where to Dine
In Tenerife, Terrazas del Sauzal serves up grilled seafood and meats, accompanied by wines from the Canaries and the Spanish mainland. Enjoy them while taking in panormas of the sea and the volcano, Mount Teide. A wide selection of Lanzarote wine is poured alongside Spanish and international specialties at Lani’s Restaurant & Café, which features a glamorous sea-view terrace. At Restaurante Ribera del Rio Miño, on Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Galician cuisine and wines that span the globe are served in a classic dining room.
Where to Stay
On Gran Canaria, Gloria Palace San Augustin Thalasso & Hotel is a luxurious seafront resort. Its Basque restaurant offers panoramic views, plus the hotel offers a more casual dining option and several bars, as well as a full-service spa. Hotel San Roque (Tenerife) is located inside a historic manor house. The rooms are decorated with contemporary furniture and art. San Roque’s restaurant offers local and Mediterranean cuisine paired with native, Spanish and international wines.
Strong winds and rocky beaches limit sunbathing to hotel pools, but you can explore lush forests and eerie volcanic terrain by mountain bike or foot. The best golf courses are on Tenerife and Gran Canaria, while links are also found on Lanzarote, La Gomera and Fuerteventura.
Artist César Manrique’s home and museum at Lanzarote showcases the intersection of traditional architecture and modern art. Manrique’s studio has been left intact, and other artists’ works are exhibited on a rotating basis.
When to Go
Visit in the spring and fall, when temperatures are at their best.
Indigenous grapes grown in black lava are made into white, rosé and red wines that deliver rich minerality.
Where to Taste
On Tenerife, Casa del Vino is a wine museum that includes exhibits, a vine garden, tasting room and restaurant. Bodegas Suertes del Marques offers majestic rolling vineyards at altitudes up to 2,400 feet. A rustic tasting room pours 13 wines made with indigenous varieties. At Bodegas Monje, where the Monje family has made wines since 1750, there is a variety of tasting and dining options, including 15 wines made from local varieties. On Gran Canaria, Bodega Los Berrazales serves dry and semi-sweet wines. This family-run finca grew oranges and coffee before grapes were planted. The winery and tasting room at Bodega Vega de Gáldar is a converted farmhouse and stable, while its vineyards were once the grounds of a convent. Bodegas El Grifo in Lanzarote is the oldest winery in the Canary Islands and said to be among the 10 oldest in Spain.
Indigenous varieties reign on the Canary Islands, including two strains of Albillo and at least three different native Malvasia grapes. Other white grapes that flourish here but are known by different names elsewhere include Listan Blanco (Palomino Fino in Jerez), Verdello and Gual (Verdelho and Boal in Madeira, respectively). The most widely planted red grape is Listán Negro—it’s the famed Mission grape brought to the Americas by Spanish missionaries. While sweet wine has been made here for centuries, dry wines are now more in favor, signifying that Canary winemaking is entering the modern era.
Local in the Know
Roberto Santana, the winemaker and cofounder of Envínate, says, “It’s always surprising to see the different landscapes in Teide National Park. You can hike in nearby Anaga Rural Park, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve with very old vineyards that have been preserved for centuries. I also like to hike down the ravines of the Masca Gorge, where the beach can only be reached on foot or by boat. You can hike down and then take a boat ride back to the town of Los Gigantes.”