Let´s get back to vines and wine and forget for a moment the idea of holidays in Lanzarote at all inclusive resorts seated next to the pool enjoying sea views.
So we have an island where strong hot winds dry the grapes and destroy the hope of any winemaker. The alisios winds from the west are not so strong in Lanzarote as in other islands of the archipelago (mainly Fuerteventura) but strong enough when combined with the north winds to destroy any harvest. As mentioned above, local growers scoop hollows in the volcanic ash (hoyos) or build cairns around the vines to protect them, or simply do both things at the same time. The vines, as you can imagine, are planted a good distance from one another. Yields as you have rightly guessed are very low. Rainfall is as low as 150 millimeters a year and moisture comes from ailisios winds mainly and is retained by the ash. There is only one DO in Lanzarote, divided in three sub-regions: Tinajo-San Bartolome in the centre, Haria-Ye in the north and La Geria in the south near the town of Yaiza. This is the most spectacular area and the valley here is simply amazing. Make sure you pay it a visit (and yes, get a break from the easy live of your pool at the Lanzarote resort where you stay!)
Vine has been harvested in Lanzarote since the mid 18th century only. This is later than other islands like La Palma or Tenerife where wine production started during the XVth century. Listan negro and Negro Comun are the tow red wine varieties in Lanzarote. Listan blanca and Malvasia are the main white grapes, with other local varieties like Diego and Burra Blanca also planted. Moscatel is also planted.
Yields are very low in Lanzarote with hardly 1,000 litres per hectare (compared for instance to Rioja with over 6,000 liters) Vines are very old, with many over 100 years.
Most production used to be dedicated to sweet wines and a mixture of muscatel and Malvasia has traditionally been used for that purpose. But market trends have moved growers and wineries into dry wines.
The island consumes 4 times the amount of wine that is produced locally. As we have discussed already, most wine served at hotels and resorts is from major Spanish brands, whilst local wines are best found at restaurants. The best known local winery is El Grifo, with affordable wines and daily tours to enjoy the miracle of local wine production in volcanic soils.