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Canary Islands

Spain


The Canary Islands are actually an archipelago that sits some 70 miles off Morocco’s west coast. They are the property of Spain and exist under a great deal of Spanish influence and its attitude toward modern-day winemaking. The Canaries as they are called, also have a long and somewhat distinguished past relating to wine.

The fact that the Canary Islands sit at their position in the Atlantic Ocean is fortunate due to the fact that for many centuries naval trade routes crossed their path making their wines accessible to a number of European countries, and especially nowadays through Spain. For centuries, the region produced a sweetish Malmsey wine that was made from the Malvasia grape that was a favorite of the British, Dutch and Germans.

Today, the Canary Islands produce wines that are more favorable to modern tastes; dry, acidic wines that have become very fashionable in a number of top European wine markets. To understand the complexity of the wine industry in the Canary Islands it is necessary to review the actual history of the archipelago.

Early sailors and explorers visited the islands starting in the 14th century. Spanish conquest began in 1402 and was finalized between 1478 and 1496 by the Crown of Castile. Most Spanish galleons attempting to reach the New World stopped in the Canaries to avail themselves of favorable trade winds. The Portuguese conquered the Island of Gomera in 1420 and held it for almost 60 years.

In 1599 a Dutch fleet of 74 ships attacked the capital of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria with some success. Some 17 years later, Barbary Pirates attacked and took 1000 captives as slaves. The British attacked in 1797 but were repulsed. It is also true that Spanish influence (and rule) continued through the 18th and 19th Centuries and Spanish winemaking and Spanish grape varietals dominated the vineyards.

The winegrowing techniques used throughout the Canary Islands are among the most unique and improvised in the entire wine world. In many instances, stone block walls are constructed to protect the vineyards from the terroristic heated winds that flow off the African continent on a regular basis. Without this protection, few of the vineyards would be able to survive.

The problematic growing environment that constitute the Canary Islands continues to be one of the more compelling within the wine world. The tenacity and perseverance that are necessary for growers worldwide, are everyday factors for Canarian farmers. Hats off to this incredible band of wine cultivators, and let their wines speak for themselves!

We are excited to be one of - if not the only - wine club to feature these elusive islands and their fantastic wines! Discover 3 different wines from 2 of the 8 Canary Islands in our International Wine Club!


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