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Where are the highest vineyards in Europe? Switzerland? Not at all!

In fact, they are on the slopes of the highest mountain in Spain, El Teide, the active volcano that dominates the island of Tenerife in the Canaries off the coast of Africa.

The privileged geographical situation of the Canaries, as a joining point of three continents, favoured merchants, pirates and adventurers to discover and spread the delights of the Canarian wines. Particularly outstanding was the delicious Malvasía wine.

 wines in tenerife

Canary islands has No fewer than 10 different official wine appellations, one for each island – Lanzarote, La Palma, Gran Canaria, El Hierro, La Gomera – except for Tenerife, which has been divided into five more.

They do not exactly trip off the tongue: Tacoronte-Acentejo, Abona (home to the highest vineyards at 1,600 m above the Atlantic), Ycoden Daute Isora, Valle de la Orotava and Valle de Güimar.

The first grape fruit plants arrived on the island in the XV century with the Spanish conquerors and European colonizers, and thanks to the variety of its origins, the best wine stocks were introduced in the Canaries from Europe, which explains the variety richness existing on the islands.

More fascinating facts about Canary Island wines…

The phylloxera aphid is yet to invade the island’s vineyards so, most unusually, all vines grow on their own roots rather than being grafted on to phylloxera-resistant rootstocks.

The vines bear witness to the history and geography of islands that were important staging posts on maritime trading routes, and were Spain’s last acquisition, with a considerable Portuguese population and many an expatriate link nowadays to Cuba and South America.

Historians and writers of the time made many references to Canary wine, including those made by Sir William Shakespeare through his different characters and literary descriptions, mainly through Falstaff, who he calls the “barrel of Canary”, and Sir Walter Scott in “Ivanhoe”. The following is a quote from Shakespeare´s “Henry IV part II” – act 2, scene 4 – when Mistress Quickly says to Doll Tearsheet: “But i faith, you have drunk too much canaries and that´s a marvellous searching wine, and it perfumes the blood ere one can say: What´s this?”.

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