Lanzarote Vineyards: The Magic of Black Gardens

Image Credit:Iñaki Queralt/Flickr

La Geria is a unique cultural landscape in Lanzarote, Spain. Semi-circular stonewalls protect verdant vines from the relentless blowing trade winds. Even at a first glance you can’t help it to be impressed by this almost endless land that’s covered by black ash and volcanoes.

The fact that every spot where the vines grow was created about 250 years ago by mere human hands and each vine yields up to 25 kilograms of grapes a year although it hardly rains makes the place seem like a miracle.

Image Credit:Lobo Estepario/FlickrImage Credit:PepeLuz/Flickr

The “Paisaje Protegido” – protected landscape – La Geria covers around 5,250 hectares, of which about 3,000 acres are cultivated. This cultural landscape has an interesting history – during volcanic eruptions (1730 to 1736) the whole region was covered in lava ash that’s also called: lapilli, rofe or picón.

Image Credit:GanMed64 /FlickrImage Credit:Penjelly/FlickrImage Credit Flickr User F Sancha

Thousands of hectares of fertile farmland were lost under up to three meters thick layers of ash. After the volcanoes had ceased to rumble, the islanders began to dig holes until they came upon fertile soil in areas where the lapilli was thin.

(c) Chris Hopkins Images

They planted vines and fruit trees and quickly realized that the ash was a blessing in disguise. The lapilli is porous and has hygroscopic (water-attracting) properties. Even if doesn’t rain a lot in Lanzarote the early morning hours are very humid and allows the ash to store the morning dew.

Image Credit:penjelly/Flicrk

The pits were the vines are dug have to be five meters in diameter and 2-3 meters deep and also need a lot of space. The roots spread out in a wide circle near the surface to be able to absorb as much water as possible.

Image Credit:PepeLuz/Flickr

The range of wines from La Geria includes the traditional Lanzarote wines Malvasia, Listán Negra and Moscatel. A particularly great one is the “Manto” from the year 2007.

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