El Grifo Wine Museum
The El Grifo Wine Museum gives tourists a real taste of island history. As well as a fascinating insight into the unique methods of viniculture employed on Lanzarote. And is housed in the oldest bodega in the Canary Islands – dating back to 1775.
History of Viniculture
Wine production has long been centrally important to the economy of the island – and boasts a rich heritage – as vines have been under cultivation on Lanzarote for at least 500 years. In fact, back in the 16th and 17th centuries sweet Canarian Malvasia wine was one of Europe´s top tipples.
Regarded by the cognoscenti as the ´Nectar of the Gods´ bottles of malmsey or sack (as it was more widely known then) graced the tables of European Kings and Queens and was fulsomely praised by no-less a PR man than William Shakespeare. Who had something of a vested interest in promoting the stuff as he enjoyed an annual allowance from the Crown of 268 gallons – in appreciation for his role as poet laureate.
Europe´s Top Tipple
By the end of the 17th century exports of Malvasia had reached record levels – with some six million litres heading into Northern European ports such as Amsterdam and London. Where this highly regarded beverage commanded a premium price over wines from other climes.
Today, the Malvasia grape is still grown on Lanzarote – and underpins the wide range of wines that are created by the El Grifo bodega, the largest winery on Lanzarote (and the second biggest in the whole of the Canary Islands). Where anything up to 700,000 litres a year are produced both for domestic consumption and for export around the world.
Award Winning Wines
Indeed El Grifo wines still garner plaudits from those in the know – picking up prestigious awards such as a Gold Medal for their beautifully packaged fortified wine, Canari, at the 2007 International Wine and Spirit Championship in London (the Oscars of the wine world).
And a silver medal for their Rose in the heart of pink country at Le Mondial de Rose in Cannes (a major achievement given the quantity and quality of the home-grown competition).
Secrets of Success
So how has a once relatively small player in the world of wines managed to pull off such a feat? Especially as the bodega was only founded some 40 years after most of Lanzarote´s wine region was covered in layers of lava by the volcanic eruptions of 1730-1736.
The answers can all be found within the walls of the El Grifo Wine Museum – where highly knowledgeable and multil lingual guides provide visitors with a fascinating insight into the bodegas production methods and innovative philosophy.
Under the Influence of César Manrique
The Wine Museum was developed under the aegis of the ubiquitous island born artist and architect César Manrique around eighteen years ago. Along with the bodegas highly distinctive griffin logo. And is divided into a number of zones in what was once the estates bodega – enabling visitors to gain a step by step insight into the production process from grape to glass.
For example, in the El Lagar area guests find out how grapes have been pressed here over the centuries – using a variety of different types of weird and wonderful machinery – some ancient examples of which date back hundreds of years. Amongst them a massive giant beam screw press, called El Husillo.
Whist in El Bodegon we find out how wines were stored and fermented in massive limestone tanks – which are now used to display a fine array of wine making machinery and gadgetry, such as pumps, corking machines and copper stills.
All of these exhibits are set against the backdrop of a fantastic example of Canarian architecture, featuring thick white washed walls and wooden ceilings that are hundreds of years old.
To the delight of guests each tour concludes with a tasting. Allowing visitors to sample the wine of their choice from the bodegas portfolio of thirteen different varieties.
The most popular of which is the dry white or seco – reflecting current day preferences for dry over sweet wines. Although visitors who are really keen to sample a taste of tradition can also enjoy sweet or semi-sweet Malvasia wines that are very close cousins to those once enjoyed by Shakespeare and the aristocracy of Europe.
Guided tours take place every day at the following fixed times: 11.00, 11.30, 12.00, 12.30, 13.00, 15.00, 15.30, 16.00, 16.30 and 17.00. And visitors can choose from two tour packages. The standard tour costs €3 per person and features one free tasting. Whilst the superior tour costs €5 per person and features a more in-depth tasting session, featuring five wines, cheese and crackers.
Open : Seven days a week, 10.30 to 18.00
Telephone :: 0034 928 524951
How To Get There
The El Grifo Wine Museum is three kilometres away from the landmark of the Monumento al Campesino. Follow the LZ30 from the Monumento – which is located just outside San Bartolome – and follow the road in the direction of Masdache, Uga and La Geria. The Museum is clearly signposted on your right hand side.