Old Strain, new generation
The trunk is called vine and the whole plant is called vine, so a vineyard is a plantation of vines. An old vine (or old vine) is one in which the vine plant is more than thirty years old. These plants have a thicker trunk (the vine) and, once ripe, reduce their production, producing fewer clusters and smaller grapes.
Old vines are highly valued, their value has increased in recent years in the wine world and it is a luxury and an added value of the wines that are born from these old vines.
The fact that a wine comes from old vines has an added value. This is why, increasingly, the words “old vines” are seen on bottle labels as a synonym of quality and distinction.
The arrival of vines in the Canary Islands dates back to the arrival of the first European settlers who, in the 15th century, disembarked with vines that they planted on the islands. In Tenerife, the vine arrived in 1497, as the writings of the time attribute the cultivation of the first plant to the Portuguese Fernando de Castro.
The first golden age of Canary Island wine was in the 16th century. The sweet wines of Malvasía, known as Canary Island wines, became a reference (world famous personalities such as George Washington, Robert Morris, Benjamin Franklin, King Charles III, Horatio Nelson, among others, expressed their interest in Canary Island Malvasías) and became an important source of fundamental income.
Today Tenerife has eleven denominations of origin for its wines, after the first ones were created in the 1980s. Due to its unique orography and territorial isolation, a singular identity has been preserved in its wines. It is not for nothing that the Canary Islands never suffered from the great world plague of phylloxera, which devastated European vineyards after the introduction of vines from the United States in the 19th century. This plague caused the reduction or disappearance of many grape varieties, which survived only in the Archipelago. Some of the varieties are: listán blanco and listán negro, which are the most cultivated white and black varieties in the islands, gual, (which came from Madeira), malvasía aromática, which in late harvest grapes produces sweet wine. There is in Anaga, pink malvasia (characteristic of the Anaga area), also found, among other varieties, the negramoll. albillo criollo, vijariego, verdelló, castellana negra, baboso negro… For this reason, we speak of unique wines in the Canary Islands: the grapes come from vineyards extinct in the rest of Europe that survived in the archipelago and that, in addition, evolved with crosses between them giving rise to exclusive varieties of the Islands, preserving in the Canary Islands an unparalleled varietal heritage.
The orography of Tenerife means that in just a few kilometers distance you can go from coastal crops to high altitude crops. The climate on the different slopes of the island produces drier and sunnier areas in the south and more humid areas in the north. In Anaga we can still see how the old terraces of wine constructions are presented in several areas, terraces worked by man generation after generation and that in addition to the problem posed by climate change, is another of the issues that plagues the production. There is no generational replacement that can make this knowledge and this knowledge of agriculture last.
That is why today it is especially important to focus on locally produced wine. There are young winegrowers who struggle with great enthusiasm to undertake different projects to continue with the legacy of this rich Eden, both in varieties, endemism and exclusivity. A new generation, taking care of the old vines.