For the beauties of nature and nice wines
La Palma is another of the Canary Islands, where you will find beautiful nature, volcanic landscape, lush vegetation, mountains, steep cliffs, hidden beaches and above all vines. In contrast to neighboring Tenerife, La Palma still maintains the status of an island, on which there is not much increase in accommodation capacity and the influx of tourists is thus regulated. It is known in a much quieter environment.
Vine and island wine
The first vines began to be grown here sometime around 1505 in the settlements of Spanish immigrants. The location of the Canary Islands seems unsuitable for this purpose, there are practically the southernmost vineyards in the northern hemisphere. In fact, the climate is significantly influenced by a convenient location in the Atlantic with optimal rainfall and a pleasant temperature, which in winter usually does not fall below 15 degrees during the night and does not rise above 27 degrees during the day in summer. The volcanic subsoil is also unique, so the cultivation of vines and the production of quality wines has its own tradition here. It is a pity that these wines are not commonly available in the Czech Republic, unlike neighboring Germany, not to mention exports to the USA. The island of La Palma is divided into three areas in terms of wine production. The Hoyo de Mazo zone occupies the eastern part of the island. The vines here are usually „crawling“ on volcanic rocks and tuff without any guidance, which we are usually used to from us. He is thus in direct contact with the ground. Typical varieties here are Negramoll (blue variety) and Listán Blanco (white variety). The beautiful full body of the wines will surprise you with its fruitiness and lightness. The Fuencaliente zone extends from south to southwest. Here, too, the vines are mostly „crawling“ over the terrain, which is mainly formed by volcanic ash. The most important varieties here are Malvasía, Listán Blanco and Bujariego. The most famous is probably the first of them, although the wine from the Malvásia variety usually falls into the category of semi-sweet to sweet. The north zone, the vine, is usually guided in various ways, eg by a kind of roof of the top wires or rods, or it is tied into different shapes and again guided by the top wires. The varietal composition is the most interesting from my subjective point of view and consists mostly of the species Negramoll, Listán Prieto, Albillo and Almuňeco. I must admit that the wines from the north were the most beautiful for me, but I do not want to underestimate the previous areas. In addition, it is possible to taste a real wine rarity. This is Vino de Tea, which is created by training in barrels made of endemic Canarian pine wood. It is definitely not Greek retsina, but the characteristic tone of the resin and the aroma of the needles makes these wines a fantastic experience. La Palma offers lovers of fine wines many experiences that can be combined with exploring the beautiful nature.
Arrival at La Palma
The journey by plane takes about 5 hours in the case of a direct flight from Germany. However, there are usually no direct flights from the Czech Republic, everything will be extended to somewhere else. According to the flight route, we can look forward to a view of the largest of the Canary Islands, Tenerife, with the dominant stratovolcano Pico de Teide (3817 m above sea level). Another flight route can take us above the northern part of Tenerife – the Anaga mountains with a rugged coastline full of cliffs. From here it is only a few minutes to the destination.
Hoyo de Mazo Winery
Our base is just north of Los Cancajos Airport. From here we go south on the LP-2 road and in the village of Callejones we turn left to the parking lot, which is dominated by a nice dragon. The local winery currently offers a total of 7 different wines from the surrounding localities: 3 red, 4 white. Without exception, these are Listán Blanco and Negramoll in price ranges from 4.50 EUR per bottle. We look into the cellars, where there are both wooden barrels and new stainless steel technologies. Photography is prohibited.
We continue to the very south of the island to the area of Fuencaliente (Los Canarios). The biggest tourist attraction here is the volcano San Antonio (677 m above sea level). From its edge is a nice view of the entire south coast with an apocalyptic volcanic landscape. From a wine-growing point of view, there are attractive vineyards with vines crawling on individual terraces along volcanic ash. So hurry to some winemaker…
In 1677, the eruption of San Antonio volcano covered this area of the island with volcanic ash. Around 1690, local farmers decided to start growing vines there. Carballo winery benefits from a long tradition, the great-grandfather of today's owner Eliseo Carballo Pérez already exported his wines to America. Today's flagship is without a doubt white Malvasía, a naturally sweet wine with aromas of peaches and exotic fruits. However, the fuller Gual, Verdello and Bastardo are definitely worth tasting. Pleasant fruit wines are made from the local Negramoll and Bujariego varieties. The winery is easy to find near the turnoff to San Antonio Volcano.
The eastern and western part of the island is connected in its center by the LP3 road, which after many bends bites into a mountain ridge and takes us to another world after a long tunnel. Very often there is fog on the eastern slopes, or a small mist, while behind the tunnel there is a beautiful sunny weather. After overcoming the mentioned tunnel, we turn left onto the very narrow mountain road LP301 and stop in the area of large black areas, green Canarian pines and especially beautiful views of the typical overflowing clouds, traveling from the east and miraculously dissolving behind the Cumbre Nueva ridge.
Las Manchas Wine Museum
We continue along the main road LP3 and after descending beyond the town of El Paso we turn onto the road LP2. In Las Manchas, there is a right turn behind the petrol station, which descends to the wine museum. On the two floors of the red building we find an exhibition on the history of vine growing in La Palma, stylish barrels, in the garden behind the house samples of different varieties and the interior of a traditional wine cellar with the necessary equipment.
Pico de la Nieve
It is pleasant to combine wine experiences with overcoming tourist destinations. We take the LP4 road to a height of 1880 m above sea level to the place where the carriageway with the Pico de la Nieve sign turns left. It is intended only for off-road cars and ends at a forest hut on the upper edge of a pine forest. From here we climb a narrow path to the eastern ridge of the Caldera de Taburiente to the aforementioned peak, 2239 m above sea level. It's Saturday, and it's a day when local hunters go fishing. There is a shooting around…
Santa Cruz de la Palma
There are many opportunities for culinary experiences in the island's capital. The rest day can be started in the car park by the port, where a flea market is held every Sunday from 09:00. Among all possible assortment we find a guy with things from the former USSR (Proletarians of all countries, unite…). The local specialty is Cafe Barraquito, coffee with condensed milk (usually Cafe Cortado), but also with rum.
The northeastern part of the island is not a typical wine region, but has a different charm. We set off from Los Cancajos, partly cloudy, behind the capital it is cloudy and in the north there is a light rain. That's why there is also nice vegetation. After Roque Faro we descend from the main road LP1 to the coast to the village of El Tablado. So this is where time really stopped. Many old buildings, dragon trees and dreamy views of the north coast and the ocean, over which the rain alternates with the sun, are breathtaking. The biggest surprise is the descent into perhaps the most beautiful gorge of the island, Barranco Fagundo. Succulents crawl along the lava walls of picturesque shapes and the Atlantic storms below. I warmly recommend.
We return to the south of the island. We descend steeply from the San Antonio volcano and then climb the Teneguía volcano in some open terrain. There is quite a strong gust of wind at the top, trekking poles are suitable. In the landscape full of volcanic ash there are terraces and areas of vines, the greenery of which contrasts pleasantly with the black background.
This relatively large winery is named after the volcano of the same name and is in the center of Los Canarios (Fuencaliente). We stop there after overcoming the mentioned volcano. As has already been written here, the best Malvasia wines come from the local „Llanos Negros“, the black volcanic ash of the San Antonio volcano. Malvasia is the pride of this winery. However, as is the case with large companies, many of its wines come from grapes grown in other areas of La Palma.
From Los Canarios it is about a 15 minute drive to the south coast of Playa Zamora. Don't expect any modern resort full of tourists. There are mainly Spaniards and locals. Nice place, a bit old-fashioned, with a great bar and free bananas for guests.
From the east of the island to its northwest, it is quite a long journey, at least in time. On the other hand, it is necessary to complete it, nature is great here and you will definitely meet wine as well. Our stop is the small village of Las Tricias. A number of trails and paths descend from it towards the ocean. Absolutely fantastic here are the number of dragons that we pass around several old homesteads.
We climb along a steep gorge and finally stop in the middle of the village in a stylish shop, where the wines of local winemakers are presented. It is possible to taste and buy bottles.
Santo Domingo de Garafía
We continue to tour the northwest of La Palma. In front of Santo Domingo (behind a large football stadium) we turn left onto a narrow road and descend to the parking lot, which is about 150 meters above the ocean. From here we descend steeply the cliffs to Punta y Prois de Santo Domingo – swimming in a natural „pool“ that protects us from the waves of the ocean. In the town of Santo Domingo, we are surprised by the Czech local owners of the restaurant on the square. Petra and Jiří have been running the company here for 3 years (2017). We talk at Cafe Cortado, including local wines.
On the way back south along the west coast, we stop in front of Tijarafe in another large winery. I like their wines, created from vines in positions between 800 and 1500 meters above the ocean. Bodegas Vega Norte's production includes unique and exclusive wines, such as Vino de Tea, trained in Canarian pine barrels („tea“). In the past, it was the most available wood for the production of barrels. The wine has an unmistakable aroma of pine needles and traces of resin in the taste. Some may not love it, but it's definitely worth tasting.
So this is another typical product of the Canary Islands and therefore La Palma. I recommend walking with lush vegetation in large areas such as the northeast of the island at San Andrés or Puntallana. Bananas even have their own museum in Tazacorte.
Further exploration of the island takes us along the LP2 road past Las Manchas. Tamanca winery is located here. First, we examine the interior of the corporate restaurant. Great place for refreshments.
The winery has extensive cellars, where there are both modern stainless steel technologies and a large number of barrels for training, especially red wines. The boss also showed us part of the archive.
Playa de la Veta
The charm of the island is several beaches and places that are accessible only on foot and offers swimming with a minimum of people and relaxation in an attractive natural environment. We go through the tunnel to the west and north of the island. After Tijarafe and in front of the village of Aguatavar, we turn left and descend a rather narrow and sometimes even harder to navigate paved path to the beach de la Veta. From the parking lot it is still about 350 meters to the ocean. Here, too, the locals grow vines, just for their own use.
On the way back, we stop at this lookout, marked by the guides as the best of the whole island. In front of us is the town of Los Llanos, behind it stretches the ridge of the Cumbre Nuevo and to the left a mountain looks down on us, on which we also stood: Pico Bejenado.
Our journey around La Palma is coming to an end. The silhouette of neighboring Tenerife is not visible from the coast every day. But you can find it as a symbol, for example, on Dorada beer, which comes from this island. The beautiful local nature is the main motto that inspires us to visit again. Nice wines only enhance the positive impression. And their few samples adorn the home wine cellar.
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