For a small Island there is certainly plenty for anyone interested in viticulture.
I personally do not pretend to be knowledgeable about the types of grapes and different wines. In fact I am not a great wine drinker. I have always preferred beer!
In summer on a hot evening I may indulge in a vino de verano which is a mix of red wine and lemonade or soda water served on many occasions in pint glasses with lots of ice. It’s a very refreshing tipple.
Maybe I should start at the beginning of wine growing on El Hierro. It all started back in the 16th Century during the English Renaissance and El Hierro can thank 2 Englishmen called Thomas Nichols and his friend John Hill for first introducing vines to the Island. It has built up from these humble beginings.
In one of the local supermarkets the other day I found 13 different bottles of wines all made on the Island. I got strange looks with my shopping basket full. (A big thankyou to Terencio’s for allowing me to photograph them without having to buy them all)
This though is not all of them. I know of at least 26 different varieties from all over the Island, and these are just the Bodegas that actually bottle their wine. (I apologise if there are more I’ve missed)
There are three main growing areas on the Island. El Pinar, La Frontera and Echedo, which falls within the district of Valverde.
Each district has its own distinct growing conditions, allowing different varieties of grapes to be grown.
In this district you can find wine on sale from 5 different Bodegas. Though, one of them, no longer produces wine.
I have only ever seen a red wine from them, which over the years has been awarded many prizes for the best young red wines.
A family run business selling red wines and Rose wines
A wine which is readily available on the Island. They seem to seem a white wine, a red wines and a red baboso wine.
This is one of the vineyards I have visited on the Island, the last time being on a large annual walking excursion. They produce a white and red wine along with a specialised red baboso wine.
This is the Bodega that no longer seems to be producing wine. There 2011 bottles are available in many places with either a blue or pink cap. The strongest of the two being made from the beboso negro grape at 14.5% volume and the other, made from the vijariego negro grape at 14% volume. This wine has always been one of the more expensive wines from the Island
In this district there only seems to be just the 1 bodega selling wines:
I can find three varieties from the Bodega. A semi sweet white wine, a dry white wine, and a semi sweet Rose wine.
A popular drink in many of the local bars and restaurants.
This valley seems to produce the widest selection of wines on the Island. And is the area most associated with wine growing
Again there are quite a few small Bodegas selling just one type of wine. This includes:-
They just produce a white wine.
Bodega H M Las Vetas (La Bodega de Maruca y Herminio)
This bodega in Sabinosa produces just one wine which has won numerous awards in recent wine tasting events throughout the Canary Islands and beyond. Again this wine is a little pricier than some of the others and of limited supply. Well worth a try though
Bodega Uwe an ecological vineyard
Uwe’s Bodega is completely different to most of the others I have ever visited. The main reason being he runs it all ecologically. Yes the vines and the grapes look no different to any other vineyard. They are all in the rows on the hillside to take advantage of the afternoon sun. It is only when you go behind the scenes, as I had the privilege of doing one night that you see things are different. There are no oak barrels in the Bodega. Just tall shining stainless steel tanks line the walls, all clamped tightly shut with hydrometers on the front. All in complete contrast the normal dusty barrels you would expect to see in the cobweb ridden cellars.
He produces both a white (blanco) and a red (tinto) wine. Both very nice, with a slice of local cheese and bread. (I would have liked to drink more, but I had to drive home L)
Lastly we have the Cooperativa Frontera
This is the main collection point for many of the wine growers who don’t produce sufficient stock to make bottling it worth their while. These are the wines most people realise are from the Island.
When I first came to the Island I remember there being only 3, a dry white, a semi sweet white and a red wine. In those days the comments were not always favourable.
I have to say though that things have moved along in the last 25 years and now they produce many prize winning wines. I can now find 8 different wines of varying prices from them.
The white wines include the original dry white wine (Blanco Seco) and of course the white fruity semi sweet wine (Blanco afrutado) which is a favourite of many and usually sells out the quickest each year.
They also do a sweet wine called Vino Gran Salmor. I find this a little too sweet, but it is great with desserts.
They do a Rose wine called Vino Frontero Rosado.
I can now find a choice of 4 different red wines. These being:
Tinto Tradicional (the traditional red wine)
Tinto dulce (a sweet red wine)
Babosa Tinto. There seems to be a wine from them to suit all tastes.
And what about the beer I hear you ask. Do not panic, we now have our very own micro-brewery on the island in La Frontera.
Kuf Kuf Cerveza Artesanal
They are just a very small unit and do not produce an excessive amount of beer, but what they do is very palatable and Moorish.
They produce three beers at the moment.
Kuf Kuf with a red cap or red logo, Kuf Kuf with a blue cap or blue logo, which they say is the most difficult to obtain and lastly Doña Pasión
There is a roasted flavour to these beers. At the moment you can only buy it in bottles and in just a few of the local bars on the Island, La Casa Abajo sport & coffee, Casa Pucho Don Din 2 and Canary Burger.
The recipe is a big secret, but long may it last.
For those of you keen to learn more and take a wine tasting tour you might be interested to know that these are available through D O El Hierro at their offices at Casa del Aguardiente in La Frontera.
There are two options, a wine tasting only, or a wine tasting and tapas. Both last about 2 hours. Minimum number of persons per chat is 10, with a maximum group of 30. For more information contact: -