One of the special features of Gran Canaria is the range of microclimates that can be found in on the island. This means that despite the island's limited size the same grape varieties have a vast range of oenological characteristics. The wines produced here are also particularly special because most of the vines were introduced before phylloxera devastated European vineyards. Stock can therefore be cultivated without resorting to grafting and this has left the island a rich heritage of grape types that is totally unique. Lastly, the mildness of the climate makes it possible to grow vines at all heights and even in the most isolated of areas and this has made viniculture an essential factor in the prevention of desertization, erosion and the general abandonment of rural areas.
Vines were first introduced to the Canary Islands by the Spanish in the 15 th century and in less than fifty years wine-making became an extremely prosperous business. At first it met only local demands but by the mid 16 th century the Canary Islands were exporting wines to England and northern Europe as well as to Portuguese and Spanish colonies in Africa and America. In the 18 th century however, due to the deterioration in Anglo-Spanish relations and a series of administrative and bureaucratic obstacles created by the Spanish “Casa de Contratación” (the supreme authority for imperial commerce) wine production began to falter. In the 19 th century the situation deteriorated still further with the outbreak of two vine diseases, oidium (vine-mildew) and peronospora (oomycete fungus), and then still further with the shift in the island's economy during the 1960's tourist boom. In recent years, however, there has been a consolidated move to revive viniculture, which has now also been recognised as a way of protecting and maintaining the delicate ecological balance on the island. Thanks to the hard work of local producers who have succeeded in combining century-old traditions with up-to-date technology, Gran Canaria wines are now steadily reclaiming their former position.
In the 16 th century the most famous wine exported from the islands was known as Malmsey or simply Canary. Now there are many more types of wine produced here under the authority of the D. O. Gran Canaria. The most common grape varieties are negra común, negramoll, tintilla, moscatel negra, malvasía and listan. This "Denominación de Origen" is responsible for approximately 12 wineries which produce both young reds and whites. These fine wines have already established a firm local market and now they are beginning to be appreciated further and further afield.
The main attraction of Gran Canaria is obviously 'sol y playa' (sun and sand). Thousands of tourists flock here all year round to take advantage of the island's natural beauty, enviable climate and unpolluted seas. Even if most visitors remain on the coast, the interior of the island also has a lot to offer, especially in terms of scenery, which varies from desert-like landscapes to breathtaking mountains and ravines. Between these two extremes stand the time-eternal stone terraces, which seem suspended in time, with their characteristic vineyards, a symbol of the perfect harmony that exists when mankind works with nature and not against it.
Not to be missed is a visit to the “Casa del Vino de Gran Canaria” which, against an unparalleled scenic backdrop, offers visitors a chance to taste the best wines of the island, as well as those of the other Vinest project partners. What's more, the “Ruta del Vino” makes it possible to delve deeper into the winemaking culture of the island, thanks to visits to the wineries and contacts which may be set up with the local producers, as well as through the original “Guagua del Vino”, which has the role of “mobile winery”, promoting island wines both at local and national level.
Apart from these facilities, the Gran Canaria Island Winery, situated in the Municipality of San Mateo , offers the visitor just one more possibility of coming to grips with the winemaking culture of the island ‘on the spot'.