Now that we live in Spain, our goal is to travel to every region in the country looking for the best food and wine. Last fall we visited Gran Canaria in the Canary Islands and immediately became a little infatuated with the wines of the Canary Islands. This Tenerife wine guide focuses on the history of wine industry and the bodegas in Tenerife. And, we share our tips on how to drink local wine in Tenerife.
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Tenerife Wine Guide
The Canary Islands
The Canary Islands include a total of seven Spanish islands off the coast of Africa. The islands are closer to Morocco than they are to Spain. Both Tenerife and Lanzarote are popular destinations for northern Europeans looking to escape the cold in the winter months. We visited Tenerife, though, for the food and wine. Wine is produced on six of the seven islands, notably on Gran Canaria and Lanzarote. Tenerife, though, is the largest wine producer.
When it comes to wine-making regions in Europe, the Canary Islands has to be one of the most extreme regions. It sits at 28-degree latitude, just about the same level as Miami. Imagine decent wine being grown in South Florida? Combine this latitude with a very rugged and mountainous terrain, volcanoes, winds, and lack of water, and one would be surprised to know that decent (and in fact good) Spanish wines are produced in Tenerife. One of the reasons why it offers so much for wine tourists is that few people really know about the wines of the region. I would recommend to any wine lover to explore Tenerife with a focus on the food and wine!
Tenerife is an island of contradictions. The south is warm and tropical and home to some of the most popular beach resorts in Spain. The north is the complete opposite, with mountains and cooler climates. In one week, we wore jackets and scarves in Tenerife North, got sunburn on the top of a volcano, and sweat poolside in the south.
Although part of Spain, Tenerife is influenced by Africa, the Portuguese, and even Venezuela. Tenerife has a unique wine history as well. Its location between Europe and the New World led to it being a needed stop on the trade routes during the 17th and 18th centuries. Even before that, Shakespeare referenced the Canary Islands wine in his Twelfth Night, when a character calls for a “cup of canary.” This makes sense because much of the Tenerife wine was exported to England as part of these trading routes. There is also a connection between Tenerife wine and George Washington, because he preferred the wine to beer during the American Civil War.
Vineyards In Tenerife
Tenerife hosts the highest elevation vineyards in Europe. Some of the vineyards are located in the north of Tenerife around Mount Teide, a volcano that stands over 12,000 feet. Others are located in the south in an almost desert-like environment.
Some of the vineyards have centuries old vines, some of them braided in a horizontal pattern. This horizontal pattern is called cordon trenzado, and it is as though the vines are braided or twisted horizontal to the earth, often times up to six feet long. It is almost as though the defy gravity.
Unique within Spain, the insect phylloxera never made it to the Canary Islands. This means the Tenerife vineyards and vines are some of the oldest in Spain. The isolation of the island is what saved it from the insect plague that destroyed almost 90% of Europe’s vineyards.
Tenerife Wine Varietals
I enjoyed most of the white wines we drank, many of which were light, fruity, or with a strong minerality from the volcanic soil. The island is more known, though, for its reds. The local population tends to drink young reds, which are most popular. There are, though, a few wineries producing aged red wine, predominantly for the export market.
Although it is possible to find international grapes on the island, most Canary Island winemakers focus on indigenous grapes that grow well in volcanic soil, at high altitude, and almost equatorial climate. The most well-known grape in Tenerife is Listán, including Listán Negro, Listán Blanco, and Listán Prieto. Listán Blanco is also known as Palomino Fino, which is the grape that is used to produce Sherry in Andalusia, outside of Seville. Listán Prieto is also grown in Chile and Argentina. Other grapes include Malvasia, Gual, Verdello, and Baboso.
Wine Regions In Tenerife
There are five DOs in Tenerife, or Denominación de Origen. The DO wine regions are ones that are regulated wine classifications under Spanish and European Union laws. It is unusual to have five DOs in such a small geographic zone, but there is a lot of variety in the grapes and the micro-climates around the island.
Tacoronte-Acentejo is in the northeast of the island. This area is known for terraced vineyards and young, easy-drinking red wines. Valle de la Orotava is a valley in the foothills of the Teide volcano. This region is where it is most common to find the cordon trenzado, or braided vineyard pruning system. Ycoden Daute Isora is in the northwest of the island and is one of the most humid parts of the island. Abona is in the south of the island and suffers from the driest conditions – more desert than tropical jungle. Finally, Valle del Güimar is in the central part of Tenerife South.Want to Learn More About Canary Islands Wines? Check out our Gran Canaria Wine Guide
Drinking Local Wine In Tenerife
The thing to know about Tenerife wines is that overall it is a pretty small annual production and very few wineries export. It is even hard for us to find Tenerife wine where we live in Spain. It’s too bad because the wines we drank were fabulous.
That means in order to taste wine from Tenerife, it is best to actually visit the island. Moreover, many travelers to Tenerife tend to stay at the beach resorts instead of exploring the island. For wine lovers traveling to Tenerife, visiting some of the Tenerife bodegas is a great way to spend a morning exploring the island.
There are over 70 bodegas in Tenerife. Many of them are small producers and aren’t able to accept visitors. They are too busy making the wine! There are a few bodegas where it is possible to pop in for a visit.
The best way to visit, though, is to reach out to the winery through their website to make an appointment for a Tenerife wine tour and tasting. Some of the better Tenerife restaurants will also include local wines on their menu. Instead of just ordering a glass of wine, request a glass of wine from Tenerife and drink local!
Recommended Wineries In Tenerife
We visited wineries in three of the five DO regions. We also visited the Tenerife Wine Museum and tasted wines from the other two regions while there.
Bodegas El Lomo in Tegueste in DO Tacoronte-Acentejo
When we pulled up to Bodegas El Lomo I was expecting a fairly humble family-owned winery. I think at one time it was just that. I was stunned once we went behind the scenes to see just how large and expansive their production is. Although only started in the 1980’s, this family-run winery is producing top-notch wines with a focus on the Listan grapes.
Although in the past they produced a variety of wines, they are focusing now on a Listan Blanco, a Listan Negro, and a red blend, each of which was very drinkable. Particularly with a view from their winery over the vineyards and to the sea in the distance.
Bodegas El Lomo is one of the easiest wineries to visit simply by contacting them to arrange a tasting and tour. It is only a 25 minute drive from the capital of Tenerife, Santa Cruz de Tenerife.
Bodegas Monje Tenerife in El Sauzal in DO Tacoronte-Acentejo
The family behind Bodegas Monje started producing wine in 1750 and a tour through part of the wine celler shows the history. More than anything, though, they are a contemporary winery, embracing wine tourism as a way to spread the word about the wine of Tenerife. They are also a great winery to visit if looking for local Tenerife food, including the famous Canary Island black pig. During nicer weather, enjoy a glass (or bottle) of wine with a view over the water from their terrace.
Bodegas Monje is also located about 25 minutes from Santa Cruz de Tenerife, on the west side of the island. This is the absolute easiest winery to visit. This is due, in part, to their restaurant, as well as to their focus on wine tourism. It’s still best to contact them ahead of time.Book a Wine Tasting at Bodega Monje with a Mojo Workshop
Bodegas Suertes del Marqués in DO Valle de La Orotava
If you’ve drunk Tenerife wine in the US, chances are you’ve drank Suertes del Marqués. They are producing contemporary and complex wines, almost all of which are aged in oak barrels. That’s a little unusual for Tenerife because most of the locals prefer younger wines. Although currently it is difficult to arrange a tour and a tasting, it’s possible in the future they will be adding more visits.
Suertes del Marqués is located about 40 minutes from Santa Cruz de Tenerife, on the way to the Teide national park. Look for their 7 Fuentes wines at local Tenerife restaurants. Or, look for their single vineyard wines for something special.
Altos de Trevejos in DO Abona
Altos de Trevejos is unique in that it is the highest vineyard in Spain, in the foothills of Teide. They are producing a fabulous sparkling rose as well as some unique dessert wines. They are not as easy to visit as they don’t run regular tours, but it is worth contacting them through their website to try organize a visit. The bodega is lovely as is their view overlooking the desert-like landscape. Look for their wines on Tenerife restaurant menus.
Altos de Trevejos is located in the south of the island, closer to Adeje and the famous Tenerife beach resorts. They are only a 25 minute drive from Adeje.
Bodegas Reverón in DO Abona
It’s fairly easy to visit Bodegas Reverón. Many of the Tenerife tour companies stop at the bodega for a quick tour and tasting. They also operate a restaurant with traditional Tenerife cuisine. If you can’t make it out there, if you order a rose wine at a Tenerife hotel or resort, it just might be from Revenorn. It’s their most popular wine, but a little two sweet for me.
Bodegas Reverón is located almost next door to Alto de Trevejos and is about a 30 minute drive from Adeje.
Tenerife Wine Museum in El Sauzal
Casa del Vino is a small museum but tells a very interesting story about the history of wine in Tenerife. If it is not possible to organize a visit to a winery in Tenerife, then this is a great option for wine travelers. Not only is it a museum, but it operates as a vinoteca in Tenerife, or a wine shop.
The Casa Del Vino is located only a 15-minute drive from Santa Cruz de Tenerife. Tucked behind the museum is a small honey museum as well, one of the best-known products from Tenerife. They are open from 10-8 Tuesday through Saturday, 10-6 on Sunday, and are closed on Monday. There is also a restaurant on site so this makes a nice afternoon out in Tenerife.
* We were supported by the Tenerife tourism board during our stay, but all viewpoints are my own
FAQs - Wine Tour in Tenerife
We stayed in two different areas, one in the north and one in the south. In Adeje, we stayed at the Sheraton La Caleta, which is a great resort option with both local and international restaurant options. We also stayed at La Laguna Gran Hotel, a boutique hotel in the center of San Cristóbal de la Laguna. It’s a great place for a city break and to explore all of the Tenerife wineries in the north.
Not particularly, to be honest. I would always recommend renting a car to explore Tenerife because so many of the great restaurants are located outside of the beach areas. If you rent a car, then definitely try contacting one of the wineries ahead of time arrange a visit and tasting. It’s definitely worth it.
Yes, there are a few companies that arrange wine tastings. Check out this option for a wine and hike in the north or if you have a car, you can arrange a tour to Monje winery with a mojo workshop. Mojo is the famous Canary Islands pepper sauce (that I love). This is what we did at Monje and it was a great experience.
Amber Hoffman, food and travel writer behind With Husband In Tow, is a recovering attorney and professional eater, with a passion for finding new Food and Drink Destinations. She lives with her husband, Eric, in Girona, Catalonia, Spain. Together over the last 20 years, they have traveled to over 70 countries. Amber is the author of the Food Traveler’s Guide to Emilia Romagna.