PRESERVING TRADITIONAL WINEMAKING IN LANZAROTE FOR FUTURE GENERATIONS
- Centuries-old grape-growing technique paving the way for sustainable development on Lanzarote
- Preservation of Lanzarote’s cultural heritage creates jobs for local people with disabilities
- Hotels serve organic wines and holidaymakers experience local wine culture
25 July 2018 – The marks of traditional winemaking are evident in the unique landscape of La Geria in Lanzarote with over ten thousand vine pits scattered across the terrain. Remnants of a vanishing industry, the distinctive pits were filled with small lava stones to hold moisture and nurture the vines, and then protected with larger lava stone walls. Labour intensive by modern standards, farmers have been gradually abandoning this tradition. An initiative supported by the TUI Care Foundation’s ‘TUI Cares’ programme is reviving this cultural heritage, creating jobs and introducing the region’s signature wines to holidaymakers.
Working with expert advisors from Futouris, a German non-profit organisation, and the workers of the local charity Grevislan, farmer Miquel Angel Robayna is now on their second harvest producing organic grape varieties through traditional techniques. He and other farmers are being empowered through the development of new distribution channels to hotels and restaurants, with a view to making traditional grape-cultivation more attractive and productive. Hotel staff are being trained in the history of local winemaking and how to encourage the consumption of local products among visitors. Holidaymakers will be able to taste the wines in a range of hotels in the region as well as taking interactive excursions to the vineyards and attending special events.
In addition, as part of the project, people with disabilities will find jobs and work together with wine producers on their lands.
Thomas Ellerbeck, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the TUI Care Foundation, explains: “This initiative combines the environmental, social and cultural aspects of sustainability in a very special way. Highly motivated local people with disabilities find new ways to make their living while securing the unique cultivation technique in La Geria. With state-of-the-art practices for organic and sustainable winemaking, the initiative makes the century-old tradition fit for the future and helps to protect the natural environment of Lanzarote. And, together with the local farmers, an authentic experience for visitors is created.”
Klaus Guttenberger, a pioneer of organic farming in Lanzarote, supports the initiative, commenting: “The craters are unique in the world, but you have to take the wine upmarket to make it financially viable. This autumn, Miguel Angel Robayna is harvesting organic grapes in La Garia for the second time and producing premium wines that can command a price tag to support the production. The locally common sweet Malvasia Volcanica grapes, along with fruity Listan Blanco, Listan Negro and Muscat varieties, have been growing in the fields for generations. Conservation and agriculture both have a part to play and the ultimate goal is to protect the landscape with the people in it, not drive people out.”
The ´TUI Cares´ programme aims to improve livelihoods through local sourcing, create cultural experiences for holidaymakers and open up opportunities for entrepreneurs in holiday destinations. Though this programme, the TUI Care Foundation aims to enhance 10,000 local livelihoods by 2020. Projects are also currently in place in Jamaica, Greece, Morocco and Turkey.