A sustainable future for traditional winemaking in La Geria
Wine is one of the oldest cultural goods and is very strong connected to the people in many parts of Europe. Wine is much more than a luxury good. It reflects the fundamentals of climate, soil and traditions of a region. Therefore, the aim of organic wine making is to produce wine in harmony with nature and local traditions.
The volcanic eruption on Lanzarote between 1730 and 1736 covered the island with a thick layer of lava and ash and changed the landscape of La Geria (5,255.4 acre) substantially. After years of struggle, residents learned to cultivate the land and rebuild their lives. Traditional cultivation of grapes on Lanzarote involves planting the vines in pits filled with ‘pícon’—small lava stones that hold moisture well. To protect the vines from the wind, semicircles of larger lava stones are constructed. La Geria’s unique landscape boasts over ten thousand pits and circular walls. These authentic local wine production techniques are very labor-intensive and not cost efficient by modern standards. Farmers are therefore abandoning the land and La Geria is slowly falling into neglect and losing its cultural heritage.
On the other hand Lanzarote is a popular holiday destination due to its favorable climate conditions and its unique natural and cultural landscape. About 3 million tourists are visiting the island every year.
Tourism shall be used as an opportunity to preserve the unique volcanic scenery of La Geria as well as to protect the nature and culture of the island by opening up new distribution channels for local wine producers and farmers.
Overall aim: Enhancing local livelihoods on Lanzarote through tourism by preserving the cultural heritage of winemaking and driving (sustainable) local sourcing.
- A group of min. 15 wine growers benefit from trainings and individual guidance in organic farming methods (according to EU standards). The progress will be monitored on a regular basis. Organic wine production, on the one hand, protects the natural resources of La Geria and creates a high-quality product as artificial fertilizers and pesticides are not used. In addition, the traditional cultivation in pits is supported and thus the cultural asset of La Geria is preserved.
- 20 people with disabilities are integrated in farm work in a sustainable manner that enables the organization Grevislan to offer permanent jobs to people with disabilities (as part of the exit strategy).
- In order to open up new distribution channels for the organic wines hotel staff of min. 3 hotels are trained in local wine growing history and the local and cultural characters of La Geria’s wine growing landscape. They also learn how to present organic wines to their guests in order to support the sale of local products.
- Wine events in hotels allow the guests to taste local wines and learn interesting background information about their holiday destination and the local way of wine growing. In addition interactive, sustainable excursions to the vineyards are designed in which the guests visit the participating bodegas and taste the local organic wines.
Project goals in a nutshell:
- Supporting the ecological viticulture to preserve the natural resources and the cultural heritage of the island.
- Giving people with disadvantaged backgrounds the chance to make a living on their own.
- Strengthening local added value through new linkages between local producers and the local tourism sector.
- Enhancing visitors’ experience to the island and the uniqueness of its cultural heritage by designing interactive wine tasting events and sustainable excursions.