Tenerife is the largest of all the Canary Islands, which are controlled by Spain and are located off the coast of West Africa.
Wine has been produced on the island for nearly 600 years, and the vast majority of plantings are of indigenous wine grape varietals.
There are currently five major regions that make up the wines of Tenerife, with only one currently exporting wine to the rest of the world.
The vast majority of wine produced on the island is consumed locally, making this an elusive and fascinating wine region for many adventurous wine enthusiasts.
A Guide to the Wines of Tenerife
Tenerife’s Wine History
Less than 100 years after the island of Tenerife was discovered along with the rest of the Canary Islands in the 15th century, it had already become an important exporter of sweet wines.
Throughout the entire 16th century the island produced and exported Malvasia to Europe.
The exportation of sweet wine from the Canary Islands was very prolific for hundreds of years, and by the 1660s these wines were some of the most expensive and sought-after dessert wines in all of Europe.
The island’s convenient location along the way for ships headed to the Americas from Europe made it an important area for trade, and much of the area’s wine was spread through the rest of the world as a result.
The isolated nature of the Canary Islands turned out to be a major blessing during the Phylloxera outbreak in the late 19th century.
While many of the world’s wine grapes were being ravaged by the famous vine-eating insect, Canary Island was unaffected.
While major European countries like England eventually favored dessert wines like Port and Madeira over the centuries, the island of Tenerife never stopped producing wine.
While most of the wine produced there today is enjoyed locally, there is also plenty exported to this day.
Wine Regions of Tenerife
While many different parts of the island of Tenerife have been used for wine production over the centuries, there are five major regions where wine is produced today.
Tacoronte-Acentejo is the most prominent region on the island, as well as its most prolific exporter of wine.
Valle de la Orotava
Tucked in the northwest corner of Tenerife, the Valle de la Orotava DOP is one of the island’s original wine-producing regions.
There is evidence of wine production in this region dating back to the 15th century, and the area primarily focuses on white wine production.
While the majority of the crops produced in the region today are potatoes and bananas, there are still a significant amount of wine grapes grown in the Valle de la Orotava region.
Two of the region’s most popular wine grapes are Palomino and Listan Negro.
Suertes del Marques Vidonia is one of the most highly rated bottles of wine from the Valle de la Orotava and has received high marks from wine enthusiasts and critics alike.
The Palomino grape is used to produce this complex white wine that received a 96 from Wine Advocate.
Suertes del Marques ‘El Ciruelo’ Listan Negro Vinas Viejas is a fantastic singe varietal representation of the Valle de la Orotava’s most popular red wine grape.
The Listan Negro grape produces a unique light red wine featuring both soft tannins and notes of spice.
Located on the west side of the island of Tenerife, the Ycoden-Daute-Isora is another historic wine region with its winemaking roots running all the way back to the 15th century when the island was conquered and came under Spanish rule.
While there are over 20 different wine grapes that are allowed to be produced under this DOP, the vast majority of the region’s production is centered around the Palomino grape.
Listan Negro is the area’s most popular red wine, and the majority of the region’s wines are dry or off-dry.
Borja Perez Viticultor ‘Artifice’ Tinto is one of the most popular and recognizable bottles of red wine from the Ycoden-Daute-Isora region.
This light-bodied red wine provides red fruit flavors on the palate that are balanced perfectly with the wine’s subtle acidity and soft tannins.
The same producer is also responsible for Borja Perez Viticultor ‘Artifice’ Listan Blanco Fermentado en Barrica, which is a classic take on a Palomino that is typical of the region.
At under $35 per bottle, this full-flavored white wine “over delivers” in terms of value.
The Abona wine region is located on the island’s southern coast, and it is one of the newest wine regions in the entire Canary Islands.
Founded in 1996, this DOP covers one of the few areas on the island of Tenerife where wine grapes were not affected by the phylloxera crisis.
Phylloxera was unable to reach the Aboona region partly due to its isolation from the rest of the world at the time.
Some of the most historic indigenous grape vines in the area were preserved as a result, making this area home to some of the most unique wines on the island.
Bodegas Cumbres de Abona ‘Testamento’ Malvasia Dulce is the most popular dessert wine from the Abona region, and it is made using the Malvasia grape.
At under $20 per bottle, this wine offers wine enthusiasts of all budgets to taste a bit of the region’s history.
The same producer is also well known for its production of another well-known and more affordable dessert wine made from a different grape.
Bodegas Cumbres de Abona ‘Flor de Chasna’ Blanco Afrutado is another sweet wine, only made from the Palomino grape instead.
The Tacoronte-Acentejo wine region is located on the northeast portion of the island of Tenerife, and it is the oldest and most established DOPs in all of the Canary Islands.
Today the area is known as a primarily red wine producing region, though white wine grapes are also grown.
One of the factors that make Tacoronte-Acentejo unique from the rest of the island is the fact that the region has fully embraced the exportation of wine to other countries.
For this reason, there are many internationally popular grape varietals that aren’t found on the rest of the island.
Bodegas Monje Vijariego Negro is a complex red wine that is completely unique to the Canary Islands.
The thick-skinned Vijariego Negro grape is used to make this bold and intense wine that is sure to impress at any wine tasting or dinner party.
For adventurous wine enthusiasts seeking another unique and indigenous red wine grape from the Canary Islands, Bodegas Candido Hernandez Pio ‘Vina Riquelas’ Negramoll is a fantastic option.
This popular bottle of wine showcases all the best parts of the island’s Negramoll grape.
Valle de Güimar
The Valle de Güimar DOP covers the southeast part of Tenerife, and it is another one of the island’s younger wine regions.
There are only a handful of producers making wine in this relatively small region, and Palomino carries most of the area’s sales and production.
Los Loros ‘La Bota de Mateo’ is the most popular and most highly acclaimed bottle of white wine made using the Palomino grape from the Valle de Güimar region.
It has been awarded multiple scores of over 90 points by wine critics, making it the area’s top-rated wine.
Wine Grapes of Tenerife
While there are a handful of French and other international wine grapes grown in the Tacoronte-Acentejo region of Tenerife today, the vast majority of the island’s wine is made using ancient and indigenous wine grapes that are rarely found in other parts of the world.
The Palomino wine grape is grown almost exclusively in its birthplace of southwest Spain, making island planting on Tenerife both an oddity and a novelty in the eyes of some wine enthusiasts.
This white wine grape is most often used for the production of dessert wines.
While the Palomino grape is mostly used in Sherry production when grown in southwest Spain, the grape is often used to make single varietal bottles of white wine when grown in Tenerife.
This is one of the most commonly planted and iconic grapes grown on the island today.
The Listan Negro wine grape is strikingly dark in pigment and has a thick skin, making it a fantastic candidate for producing bold and complex red wines that are still light in body.
This is a wine grape that is only known to grow in the Canary Islands, making it extremely rare.
Much of the wine being produced today using Listan Negro is done so using a process called carbonic maceration.
This rustic winemaking technique is most often associated with the French wine region of Beaujolais and produces approachable wine that is easy to drink.
The Marmajuelo grape is one of the rarest white wine grapes in the entire world, and it is only found in the Canary Islands.
There are very few vineyards still producing the grape today, making it even rarer and coveted by wine enthusiasts worldwide.
The wines produced using the Marmajuelo are crisp and many wine enthusiasts report tasting an intense minerality that is impossible to replicate.
It is most often used in white wine blends, as the limited quantity makes it nearly impossible to produce a single varietal wine.
Wines of Tenerife – Conclusion
Between the 15th and 17th centuries, the island of Tenerife was one of the most important exporters of sweet wine in the entire world.
Though times have changed in terms of both prominence and scale, the island has never stopped producing wine. This is one of the most exotic and interesting wine regions anywhere in the world, and the wines produced there are as striking as they are unique.
Feel free to leave a comment below if you have been lucky enough to sample a bottle of wine from the famous island of Tenerife!