A Visit to Bodega Vulcano
The Wine Shop Lanzarote team recently paid a visit to one of our producers, Bodega Vulcano to see how they were getting on. We had Nieves on hand to write for her blog Verde y Negro and also for an edition for our website too! Just like all the other wineries on the Island, this winery offers a completely different side to Lanzarote wine.
Bodega Vulcano is one of the newest wineries in Lanzarote at just 12 years old, but whose personality is far from that of a pre-adolescent! Vulcano is an urban winery, located in a three-story building, much like a townhouse in the centre of Tías. If the issue of space is already a problem for any winery in Lanzarote, here is a challenge that they have overcome with admirable creativity.
Víctor and María José, the owners, received us wonderfully in the boutique store (yes boutique! when you see it you will understand why it is called that way), they made us feel at home and they told us their story. Víctor Díaz Figueroa is the fifth generation of winemaker in his family from his father’s side, and the third from his mother's side. It could be said that grape must runs through his veins. I have already mentioned in other articles that many grape farmers in Lanzarote save a small batch of their grapes (the rest typically being sold on to the large wineries) to make wine at home, and this family was not prepared to carry on in this way. After all, Victor grew up among vines, pressing the grapes with his feet in an old press.
The grape sale system on the Island has not always been clear cut to provide a full-time income, so they were faced with two options: either they made their own wine or they left the vines. It's sad, but it's already incredibly difficult and time consuming to cultivate these volcanic soils. Well, the Díaz family, in January 2009, threw the blanket over their heads and decided to go all out with their own wine, this was the beginning of Vulcano. Setting up a winery is not an easy undertaking, although they did it quite quickly; in July, almost coinciding with the arrival of the grapes, they already had all the machinery and began to produce. There were a few litres at the beginning, but they sold well and that encouraged them to continue with the project. Today they make 120,000 litres of wines and cater for all tastes.
What fascinates me most about this winery is how they have managed to remain faithful to the initial idea of differentiation, quality and respect for the land, but innovating every year. For example, they were the first winery on the Island to introduce a must bank. The idea came about because of the rose, which is one of the first to be made every year. Victor explains, “around September it is usually ready to drink. We like to drink rose young and fresh, but in winter it is not consumed as much, and when the hot season arrives it has sometimes evolved too much; losing those strawberry notes and that intense colour that we love.” Well from problems to solutions! “Once we have the must, a part is made for immediate consumption and the rest is put into tanks that keep it between 0 and -5º so that it can last a long season, while preserving its freshness, so that we can carry out several fermentations throughout the period. The wine is always like new!” Bodega Vulcano introduced this process to the Island, and now other bodegas have followed suit. It is an expensive invention because of course, keeping refrigeration running year-round is not cheap; but it's worth it. Believe me, I had a bottle of 2018 rose yesterday and it's as if they just made it, exquisite!
Another innovation from Vulcano is that all of its production is vegan, with an authenticity certificate included. You may now be thinking what is the animal part of the grape! Well the grape is a vegetable, of course, but when making the wine there are particles that must be filtered and clarified so that it is very clean, bright and transparent. In that process, sometimes products that contain eggs or other animal derivatives are used (I will talk about this in more depth in another post). This winery is committed to veganism and has a special machine that was specially built for them which separates the solid particles found in the wine, without introducing any type of product, vegetable, animal, or anything. Vulcano is the only certified vegan bodega on Lanzarote.
When I first got into the wine business and made my first visits, I always loved comparing winemaking to cooking. That's why I was delighted to hear from Victor that a winery is like a great kitchen: it always has to be spotless. Unless you do an oxidative aging (like the Jerez wineries, which age in a solera) there should be no odours in the environment. In his own words, “a winery should smell good, but not volatile (aromas typical of wine) because if you perceive them, it means that they are escaping from the tanks.” I assure you that in this winery nothing escapes: each sip is a pleasure and an explosion of freshness and sensations.
Thanks for reading!