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La Palma

DO area on the Spanish island of the same name; see under Canary Islands

The Canary Islands (Spanish: Canarias), a group of islands belonging to Spain with about 7,500 km², are located in the Atlantic Ocean off the northwest coast of Africa. This is 1,100 km from mainland Spain, but the easternmost island of Lanzarote is only 100 kilometres from Africa(Morocco). When the Romans landed on the island of Fuerteventura in ancient times, they found numerous packs of wild dogs, so they named the island "Insula Canaria" (Dog Island). In 1402 a Spanish ship landed on Gran Canaria and found there the original population of the Guanches, this people still lived like in the stone age. The Spaniards and Portuguese brought their native grape varieties with them until the end of the century and established viticulture. Sweet, alcohol-heavy wines were popular at the time, made from the white varieties Moscatel and Malvasia. The wine was known as "canary sack" and was exported in large quantities to England and northern Europe. By the time of William Shakespeare (1564-1616), island wine was already famous; in "What You Will," Sir Toby Belch asks for "a cup of canary."

The seven main islands are Fuerteventura, La Gomera, Gran Canaria, El Hierro, Lanzarote, La Palma and Tenerife; wine is grown on all of them. They are volcanic islands, the last eruption took place on La Palma in 1971. For this reason, the soil is volcanic and very suitable for viticulture. The subtropical climate, which is pleasant and constant throughout the year, has earned the archipelago the nickname of the "Islands of Eternal Spring". The flora is characterized by a high biodiversity and a high percentage of autochthonous plant species. The vineyards cover about 9,000 hectares of vines. A special feature are the exclusively rootless vines, as the archipelago was largely spared from...

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