If you were choosing somewhere to set up a vineyard, I don't think that you'd choose Lanzarote. Much of the island is taken over by menacing volcanic peaks, barren lava fields and volcanic badlands where pretty much nothing seems to grow. Plus, it hardly ever rains here, and the almost-constant winds have bent over the few trees that do grow here into bizarre shapes.
And yet, somehow, against all the odds, Lanzarote has turned itself into a major wine producer. Because, curiously enough, they have created a way of cultivating wine that has made a positive out of Lanzarote's negatives. Hollows have been dug into the cinders and walls built around the spread-out vines to protect them from the unrelenting winds. The volcanic soil is obviously fertile, and the cinders filter down the morning dew into the vine's roots to keep them watered, but they protect them from the heat of the ever-present sun.
So, in the shadow of the volcanoes, in this incredibly inhospitable climate, are row-upon-row of circular hollows containing precious vines – it makes for a bizarre and beautiful sight. And, the wine they produce isn't bad too. We went on a wine tour around the island, tasting a few of its better wines. The dry Malvasia was my favourite – the reds weren't up to much, and if you like your wines sweet (which I don't), then you'd love the syrupy desert wines on offer.
As we were in port quite late, after the tour, we headed into Arrecife for a tapas dinner. Sitting outside the busy tapas bars around the lagoon, it seemed that Lanzarote can't be a bad place to spend some time, even if those spectacularly bleak landscapes can get a bit oppressive.
PS. Whilst I was quaffing wine, Tracy got a different perspective on the island by exploring the Tamanfaya National Park on the back of a camel.