While their experience of grape-growing and home-winemaking stretches into the distant past, the García family of the Orotava Valley in Tenerife in the Canary Islands counts three generations of commercial wine production on the northern flanks of Teide, an active volcano and talismanic landmark whose summit is the highest point in Spain.
First was Don Casiano García, who in the 1940s established a small commercial bodega in Aguamansa, a tiny village at 1000 meters of altitude where grapes are barely grown nowadays. In 1973 his son, Don Américo García Núñez, acquired a five-hectare property outside the village of La Perdoma called La Habanera. Don Américo continued with a busy career of managing the local co-op, helping establish the island’s five Denominations of Origin through the 1990s, and founding Bodegas Arautava in 1998. Since 2020, his son Carlos García is at the helm and he’s taking the estate to new heights of quality.
While the now-retired Don Américo was not a highly ambitious, export-focused winemaker, he was thankfully a passionate conservator of the island’s traditional viticulture, and the estate’s crown jewel, the Finca La Habanera, is the kind of vineyard that could only exist on Tenerife. Vines are indeterminate in age— planting records are commonly lost there—but they are evidently at least a century old and very likely pre-phylloxera (or, to be pedantic, pre-phylloxera-era, as phylloxera never reached Tenerife and most of the island’s vines are own-rooted). They’re trained to the unique-to-Tenerife cordón trenzado (“braided cord”), a method brought originally by Portuguese settlers but now vanished from Portugal, which involves braiding the vine’s canes together into snakelike tresses that can stretch up to ten meters in length up the 40% grade of the vineyard, which in barely more than 400 meters of length rises 150 meters up the slopes of the volcano.
Since taking over in 2020, Carlos has made rapid strides. All wines are now fermented with indigenous yeast, 500-liter barrels and concrete tanks have been incorporated into a formerly all-tank regimen, and, though not seeking certification due to the island’s tricky subtropical climate, he has farmed organically since the 2021 vintage. His goal—resoundingly achieved today—is to produce wines with purity of fruit that express, in classical fashion, the island’s unique combination of Atlantic and volcanic character.