Some historians confirm that the first European vines were brought to the islands, even before Spanish colonisation, by the missionaries who arrived in the 14th century. However, it was not until mid-16th century that it became the island´s biggest industry and the sweet Malvasia wine was exported, mostly by the British, to Europe and America. The Canary wine trade continued for 300 years despite wars, bans, volcanic eruptions and disease until it gradually faded from the international scene, reducing production to local consumption.
The most tragic episode in vine growing was the arrival of the phylloxera vine aphid from America to Europe´s vineyards in the 1860s. The plague attacked the vine roots, killing the plant, and nothing could be done to stop it. Many ancient varieties were wiped out completely throughout the continent and today most of vines in the world are grafted on phylloxera-resistant roots. However, the Canary Islands were not reached by the plague; therefore, some of the most ancient varieties of vines of the world can be found here.
Today the Islands, and especially Tenerife, are producing excellent wines. The non-grafted plants, volcanic soil and microclimates help to create these exclusive wines, from fresh fruity whites to full spicy reds. Hand laboured vineyards and artisan wineries are scattered all over the rugged geography of Tenerife, from the coast to the mountain slopes where the highest vineyards of Europe can be found.