WHAT ARE THOSE WASTES AT THE BOTTOM OF MY GLASS OF WINE?

There’s no better way to end a day than with a wine tasting. Where there is wine, there is a lot of joy. Always!

WINE TASTING

 

We were a party of five at a winery at South East Gran Canaria towards the mountains.At a 1000m above the sea level. As I said, our day was finishing with a wine tasting at Bodega Las Tirajanas. Having our third wine, a glass of dry rose, one of my guest pointed the sediments at the bottom of the glass. Debate on the table had been served: What are those minerals in our glass? Is this ok? Is the wine good? Some guests already knew about them and some did not.

NATURAL SEDIMENTS

You might probably have seen the same while drinking a wine before. Any white, red or even rose wine. We can’t forget that wine comes from grapes, and it is absolutely normal to find these solid remains at the bottom of our glass.

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While making wine, the winemaker transfers the wine from tank to tank in order to filter it. Some of those rests are hard to leave behind and in some cases some winemakers like to leave them there. These sediments help to keep good state of preservation. At some cases these sediments naturally develop in the bottle after certain time. They are natural solid remains from the grapes, nothing more.

rubíOnce I was back home, I looked at the picture of my glass of rose and it came to my mind the precious stone Ruby. Was it red/orange ish? I thought to myself. And I did a quick research: Mr Google! show me Ruby!. I asked my laptop as I was talking to the magic mirrow of Snow White’s step mother, the Black Witch. And there it was, and yes! it is red/orange like the sediments of my rose. And as I’m a bit curious, I couldn’t help to keep finding out a bit more about the meaning of this treasure and its colour.

Apparently orange stones that nature offers us are usually associate with happiness, energy and creativity… Stones with orange colour represents joy and sociability, gathering together its yellow colour with happiness and its red colour with passion. Wouldn’t that be another great description of “wine tasting”? On the other hand, red colour is related with passion, love, prosperity, emotions and strong feelings. Red stones are used to make your body strong and to have corauge, one of the reason they are used to get rid of insecurity and weakness. Isn’t that what winemakers do when making a better wine year after year?

Either way and after sharing my crazy thoughts with you all, I believe those sediments look pretty much as precious stones. Another reason to love wine.

 

Take the time to visit our wineries and let our winemakers and territory make you fall in love once again with your holiday’s feeling.

And remember, by visiting local productions and business, you are collaborating to diversify mass tourism located in touristic areas towards local areas and you are also helping our local economy. Among others you are being responsible with the impact of your visit. Thank you! Sustainable tourism is an option.

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THE CANARY ISLANDS BANANAS

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Did I ever tell you I once got locked in a banana plantation? Well, there I was, practicing one of my favourite hobbies, finding new producers and amazing plantations such as the one I just mentioned. I had seen this plantation while driving the island with my guests and it was perfect for one of my tours.

 

BANANA PLANTATION

 

So I took my car and without hesitating, and after arriving to this amazing landscape, I walked in the field looking for someone to introduce me to the owner.

Banana tree

Banana bunch

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Exotic flowers

 

I didn’t find anyone but as soon as I step among hundreds of this peculiar plants I forgot why I was there. Have you ever seen the flower of this plant? It remains me the flower from the movie “The little shop of horror” (1960) but this one won’t eat you. It is sublime and very exotic. Among its petals grow our little bananas with a tiny flower at the end that it has to be prune one by one and by hand.

 

 

 

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Banana flower

 

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Bananas tres

 

I felt I was in a jungle and I don’t know how long I spent looking at them and taking pictures. After a long while I decided to leave as no one seemed to be there. Well, I was wrong. There I was, because the plantation door was close, and I mean locked. I started laughing, of course this was happening to me. It wasn’t hard to climb and jump out the walls though and I actually felt that I was escaping from a wild jungle.

 

 

 

Anyway, do not forget the Canary Islands bananas are sweet with a touch of citrus flavour. You can eat them raw or you can cook them. One of favourite paired are banana with local cheese. Can’t be described!

Allow yourself to visit a banana plantation and do not dare to leave the island without trying this delightful fruit that represents one of our favourite flavours, please!!

And remember, by visiting local productions and business, you are collaborating to diversify mass tourism located in touristic areas to local areas and you are also helping our local economy. Among others you are being responsible with the impact of your visit. Thank you, Sustainable tourism is an option.

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Santa Brígida, Wine and Dutch Pirates

Santa Brígida

Santa Brígida has its place in my family memories. In the Canary Islands is just like that, every family has its places, a geography of its own. The municipality of Santa Brígida is the third smallest town in Gran Canaria and it stretches mostly on the stream of the gorge Barranco Guiniguada. Santa Brígida flourishes as a bunch of pictures in my memories… its old town, warm and tiny, me and my cousins playing around the small church, the first teenager talks about love, the volcanic landscape of lapilli (picón in the Canary Islands Spanish dialect), the living silence of La Caldera de Bandama (volcanic crater), and the panoramic view of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria from the Mirador del Pico de Bandama (Bandama Natual Monument).

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Bandama

Bandama takes its name from Daniel Van Dame, a Flemish trader of the XVII century, a pioneer that dare to raise grapevines in this volcanic area. Nowadays, vineyards are a characteristic symbol of Santa Brígida so that stopping by Bodegas Marcelo-Plaza Perdida, Viña La Vica y Bodega Los Lirios (Ask for their raisins!), surrounded by a volcanic landscape, is a must.

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A bit of history

However, Santa Brígida is much more than wine. Santa Brígida is pure History. Taking a look from the Mirador del Pico de Bandama to Las Isletas bay is imagine the Dutch pirate Van der Does fleet of 74 ships exchanging canyon shots with the Castillo de la Luz (La Luz castle or Las Isletas fortress), clearing out the old sand dune field between Las Canteras beach and Las Alcaravaneras by sweeping fire: a hell of fire and gunpowder.

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The Dutch pirates and the Canarian militia

The Dutch pirates found in Santa Brígida a fierce opponent: the Canarian militia. They paid a high price until they entered into the city, stole the bell of the chapel of San Telmo (Parque San Telmo) and burnt down the old city of Vegueta. Then they ran after the Canarian militia to Santa Brígida, tracking the stream of the Barranco Guiniguada; there, the militia placed in an ambush and defeated the pirates. This battle is known as La Gesta del Batán. Since then, the motto of Santa Brígida is “By Spain and Faith We Defeated the Dutch”.

 

Links:

About La Vica and Plaza Perdida wines (Spanish)

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A LAND OF CHEESE

Just a bit of history

The Canary Islands is a land of cheese. In 1341, the excellent quality of our cheese was already mentioned in the Boccaccio manuscript, an ancient historical proof about the very first settlers of the Canary Islands. Later, during the XVII and XVIII centuries, Canary cheese was exported to Europe with the wine we made here. Today we produce cheese on every single island and have 5 Protected Designation of Origin cheeses: Queso Majorero, of the island of Fuerteventura; Queso Palmero, of the island of La Palma, and Quesos Flor de Guía, de Quesos Media Flor and Quesos de Guía of the Northeast of Gran Canaria.

Canary cheese is well known by all canarians, specially these ones:

  • Queso Fresco de Valsequillo: fresh cheese.
  • Queso Ahumado de La Palma: smoked cheese.
  • Queso Ahumado de El Hierro: half-creamy smoked cheese also known as queso herreño.
  • Queso Majorero al Pimentón: semi-hard or hard cheese from Fuerteventura with paprika cover.
  • Queso Duro al Gofio: hard or cured cheese with gofio cover.
  • Queso de Flor de Guía: semi-hard cheese from vegetable curdling.

What makes special the Canary cheese is the geographical variety, the unique genetic of our goats and what and how the livestock feed.

In the Canary Islands, cheese is made in a quesería (cheese-maker), a family business traditionally connected to livestock farming where goats are the most common animals. However, cheese made only from cow or sheep milk is rare. We use to make cheese from a combination of goat, cow and sheep milk.

Cheese: which and when

The Canary fresh cheese is a perfect starter, but you can also have it for breakfast with a slice of dulce de guayaba (guava paste) on it. Yummy! You can easly find queso fresco in any supermarket, for example: Queso Fresco de Valsequillo, Queso Fresco de San Mateo or Queso Fresco Lomo Gallego.

For lunch or dinner or as an enyesque (canary word for tapa) you can taste a queso semi-duro (semi-hard), a queso duro (hard-cheese) or a queso ahumado (smoked cheese). The queso ahumado is often fried and served with marmelade or mojo verde. These cheeses can be also easly found in any supermarket: Quesos Maxorata (semi-ard, hard cheese from Fuerteventura), Quesos El Pastor Isleño (cured cheese), Quesos El Herreño (smoked cheese from El Hierro),

Remember, Canary Islands is a land of cheese and our cheeses are world class 2018.

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Huerto de las Flores, a place of exuberance and peace

A long, long time ago, hundreds of seeds and plant slips traveled from all over the world to reach Agaete, in the north of Gran Canaria. Here they found a place of exuberance and peace, a new land to embrace, the Huerto de las Flores, a botanical garden created by the De Armas family, and one of the most beautiful gardens in the Canary Islands.

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The Huerto de las Flores is located in the Valle de Agaete and it is one of my favorite places. The exuberance of its trees and flowers calls us to a realm of peace and stillness. Certainly, this is a magical location inviting us to sit and meditate peacefully, to inhabit time without haste.

In the last century, Francisco de Armas, the owner of the garden, used to organize literary happenings in this garden where the poets Tomás Morales, Domingo Rivero, and Alonso Quesada encouraged the gathering and the exchange of ideas.

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Tertulia en el Huerto de las Flores

Whenever I come here I have the feeling that the whole world stops in the Huerto de las Flores. Then I can hear nature’s delicate music emanating from the roots of the trees, this invitation of nature to close my eyes and look from that inner dimension. It is easy to stay here, walking, discovering all the plants in here or just to sit down while the silence that visits and embraces us.  Alone, or in the company of our beloved ones, this is garden will touch us, and the children, without a doubt, will take away an indelible memory. The Huerto de las Flores can be visited all year long but I recommend being attentive to the flowering months to enjoy a really moving spectacle.

 

More information:

About the Huerto de las Flores

7 curious facts about the Huerto de Las Flores

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Handmade Tours: the experience of sustainable tourism

It’s been now four years since Handmade Tours took off. Since then, I have learned a lot, improved many things and grown as a person. Back in those years, I didn’t know how to run a business, and the idea of these tours you can now enjoy was just a baby. It changed a few times since then but I finally met the soul of Handmade Tours: support local business, offer a real experience to my guests.

Handmade Tours embraces the idea of sustainable and responsible tourism. This point of view is continuously pushing forward my project. Caring about my producers helps me to keep a good relationship with them, and share this motto: take small steps to make bigger changes.

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I only work 100% Gran Canaria local producers and offer 100% Gran Canaria local products. Because of that, I feel now so lucky after all these wonderful years. I really feel so fortunate because local producers share with me their satisfaction with my guests, travelers that show real interest in their local reality and products. This is a mutual trust relationship arising from one single fact: local producers set the tour price themselves.

Sometimes the producers and I have to agree on a middle term, and we do it so that we can both gain equallyThe payment is made on the same day of the tour and, in many cases, I pay in advanced an amount previously agreed. This is a significant change if compared with the old system where they only got paid according to commissions. Now, they call me. We talk about those new companies, companies interested in settling visits with them, but trying to set a price unilaterally.

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Above all, I value the kindness they share with my guests and me, their precious time. In every tour, they show the processes and explain the needs of their products’ harvesting. It makes my guests really happy, and I am also proud because I know I’m collaborating with them to create a new source of income, a brand new understanding of their traditional work, a value that my discerning guests do appreciate.

Sustainable tourism is happening, and it is great! Meet now our local producers and people, feel the love they feel for their jobs and their island, let them warmly welcome you, as we do to friends; experience our traditions, our local products, our favorite places within the small and beautiful extension of Gran Canaria, dressed with surprising microclimates.

Handmade Tours, the unexpected experience of Gran Canaria. Come with me!

 

 

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Viticulture/territory

Vineyards in Gran Canaria

Gran Canaria has a Surface of 1.560 km². Pretty small, right? It is a volcano island about 5km deep in the Atlantic Ocean to 1949m above the sea. This means if you are willing to buy a land here, you are going to buy a piece of mountain. How do you work your land to make the best of the climate and soil? How do you make a slope of mountain into a vineyard?

It is now when I confess I strong believe wine makers are crazy! With all respect and love but, do you know how much hard work is in the bottle of wine you are about to drink? I like to compare it with Christmas dinner. Mothers spend days grocery shopping, cooking, decorating, serving… And here comes the family and all gone in an hour! Well, wine making takes longer and is harder!

Video: Harvest in August

At the picture and video post you can see a vineyard located in a gorgeous valley at north west Gran Canaria. This amazing place has its own microclimate, which makes a very stressful harvest. Summer can get hotter in this valley, much hotter than only a few minutes away by the coast. For that reason they have to come up with an idea to protect the grapes from this heat. It is cooler underneath and it feels like nirvana 😉 They produce last harvest 40.000 bottles whites and reds. Pretty small, right?

More I’m learning about wine making in the Canary Island, more I understand I will probably need dozens of life of to learn it all… Do not miss the change to visit the wineries at Gran Canaria, wine tasting or walk the vineyards. It is an amazing adventure!

Want to know more? Leave your comments and follow me at Facebook, Instagram or here!!

 

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