Would vineyards on the moon look like this?

This amazing, pock-marked volcanic terrain looks like a landscape from the moon or another planet. It’s hard to imagine a stranger place to find a vineyard. This is La Gería, on the island of Lanzarote in the Canary Islands, and grapes are cultivated here in a very unusual way.

vineyard in La Geria

photograph by loranger

Each vine is grown in an individual pit, about 4-5m wide and 2-3m deep, in a layer of volcanic particles called picon. Crescent walls called zocos are built in semi-circles around the pits to protect the vines from strong winds. Rainfall is very low in the region, but the picon absorbs moisture from the air and prevents evaporation, allowing the vines to grow. Most of the wine produced in the region is a variety called Malvasía.

The unique method of cultivation was developed after Lanzarote experienced a series of devastating volcanic eruptions in the 18th century. For an incredible six-year period from 1730, volcanic eruptions continuously hammered the island of Lanzarote across a 20km front, destroying farming communities and villages and leaving a barren landscape behind.

Archived under Man-Made.

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4 Responses to Would vineyards on the moon look like this?

  1. Claire says:

    I just had to look up the wine variety. It appears the “volcanic Malvasia” they grow in Lanzarote is a “productive variety of white grape, with light aromatic touches and average maturation.”
    I thought: No smoky undertones? But then, I also found out that Guy de Maupassant called one of the grape varieties grown in such vineyards, Malvasia di Lipari: “sirop de soufre…le vin du diable (sulfur syrup…the devil’s wine). ” Lovely!

    • Claire, thanks for looking that up. ‘Sulfur syrup’ has questionable appeal, but for de Maupassant to follow up with ‘the devil’s wine’ makes it all that more intriguing, don’t you think?

  2. Josh says:

    Nice post… I’m just amazed at where grapes will grow.

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