Situated on the main LZ30 road that runs from Uga to Teguise through the La Geria wine region of Lanzarote, Bodegas Stratus is the newest winery here on the island with an impressive, state of the art cellar covering an area of 2500 square metres. As you drive or walk in the area you will notice the bodegas two large red wine bottles indicating its car park and entrance.
The main house, has been meticulously transformed into a wine bar and gourmet shop as well as serving as a reception area where you are able to book your tour of the cellar which cost 10 euros per person. This price includes a 40 minute tour of the the production area and cellars followed by 20 minutes of wine tasting which is accompanied by a selection of local goats cheeses.
The gourmet shop offers a complete selection of their prestigious wines sold in two sizes of bottles, 50cl priced at 8 euros per bottle, and 75cl priced at 12 euros a bottle. The shop also offers a full selection of local goats cheeses produced by the Finca de Uga as well as more interesting gifts, including wine soaps and shower gels. Here there is a patio area with tables nestled under a large tree where you are able to sit with your glass of wine and admire the views across the surrounding vineyards.
The wine tour is extremely interesting and starts with an explaination of the process used to grow vines in such arid conditions. Deep circular pits are initially produced by camels dragging a small log behind them in a circle. The bottom of each pit contains a bed of 20cm´s of ´picon´, solidified volcanic ash, which is very porous. Individual vines are then planted in each pit, at a depth enabling their roots to find the soil beneath the picon. As small wall made of volcanic stone is then built around the circumference of the pit which enables moisture and dew to be retained within the area. The distance between each pit varies depending on the grape variety being grown.
Bodegas Stratus uses 20% of its own grape harvest to produce its selection of wines obtaining the other 80% from grape producers in the area. None of the grapes are imported from the mainland as this would mean that the wine could not feature the official ´Consejo Regulador de la Denominación de Origin Lanzarote´ sticker on the back of its bottles, a mark which signifies that the wine is a product of Lanzarote alone and that is has been produced in conformity with the relevant regulations.
Due to the layout out the vines, all harvesting is done by hand, this year starting at the beginning of August, with the farmers being provided with plastic crates to put their grapes in, each crate having a capacity to hold 18 kilos of fruit. By keeping the weight to a minimum in each, the quality of the grapes can be viewed quickly and any imperfections spotted.
On delivery, the grapes are taken into the cooling chamber that has a temperature ranging between 0 & 3 degrees celcius. Here it is fascinating to learn that the fruit is placed onto a conveyour belt monitored by two people, who remove any damaged grapes and destem them berry by berry. They then fall one by one onto a vibrating table where a pump is used to send the grapes on to both the pressing and fermentation process. Skins that are removed are then used for compost.
The sheer size of the fermentation tanks is extremely impressive, with silver coloured tanks glowing purple underneath the coloured lights. All temperature control is done using a touch screen computer system mounted on the wall.
160 different wine farms here on the island are used by Bodegas Stratus and before harvesting their onsite laboratory checks the quality and pH levels of the samples provided. This bodega is the only one at present with its own onsite lab with others having to send away for any testing needed.
Alcohol fermentation takes place in French and American oak vats enriching both the colour and the aroma of the wine. Oxygen penetrating through the pores of the wood help determine the colour of the wine, with oak wood giving the wine and aromatic and smooth final taste. The Bordeaux casks hold 225 litres with the larger vats holding up to 7000 litres of wine. These wooden casks are lightly burnt to add aroma to the wine and by using different types of tannin to the barrels, it makes them suitable for the ageing of red wines, sweet liquers and dessert wines. The barrels are stored at 16 degrees celcius in a room with a ceiling made of volcanic rock which assists in keeping the barrels cool.
Althought the sweet Moscatel wines hold numerous hightly prestigious awards, the red wine produced by the bodega is now a main focus. Production of the red wine has only been in process since 2005 and with the wine having to go through two fermentation processes, with six months in the casks and a further six months settling in the bottles, it is still a very young wine compared to that of red wines from other parts of Europe.
The bottling plant has a capacity of 1.5 million bottles per year, and as of September this year, they had produced 350,000 bottles. Natural cork stoppers are used to seel the bottles topped with a cylican wax which preserves the outside of the cork and prevents air entering the bottle guaranteeing that the wine reaches the customer intact. The labels on the bottles refer directly to the native soil, to the unique landscape and winery´s special characteristics. They also give a summary about each type of wine on the back label, its name, type, year of vintage, alcohol content etc. The bottles are packed in boxes of six and are shipped onto restaurants here on the island, to Las Palmas in Gran Canaria and resorts and private residents in mainland Spain. They do have a German retailler and retail in the United Kingdom is now under negotiation.
On leaving the cellars you are then taken on to your wine tasting. Ours took place in the outdoor La Teraza Grill restaurant, which is open every day from 11am – 4.30pm, except Monday´s. Their menu offers typical Canarian dishes and here you can sit and relax whilst admiring the surrounding shrubs and plants in an extremely tranquil setting.
All in all, a stop at Bodegas Stratus is both informative and enjoyable. The attention to detail, from the shining glasses, the floating candles on tabletops and the pristine plants and flowers in its garden areas, is unsurpassable and with their wines being extremely palatable, you will no doubt find yourself leaving with a bottle or two for enjoyment on your own terrace.
Wine tours – Monday – Sunday, by reservation, 10 euros per person.
Gourmet shop – Open everyday from 10.00 – 18.00
La Terraza Grill Restaurant – Open everyday except Monday´s.
Tel:- 928 809 977