The Wine Museum, El Paso

The Wine Museum, El Paso
The Wine Museum, El Paso

The island’s wine museum stands just above La Glorieta Square.
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It’s a small museum, but it’s only 1.50€ for adults, and that includes a chance to taste a local wine or two.

Upstairs, the exhibition explains the methods and history of wine-making on the the island, and they have a nice collection of old tools used for growing wines or making barrels

Vines have been grown on La Palma since 1505, and they had a wonderful reputation in Europe. According to the tourist office, the Malmsey wine praised by Shakespeare and his contemporaries came from La Palma, although several other places produced it too. Certainly there was no mildew on the island at the time, which must have helped. Being an island effectively kept the grapes in quarantine. But once Santa Cruz de la Palma became a major port, it was only a matter of time, and mildew arrived in the 19th century.

It ruined the grapes, and with it, the winemakers, and the local grape varieties became scarce. Things didn’t really improve much until 1994 when La Palma got its “Designation of Origin”, which gave local produces a standard to aim for. Now we have a wide variety of certified wines.

Most of the varieties of wine on La Palma
Most of the varieties of wine on La Palma

Why so many on such a small island?

Partly it’s the variety of grapes, but mostly it’s due to the micro-climates. In the wetter, northern end of the island, the vines are trained above head height to reduce the chance of mildew. In the drier south, they’re trained low to the ground to stop them drying out (and harvesting them must be back-breaking work).

A wine press, La Glorieta wine museum, El Paso
A wine press, La Glorieta wine museum

Outside, different varieties of grape vines fill a little garden. Best of all, at the back there’s a little bodega or wine house, with the original wine press.

Like most places, the grapes were taken to the local wine press. The grapes went in the open box at the top, the juice (or must) came out of the gutter and in the bucket, which is full of holes so as to strain it.

Wine Barrels, La Glorieta Wine museum, El Paso, La Palma island
Wine Barrels at La Glorieta Wine museum

Of course the juice had to be stored in barrels until it was ready to drink. Or alternatively, in a wine skin. This one’s made from the skin of a goat.

Wine skin made from goat at La Glorieta wine museum, El Paso, La Palma
Wine skin made from goat at La Glorieta wine museum

This article has 5 Comments

  1. Dear Shirley, i am a regular visitor and reader of your very interesting website (and of course of La Palma, especially Tijarafe). Until now i missed a nice topic about the Museo Etnografico Casa del Maestro in Tijarafe. Please make a visit there, it is very interesting. The lady in charge there is dutch, married with a Palmero!!!
    Coen Rooseboom

  2. I’ve been meaning to get there for some time, but between health problems and trying to finish a book, I haven’t managed to make time yet. Soon, I hope!

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