With the support of TUI Care Foundation Miguel Angel Robayna is now cultivating his grapes on Lanzarote organically
This autumn, Miguel Angel Robayna is harvesting bio grapes in La Geria for the second time. In the vineyards the sweet Malvasía Volcánica, as well as the fruity Listán Blanco, Listán Nero and Muscat, have been growing for generations. Supported by funds from the TUI Care Foundation as well as by the expert advice and workers from local project partners Ecopalmer and Grevislan, Robayna started to grow his grapes biologically in 2015.
In an area of 122,000 square metres, the plant funnels, which are unique for the vineyards of La Geria, have been restored. Five winegrowers convert to organic farming and, as a result, generate higher revenues. In an interview, Miguel Angel Robayna reports on his experiences from the project.
Mr. Robayna, what has the promotion brought you?
Robanya: Without it, I could not have managed it so easily. A change means making investments, adopting other ways of working. I had hesitated because I did not want to be left experimenting on my own. The possibility of being able to participate in the funding project gave me the final push.
What was the biggest change for you?
R: Fertilizing using compost. That is, so to speak, the heart of the whole thing. In the past 20 years we had used chemical fertilizers here as if it was simply a matter of course. And then last year trucks came along and downloaded the ingredients at our Finca: one-third of the energy, for that you take the marc that is rich in sugar, that is, what is left when the grapes have been pressed. One-third organic material and one-third dung.
And how do you make compost from it?
R: We mix the ingredients, add water to them, put them in a heap and cover them so they do not dry out. The mixture heats up to 65°C during fermentation. Angel Mallor showed me all that. He is a forester and runs the organic horticultural farm Ecopalmer on Lanzarote, which was the partner of the TUI Care Foundation in this project.
Do you also have to water the vines in this desert climate?
R: No, the rain is enough. That is the special feature of the dry field cultivation, which we have been employing here for more than 200 years. For Lanzarote, it was a great moment when the farmers realized that the Picón is also a blessing. The technique is passed on here from generation to generation.
With organic cultivation, you are also making use of ancient methods, isn't that right?
R: That's why it fits in well with the funnels. In them, the vines stand isolated and at a distance from each other, so that they can spread their roots well and do not leach the soil. We cut the vines in such a way that the wind sweeps through foliage and grapes. This reduces the yield but protects against fungal attack.
On Lanzarote there are 1,800 winegrowers with a total of over 4,500 acres of land. How many of them are working according to biological rules today?
R: In the meantime, we are 34 with a total of 271 certified acres. And the number is increasing.
Does the wine made from your grapes taste different now?
R: Organic wine always tastes a little more authentic, more individual. This is also because the biological makers do not manipulate the aromas. What is unfolding is the result of the grapes alone.
And do the grapes also make more money?
MAR: Yes. For a kilo of conventionally grown grapes you get up to 1.50 Euros, for organic grapes almost double. Last year we sold 600 kilos. You cannot live from that. We all do that as a sideline - and for love of the wine, of course.
About the Project:
With La Geria TUI Care Foundation supports a project to preserve the cultural heritage of traditional winemaking, by developing ecological winemaking on the island and providing locals with disabilities new opportunities for employment. LEARN MORE