The islands are volcanic in origin and the volcanoes on Tenerife, La Palma, and Lanzarote are still active. The most recent eruption was on La Palma in 1971. The landscape is mountainous with the highest point being Pico de Teide (12,198 feet /3,718 metres) on Tenerife.
The climate on the islands varies with the most rainfall in the mountains carried on northerly winds. There is eight to fifteen times more rain on Tenerife, Hierro, Gomera, and La Palma each year as that which falls on Fuerteventura and Lanzarote. The eastern islands are often affected by hot Sirocco winds from the Sahara. The average temperature is certainly mild and apart from in the mountains frost is virtually unknown.
Wine growing in the Canary Islands has a rich past, largely due to the fondness in Britain for Malvasian wine. This was a full-bodied and sweet wine that steered a middle course between a Madeira and a Spanish Oloroso sherry. It is very difficult to find a good Malvasia any more because of the extensive development in the direction of table wines during the 1980s and away from rancio, generoso, and such-like wines. This is partly due to the explosive development of tourism on the islands. The old vineyards were replanted with suitable native varieties to meet the demand for wine from tourists. The varieties chosen were Negramoll or Listan Negro.
The wine-making equipment was fully renewed and a good trade was created for local Spanish wines. The first Spanish area to achieve DO status was Tacoronte-Acentejo quickly followed by La Palma, El Hierro, Valle de la Orotava, Ycoden-Daute-Isora, Valle de Guimar, Abona, and Lanzarote).
The Canarian wines are mainly sold to local restaurants and shops, with the remainder going to the duty-free shops. Consequently few Canarian Spanish wines will ever be encountered outside the islands.
Because of this exceptional position the growers and cooperative bodegas can demand relatively high prices (in Spanish terms) for their wines. The DO territories from north-west to east are as follows.