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After the eruptions of 1730-1736, the central part of the island, the most fertile, was covered by lava and volcanic ash. A short time later they began planting grapevines and fruit trees, either by removing part of the volcanic ash or by making holes through the lava (“chabocos”), in order to reach the soil apt for cultivation.
See more: [Si se pincha, se vería el Pdf del trabajo El nacimiento del vino de Lanzarote. Disponible solo en español]
THE OLDEST BODEGA IN THE CANARY ISLANDS
The covered wine press dates from 1775, as can be seen from the inscription on the foundation, and was raised by the Venerable Beneficiary of the parochial church of Teguise Don Antonio de Torres Ribera. El Grifo, currently a 40-hectare plantation, was one of his properties.
THE FIRST YEARS
Antonio de Torres Ribera inherited some of the fields of El Grifo, which his parents had owned before the eruptions of 1730, and went on to complete the plantation and planted the grapevines. He also built, apart from the press, the primitive bodega (which is currently the museum) and the house.
He named his nephew Bartolomé de Torres as his inheritor under the condition that he erect a chaplaincy of mass prayer in El Grifo. In 1803 Antonio de Torres died, survived by his nephew.
Another niece of Don Antonio, Gabriella de Torres, who was born and lived in Cuba, made a legal reclamation against Bartolomé in the Arrecife courthouse for the property of the plantation, alleging that he hadn’t fulfilled the requirements of his uncle’s will and testament.
THE SECOND FAMILY
Fearing the negative judgement, which finally happened, Bartolomé de Torres sold the property surreptitiously to the De Castro family, Between the years 1817 and 1824.
Depending on the exact date, which is unknown, the plantation was acquired by Ginés De Castro Estevez, militia captain and twice mayor of Arrecife.
Ginés de Castro y Álvarez was also the author of the eruption chronicles of 1824, when he was the Island Mayor, in which he mentions El Grifo as a place from which noises and underground tremors could be heard. He was administrator of El Grifo until his death in 1833.
THE TWO SISTERS
On the death of their bother Ginés in 1833, their father’s inheritance was divided between the two surviving sisters: Antonia y Rosalía de Castro y Álvarez.
The first, Antonia, married Policarpo de Medinilla, knight of the Order of Christ and the consul of Portugal in the Canary Islands. They had a son, José de Medinilla y Castro, who was also Mayor of Arrecife. In the 70s of the XIX century, José’s son, Policarpo Medinilla Morales, sold his part of El Grifo to Manuel García Durán, the great-grandfather of the current owners.
The second daughter, Rosalía de Castro, married second lieutenant Barreto, who died soon after. Rosalía, upon becoming a widow, moved from San Bartolomé to El Grifo, where she died in 1868 at the age of 85. Her daughter, María del Carmen Barreto y Castro, who married José Lubary, died before her own mother. Thus, their part of the inheritance went to Rosalía and her grandchildren. These grandchildren, one by one, sold off their parts to Manuel García Durán during the 70s of the XIX century.
THE CURRENT FAMILY
Manuel García Durán, on his return from Puerto Rico where he had been managing agricultural property, began acquiring the parts of El Grifo from the inheritors of the sisters Antonia and Rosalía de Castro. This buying process took place over the decade 1870-1880. He was able to drive this initiative due to the fact that he had inherited some of the lands belonging to El Grifo from his father, Gonzalo García Durán.
We still have various accounting books of his from the end of the XIX century and the beginning of the XX century. In these books we can see where and to whom he sold his wine (which he also exported to Cuba and Puerto Rico in small quantities) as well as the prices and volume of harvests from some years. We conserve some of his wines in the Bodega. He died in 1912.
FROM GENERATION TO GENERATION
His daughter, Manuela García [-Durán] Parilla, married to the Lanzarote doctor Fermín Rodríguez Bethencourt, inherited El Grifo. Upon her death, and after a period where her son, Dr. Manuel R. Bethencourt, directed the bodega from Madrid, the inheritance of El Grifo fell upon Manuel’s sister (daughter of Manuela and Fermín). She was Antonia Rodríguez-Bethencourt, married to married to Juan José Otamendi Soravilla, parents of the two current owners.
SUMMARY: The uncle and nephew De Torres owned the bodega for approximately 45 years, the Venerable Don Antonio de Torres was the one responsible for most of the old buildings.
Afterwards, the de Castro family owned El Grifo between 1820 and 1880, approximately 60 years and three generations. Finally, the current family have been owners since 1880 over five generations, taking into account Gonzalo García Durán (who owned lands which are now part of El Grifo), father of Manuel García Durán, great great-grandfather and great-grandfather respectively, of the current owners. They built the current bodega next to the older buildings, which have been preserved as a museum.