Three success stories at the Worldcanic discussion table


Three projects brought talks on the second day of the congress to a close, demonstrating that it is possible to make a living from a volcano: Wine Shop Lanzarote & Wine Tours, Ecofinca Vegacosta and Bodegas Vega de Yuco. 

Rafael Espino Curbelo, of Bodegas Vega de Yuco; Ollie Horton, of Wine Shop Lanzarote & Wine Tours and Toño Morales, of Ecofinca Vegacosta, moderated by journalist Elena Barrios, made up the round table on the second day of the Worldcanic congress. The theme: Making a living from volcanoes. Three projects showing how the unique landscape created in the wake of a volcanic eruption ushers in new business opportunities. 

In the case of Toño Morales, this is an eco-estate combining agriculture, gastronomy and tourism. Three divisions feeding off his family legacy, his professional qualifications and his eagerness to promote Lanzarote's cultural heritage. It is precisely that line of thought which drives his idea of setting up a Lanzarote interpretation centre to publicise the island's traditional agricultural traditions - unknown to the new generations - to taste local produce - restaurant included - and to organise events and presentations - a conference room will be provided. At the facility Morales will also have a direct sales outlet for local products. 

Ollie Horton, meanwhile, runs a company specialising in exporting the island's volcanic wine and beer to the United Kingdom and Ireland. He also offers experiential tours - with the option of virtual format - for small groups to showcase and promote the richness of Lanzarote produce. “The groups have people who have never tried wine, and also experts, but they're all impressed with the landscape, and they all want to know more about the island's culture".  

Rafael Espino has been running one of the Lanzarote Denomination of Origin's leading wineries since it opened in 1997. Like Toño, he comes from a family with ties to the land, and is making preparations for a new wine tourism project at the historic Finca Testeina house (16th century).

All three have run successful projects, but they agree that the trajectory was no easy task in a region where bricks and mortar have gradually replaced agriculture, mass tourism has replaced identity, and a lack of regulations has been replaced with better management of the island's heritage. It would, therefore, seem that things are changing, and for some years a stand for Lanzarote's cultural singularity, in all its aspects, is now gaining ground. Even so, the big problem remaining is the absence of regulations. “They regulated the hotels and the number of beds, but they left out agriculture, territory and livestock farming", says Toño. Three essential aspects in the construction of a people's identity. The missing regulations were confirmed by Ollie: "the regulations aren't clear, and there's no support to give initiatives a boost. Especially with regard to alternative offers. The world has changed, now people shy away from mass tourism, and they're looking for experiences. And the pandemic has heightened this. In our case, we work with small groups and small-scale producers, although obviously we visit the big wineries to give customers an idea of the size of the sector”. Rafa agreed: “we all agree where we're going, but there are no regulations. Man has transformed destruction into benefit, but we need regulations to help us protect and carry out our projects". He added: “we're being strangled by stagnancy, and we can't move forward without rules”.

They are all optimistic about the future. “We have something unique, something beautiful, a backdrop which is more than just sun and beaches. I have a lot of energy, and there are lots of ideas, but we need help to invest", insisted Ollie.

Toño, who runs his project along with his daughter, is a firm believer in the future. “We now have generations with the best education in our history, and we're sure what we want: gastronomy, sustainability, knowledge ... ten years ago there was no project encompassing several sectors, but when the "Saborea España" initiative emerged, and "Saborea Lanzarote" after that, we managed to scale it up. We all agree that we have to showcase the product, we have to show it to visitors, and we have to make a contribution to the landscape". Rafa adds: “we're all going down the same path, we have the same mindset, and although I make a stand for certain things, I'm optimistic about the future".




Vocento Gastronomía Vocento Gastronomía grupo Cabildo de Lanzarote Saborea Lanzarote


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