This vineyard has been closed by since December 2013 but now Bodega Stratvs is reopening its doors in the next couple of weeks after a decision by the provincial court.
Bodega Stratvs, located on the LZ-30 that runs through the heart of La Geria on Lanzarote, first opened its doors in 2008 to great acclaim both on and off the island. The bodega, the child of wealthy local businessman Juan Francisco Rosa, was an instant hit with visitors to the island as well as to wine connoisseurs, winning various accolades at wine festivals in Spain and internationally.
The bodega, which cost €18 million to build, was more than a mere winery, however, selling top level artisan products in its on-site shop, as well as welcoming diners to the excellent restaurant and cafe. We stopped there regularly when living in Lanzarote and the dry white wine produced there remains one of my favourites.
It was also the home to one of Lanzarote’s best “belenes” (nativity scenes), featuring larger than life sculpture and live animals.
However, all that came crashing to a halt in December 2013 when the Stratvs was forcibly closed (pending a full trial) by Judge Silvia Muñoz at the provinvial court for falling majorly foul of planning permissions and ignoring local development laws – abusing Lanzarote’s status as a Biosphere Reserve. The bodega was soon surrounded by police tape, forbidding entry. The court order allowed for a potential closure of up to five years.
The news soon spread of the blatant lies told during the planning process, including the forgery of the architect’s wife’s signature. According to the planning application, the original buildings were to be preserved as far as possible – but were actually torn down and replaced with a group of buildings covering 12000 square metres (rather than than the permitted 9000 in the proposal).
The issues did not stop there. In all, 16 defendants were examined. The architect and joint owner, Miguel Angel Armas Matallana, the then mayor of Yaiza (Juan Francisco Reyes), today’s mayor of Yaiza (Gladys Acuña), local council employees from Yaiza, employees at the island’s cabildo and an environmental representative from the Canary Islands government – someone who should have been much more respectful of protected areas.
The bodega has been fighting the closure and on Monday January 2 2017, was granted its request, although that may change again at the final trial. Paperwork was submitted that apparently demonstrates that no water sources were being polluted, and neither was waste product contaminating the area – points that were integral to the initial court judgement. The claimants also argued that three years’ closure is unprecedented.
The decision has been met with incredulity among the complainants, including the association Transparencia Urbanística which claims that four evidence documents show Bodega Stratvs to bea “clandestine industry that lacks qualifying licenses to operate and has no legal support from council planning.”
Although Bodega Stratvs will soon be open again to the public and can reinstate trading… the court case still continues.
The provincial prosector described Bodega Stratvs as, “the worst environmental attack against Lanzarote since the island was declared a Biosphere Reserve by Unesco in 1993.”
The Office of the Public Prosecutor requests 15 years in prison for the owner of the Stratvs winery, Juan Francisco Rosa, for crimes of falsification in an official document, usurpation of property, acts against land management with serious damage to a protected natural space, and against the environment by illegal excavation in a protected space. Transparency Urbanística association, meanwhile, requested 21 years in prison by adding three alleged crimes of influence peddling.
The trial is set for June 19 to 24 2017.