Another shared aspect of the terroir at both of our sites is the Call Vermell soil, a clay loam formation containing plenty of iron oxide and lime. Our land is also interspersed with plenty of stones, characteristically preserving humidity a little bit longer than soil of a different makeup.
Viticulture for us is an on-going opportunity to accommodate our fascination with the wonderful complexity of the natural world. We employ classic methods of hands-on wine making and oenology by practising only hand-harvesting, gentle pneumatic press production, native wild yeast fermentations, and fine French oak barriques for ageing.
When evaluating a wine, the grape variety is perhaps of secondary concern. One distinguishes the primary aroma of the grape variety from the secondary aroma, which depends on the type of soil on which the vines grew. Often it is not the choice of components that makes a wine taste the way it does, but rather where those components are grown, the microclimatic conditions in that particular location and the type of soil makeup giving nourishment to the wine plant.
At Son Alegre, we currently cultivate 10 hectares (approx. 25 acres) of vines on two sites, one on the edge of Santanyí in the area between Son Danus and Ses Angoixes, and the other in the nearby area of Can Taconer on the outskirts of Calonge. Both vineyards benefit from the Serra de Llevant’s moderating impact on climate as well as from the thermic conditions of the coastal area, at 5 to 7 km from the Mediterranean Sea to the South-East and 12 to 14 km distant to the West.
The particular meteorological conditions of our land effectively present us with average temperatures of one to two degrees Celsius lower than comparative terrains further inland. This is due to cooler air coming in from the colder sea, meeting with warmer air, heated up from the warmer land and thus regularly creating a fresh current of air during the hot afternoon hours of summer, a phenomenon known locally as s’Embat.
Organic wine from Santanyí is made with nature’s help.
Son Alegre Vinicultors is dedicated to growing grapes in harmony with nature.
Son Alegre wine is a product of the love for our farmland.
Everything depends on the circle of things, the pattern of nature, the cycle of the elements.
At Son Alegre, one very important implement for our working the land is the Lunar calendar. A Nature-based approach to agriculture might reap harvests with a lesser yield, but may make for a better quality crop, and a more organic wine. We have always observed the Lunar calendar and the moon’s phases, just the way our forbears have done when it came to pruning their fruit trees, grafting plums onto almond tree branches, planting new trees, sowing their crop, harvesting their wine, mating their sows, sheep or horses, or even having their hair cut. One might even say that, traditionally, the Mallorcan farmers’ lives were governed by the moon much more than the sun.
At Son Alegre, we have chosen to return to these proven traditions and thus, we approach agriculture by following the Lunar phases, the planets and stars and their constellations, the weather patterns and the dynamics of biorhythm, following the Rudolf Steiner way of looking at nature and the influence of the moon and the elements.
The cycles of the moon
Traditionally, the grape harvest is related to the cycles of the moon. For instance, the fortnight between the New Moon and the Full Moon in January is the time to prune the previous year’s vines back to the woody-stemmed plant. Our vendimia, the grape harvest, usually starts with the New Moon in August. Ever since we started our activities at Son Alegre, we have been guided by the Lunar calendar and, so far, we have been rewarded with good results. It may not be perfect every year but it is always true to the land.
We are proud of our work and we are grateful to the moon, to Nature in general, to all our many helpers such as indigenous wild flowers and the wildlife on our land. To all of them we are truly grateful.
The Moon Phases
What is Biodynamics?
…. you must learn to see into the workings of Nature in all her different domains. Then you will really take the processes of growth in hand. (We shall afterwards see the same for animal growth - animal normalities and abnormalities). To get the growth-processes in hand - that is the really important thing. To experiment at random on these matters, as is done today, is no real science. The mere jotting-down of isolated notes and facts - that is no science.
Real science only arises when you begin to control the working forces. But the living plants and animals - even the parasites in the plants - can never be understood by themselves. What I said in our first lesson when I referred to the magnet-needle is only too true. Anyone who thought of the magnet-needle alone - anyone who looked in the magnet-needle itself for the causes of its always turning northward - would be talking nonsense. We do not do so; on the contrary, we take the whole Earth and assign to it a magnetic North Pole and a magnetic South. The whole Earth must be included in our explanation.
Just as we draw in the whole Earth to understand the properties of the magnet-needle, so, when we come to the living plants, we must not merely look at the plant or animal or human world; we must summon all the Universe into our counsels! Life always proceeds from the entire Universe - not only out of what the Earth provides. Nature is a great totality; forces are working from everywhere. He alone can understand Nature who has an open sense for the manifest working of her forces.
What does science do nowadays? It takes a little plate and lays a preparation on it, carefully separates it off and peers into it, shutting off an every side whatever might be working into it. We call it a “microscope”. It is the very opposite of what we should do to gain a relationship to the wide spaces. No longer content to shut ourselves off in a room, we shut ourselves off in this microscope tube from all the glory of the world. Nothing must now remain but what we focus in our field of vision.
By and by it has come to this: scientists always have recourse, more or less, to their microscope. We, however, must find our way out again into the macrocosm. Then we shall once more begin to understand Nature - and other things too.
[Rudolf Steiner, Spiritual Foundations for the Renewal of Agriculture.
The Agriculture Course: Lecture 6 (excerpt). Koberwitz Palace, Koberwitz, Silesia (now Kobierzyce, Poland), June 14th, 1924]
At Vinya Son Alegre in Santanyí (Mallorca), we aim to apply Natural Farming methods as developed and promoted by Masanobu Fukuoka (1913 - 2008). This Japanese farmer and philosopher was celebrated for his method of Natural Farming and re-vegetation of desertified, arid land.
One day, Fukuoka realized that nature was perfect just as it was. Problems in nature only arise when people try to improve upon nature and use nature strictly for human benefit. He became a proponent of no-till, no-herbicide grain cultivation farming methods traditional to many indigenous cultures, from which he created a particular method of farming, commonly referred to as “Natural Farming” or “Do-nothing Farming”.
He summarized his experience in the Four Principles of Natural Farming.
• The earth cultivates itself, observed Fukuoka. There is no need for man to do what roots, worms, and microorganisms do better. Furthermore, ploughing the soil alters the natural environment and promotes the growth of weeds. Therefore, his first principle was: No ploughing or turning of the soil.
• Secondly, in an unaltered natural environment the orderly growth and decay of plant and animal life fertilizes the soil without any help from man. Fertility depletion occurs only when the original growth is eliminated in favour of soil-exhausting food crops or grasses to feed cattle. Adding chemical fertilizers helps the growing crop but not the soil, which continues to deteriorate. Therefore Fukuoka's second principle is: No chemical fertilizers or prepared compost. Instead he promotes cover crops like clover and alfalfa, which are natural fertilizers.
• Weeds are the enemy of the farmer. Fukuoka observed that when he ceased ploughing, his weed population declined sharply. This occurred because ploughing actually stirs deep-lying weed seeds and gives them a chance to sprout. Tillage therefore is not the answer to weeds. Nor are chemical herbicides, which disrupt nature's balance and leave poisons in the earth and water. There is a simpler way. To begin with, weeds need not be wholly eliminated; they can be successfully suppressed by spreading straw over freshly sown ground and by planting ground cover. No weeding by tillage or herbicides is Fukuoka's third principle.
• Finally, what to do about pests and blights? As Fukuoka's grain fields and orchards came more and more to resemble a natural ecology - with the proliferation of plant varieties growing all in a jumble - they also created a nature-like habitat for small animals. In such a habitat, Fukuoka noted that nature's own balancing act prevented any one species from gaining the upper hand. Left to itself, nature prefers hardier stock. Fukuoka's fourth principle is: No dependence on chemical pesticides.
(Most of the information on the Four Principles of Natural Farming was taken from the website The One-Straw Revolution and can be studied there in greater detail.)
The Four Principles of Natural Farming
According To Masanobu Fukuoka
Nature is always our inspiration