Looking At A Year With 13 Moons

moon phases

Mallorca is pretty much a community governed by the moon, in literature, poetry, culture, mysticism, mythology and, of course, in agricultural traditions. At least this is true for the olden days. In Mallorcan heraldry, the moon, or rather the half moon, can be found in many a coat of arms of Mallorcan families. Ramon Llull for instance had one half moon in his family heraldry, the Verí family has three half moons in theirs, the Berga family has five half moons, the Burgues clan even has a crest with 10 half moons.

The spectacle of the sky overwhelms me. I’m overwhelmed when I see, in an immense sky, the crescent of the moon, or the sun.

Joan Miró, artist (1893 – 1983)

Any normal year has 12 moon cycles, one for every month but, every now and then, there are exceptions. Occasionally, we get a blue moon, a 13th full moon, one month of the year with two full moons. 2015 is such a year with 13 moons. This year, we will see two full moons during the month of July (2nd and 31st).

At Son Alegre, we take the Lunar calendar or rather, the Lunar phases as a guide to our Nature-based approach to agriculture. We have always observed the Lunar cycles, just the way our ancestors have done when it came to the tending of their land or the breeding of their animals. One might say that, traditionally, the Mallorcan farmers’ lives were governed by the moon much more than the sun.

At Son Alegre, we have chosen to respect these proven traditions and thus, we approach agriculture by following the Lunar phases and the stars’ constellations. For better or for worse, we believe that the weather patterns are shaped by the moon, the wind and the elements. We act on our convictions by respecting Nature’s energy.

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 has so far always been true to the land.

vines Son Alegre Mallorca

When it comes to wine making you might argue that all the wineries in Mallorca are working with the same components. Basically, they all work with the same grape varieties; the soil on which the vines grow can’t be all that different from one to another and surely, the climate should be the same on such a small island. And as far as the moon is concerned, clearly the same moon governs the south of the island as she does the west or the north. In a year with 13 moons, every single vineyard on the island should be influenced by this phenomenon just the same, shouldn’t it?

Well, think again.

It will surely all depend on what you deal with and then, how you deal with it all. For a start, the soil is not the same all over the island just as the geological composure is not the same throughout the island’s regions. Even within the same region, one can find soil formations which differ vastly from other ones across the street or round the corner. As for the climate, the wind or the weather, it all depends on where your land is situated, a bit higher up in altitude, a bit closer to the coast or the sea, south facing or not, in a sheltered valley perhaps or on the edge of a salt marsh. The components between one Mallorcan vineyard and the next can vary a hundredfold.

As for the question of how to deal with what you are given to start with, it all depends on your approach. You might elect to give up ploughing, as we have done, or refrain from fertilizing your land with commercial manure or compost like we do. You might aim for an organic way of producing your grapes or even set your sights on an approach by biodynamic principles as we do. We firmly believe that you get out of your land exactly what you give to it and we are convinced that Nature always knows best, at least in the long run.

raindrops Son Alegre Mallorca

We are proud of our work and we are grateful to Nature in general and to the moon in particular. If this year we have 13 reasons to be grateful for the moon’s cycles, we shall be happy to express our gratitude thirteen times. Thank you.

To Plough Or Not To Plough, That Is The Question

Son Alegre unploughed

When we first started our new vineyard we decided that we wanted to do things the right way. We had seen all around us how this island had changed over the last twenty or thirty years. How it was being treated as if there was no tomorrow and as if growth was the only option. Over the last 100 years or more, man has demanded more and more from our soil. We could not understand why everybody was participating in a race for more; more produce, more tourists, more income, more roads, more flights and more congestion. More of everything even though that would result in more stress and, ultimately, in a depletion of this island’s resources, whilst severely effecting the well-being of our children and of our grandchildren. This attitude might possibly endanger the future and the survival of Mallorca, this small paradise in the Mediterranean Sea.

We wanted to do our work in a responsible way and in a manner of sustainability. We wanted to stop depleting our resources, diminishing our natural assets and forever taking from our land. Instead, we wanted to start giving back to this island what it needed: health, dignity, repose and harmony. We decided that we would aim for an ecological balance on our land of give and take by aiming to keep our CO2 emissions as low as possible. We wanted to work the land as it had been a long time ago when our forefathers were in touch with nature and the elements and were respectful and grateful to the land that had nourished them and their ancestors. Our aim was to do things the organic way, even a bio-dynamic way which is an on-going opportunity to accommodate our fascination with the wonderful complexity of the natural world.


The land at Son Alegre had been ill-treated for so long. Years and years of ploughing with heavy tractors had effectively compacted the soil to a composition almost as hard as concrete. It was time to give the soil a bit of a rest.

Our land is composed of the Call Vermell soil, typical for many parts of Southeast Mallorca, a clay loam formation containing a high level of iron oxide and lime. This soil is interspersed with plenty of stones, characteristically preserving humidity a little bit longer than soil of a different makeup.

We started planting trees. First an olive grove (Olea europaea) and then an orchard of Algarrobos (Ceratonia siliqua, Carob trees). Since day one of our venture, we decided not to use any commercial fertilizers, be they chemical or natural, and we also decided not to plough the land. For us, to plough or not to plough was never the question. We knew that below the surface there was an active organism of life and natural nutrients that wanted to be left alone to be able to do their job; ants, worms, insects, amoebozoans and other little creatures, fungi and mycorrhiza. We knew that every time we upturned the soil by passing the plough over it, we would destroy and demolish the invisible structure that lay beneath the surface, a structure that we would need in order to nourish our land and our plants.

natural carob field

We started to plant our first vines. For one last time we had to use ploughing tractors to create the trenches where we would plant the rootstocks. After this, there would be no more ploughing. Yes, there are disadvantages to this way of gentle agriculture, drawbacks which would effect the soil. There is no doubt that ploughing aerates the land. If the soil is not aerated it might at times be deficient in water which would mean that we would have to irrigate the land whenever necessary. Luckily, Son Alegre has its own historic water source and the water is brought up by the use of solar panels, thus reducing carbon dioxide emissions.

Vinya Son Alegre Santanyi Mallorca_

The benefits of not ploughing the land are manifold. We neither disturb nor destroy the delicate composure of the living organisms (plants, animals and microbes) below the surface of our land. We do not diminish the nutrients which are being produced by the ecological partnership of ants, earthworms, minerals, nitrates, phosphates, fungi and mycorrhiza. Vegetative growth is stimulated and with it chlorophyll, in turn producing photosynthesis and thus, absorbing CO2. The policy of gentle intervention creates environmental peace and an equilibrium that attracts wildlife such as birds, insects, bees, butterflies and a multitude of creepy crawlers which in fact all help us decompose, nourish, fertilize and, of course, pollinate our vines and other plants. When we allow all living beings to exist underground in tranquility and balance they inadvertently help us and our work. Thus an environment is created which acts as a means of biological pest control, promoting biodiversity and generally benefitting the ecosystem and the biosphere in general.

son alegre_antholes

During the winter months, we also bring our sheep to graze the land between the rows of vines, helping to keep the ground cover at bay. At the same time the ruminants fertilize the land with their faeces, adding manure, essential elements and humus to the soil.

The more we honour the holistic interaction of our vine plants with the native flora, often mistakenly called weeds, and the influence of native insects, bugs and other tiny creatures, the more thriving and healthy our grapes will grow. In short, we simply allow nature to do its integrated and holistic task even if it may lead to smaller quantities of produce and a lower profit margin.

Our respect for Nature has so far given us good harvests. It may not always be perfect, but it is always in accordance with our sanity, health and peace of mind. We want our soil to remain of good use for future generations. We aim to give back to Nature what Nature has given us, forever more.

Nature is always the best.

Son Alegre sheep

Wishing You A Happy New Year


Happy New Year – Feliç Any Nou – Beatus Ianuariis – Gutes Neues Jahr – Bonan Novjaron – Bonne Année – Próspero Año Nuevo – Felice Anno Nuovo – Gelukkig Nieuwjaar – 年快樂 – Feliz Ano Novo – Gott Nytt År – Nollaig Chridheil Agus Bliadhna Mhath Yr – Godt Nytår – 明けましておめでとうございます – Mutlu Yıllar – Onnellista Uutta Vuotta – Nadolig Llawen a Blwyddyn Newydd Da – Blwyddyn Newydd Dda – с новым годом – Sretna Nova godina – Boldog Új Évet – سنة جديدة سعيدة  – Shona Bhliain Nua – שנה טובה ומבורכת – Hamingjusamur Nýtt Ár – புத்தாண்டு – E Ku Odun, Eku Iyedun – Շնորհավոր Նոր Տարի – Šťastný Nový Rok – 새해 복 많이 받으세요 – Urte Berri – සුභ නව වසරක් – Tau Hou hari – Godt Nyttår – ευτυχισμένο το νέο έτος.

Molts d’anys to all of you.