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.
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.
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.