Feeling at Home

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Winemakers generally tend to be proud of their achievements, their masterly skills, their finesse and their crafty connoisseurship. We at Vinya Son Alegre, however, have not much time for such self-praise; in fact, we don’t think that we do all that much for our wine, really. It’s Nature who does it all for us – wind, sun, rain, the soil, the birds, the sheep, the ladybirds (Coccinellidae), the moon, insects, beetles, bugs and bees. Believe it or not, it’s all of these that make the wine. Our own input is only a marginal one and we try to reduce our involvement even further.

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Talking about the birds on our land for instance: we have observed that birds have multiplied in numbers and in species varieties since we started planting our vineyard at Son Alegre in the south-east of Mallorca, just north of the village of Santanyí. We must be doing something right in not doing so much to our vines that so many birds are feeling at home on our land. They are happy building their nests year after year and laying their eggs, to brood and to hatch the next generation of common wood pigeons (Columba palumbus), common quails (Coturnix coturnix), rock partridges (Alectoris graeca) or common pheasants (Phasianus colchicus).

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We have also seen the common cuckoo (Cuculus canorus) or should we better say, have heard him, and the common nightingale (Luscinia megarhynchos); again, heard, not seen.

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We believe that we have had visits from the Eurasian wryneck (Jynx torquilla), a member of the woodpecker family, as well as from the hoopoe (Upupa epops).

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We believe that we have evidence of the European bee-eater (Merops apiaster) but we have not found his nests or eggs yet. We are on the lookout, though.

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We have admired the Alpine swift (Apus melba) as well as the pallid swift (Apus pallidus), but they would build their nests not amongst our vines but under the roofs of our storage barns.

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There is evidence of the Eurasian golden oriole (Oriolus oriolus) on our land as there also is of the common starling (Sturnus vulgaris).

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We get the occasional visit from seagulls; the sea is not far from here and, during the hot months of summer, the embat current of air seems, for instance, to carry the black-headed gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus) or the European herring gull (Larus argentatus) to our estate. We do not believe, though, that they nest on our land. We are not sure, however; we are still learning about the wildlife happening before our very eyes.

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We believe that all these birds, and other species yet to be identified in time to come, feel at home on our land precisely for the same reasons that make our wine so special: it must be the fact that we leave them undisturbed and unmolested. We do not fumigate nor fertilize our land. We do not use pesticides. We do not plough the soil. We do not employ chemicals for any combat of wrongly so-called weeds, plant diseases or insects.

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We let Nature do its job and we do not assume that we know better. Nature has been making wine for over two thousand years here on the island of Mallorca and we are happy to step back a little to let Nature produce some more great wine for the next two thousand years.

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All we want to do is say thank you. Thank you, Nature, thank you, birds, thank you, wildlife. Thank you all.

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