Harvesting Olives at Son Alegre


This week and last we started this year’s olive harvest at Son Alegre. Our one thousand plus olive trees of the Arbequina variety are doing very nicely, thank you very much. We planted the trees in 2004 and they have not been sprayed with pesticides, insecticides or herbicides for almost ten years now. Neither have we treated our land or our trees with growth enhancing substances such as fertilisers, be they of synthetic or organic nature. Although we would be allowed to use some organic pest repellents we abstain from such interference because we do not want to disturb the biodiversity of our olive grove that we have so carefully encouraged and maintained over the years. Using organic insect-repellent sprays such as Kaolin, a silicate clay mineral, would undoubtedly give us a higher yield when it comes to harvesting the olives but the downside would be a product of a lesser quality and this is not what Son Alegre stands for.


We are very particular about collecting our olives just before they all reach complete maturity with the presence of three colour olives on each tree – green, purple and black. This way we are assured a maximum quality of our SILEO Extra Virgin Olive Oil. If we waited any longer we might well achieve a higher yield but would receive an oil of a lesser quality.


For maximum freshness we always take our olives to the oil mill on the same day of the harvest. In fact, every year our olives are the first ones of the new season to be pressed at the oil mill. As always, we collaborate with the Cooperativa Agrícola de Sant Bartomeu in Sóller, famed for their gentle handling of the olives and renowned for their output of oil of the best quality.


This year, Mallorcan olive production in general has suffered a downturn in quantities due to the climatic conditions on the island throughout the year and the absence of any significant rainfall. At Son Alegre, our harvest was down by about one third compared to the previous year. This week and last, we harvested a total of 2,896 kilogrammes of olives, giving us a total of 404 litres of olive oil with an acidity level of only 0.5%. This will give us no more than 800 bottles of Sileo Extra Virgin Olive Oil of 500 ml each. The oil is now in the oil press in a state of non-intervention and repose before the bottling process takes place, probably in January 2017.

Sileo 2

Bon profit.

Meeting Our Most Valuable Helper, The Ladybird


There is a debate as to what might be the most important bird, insect, beetle, animal or other living organism in a wine growing agricultural land such as ours at Vinya Son Alegre in Santanyí (Mallorca). There is no doubt that we could not do without the honeybee (Apis mellifera), the ant (Formicidae) or the earthworm (Hormogastridae), but truthfully, we would be out of business or rather, out of grapes if it were not for the Ladybird or Lady beetle (Coccinellidae). Honest.

Ladybird Coccinellidae (John Hinde)

You see, at a farm where the land is cultivated under biodynamic principles and where the fruit, in our case the grape, is grown under organic conditions, you will suffer, like it or not, from certain pests, such as lice, moths, parasites or similar. That’s why most vineyards in Mallorca, or certainly a great many of our competitors employ pesticides or other chemical agents to combat such potential harm or mischief.

ladybird (John Hinde)

We, instead, employ an army of Ladybirds or, as we call them here, Mariquitas (Spanish) or Marietes (Catalan). Our little helpers actually eat these harmful pests, or rather, eat their eggs before they even hatch. Each single Marieta can eat up to 200 eggs of small lice or moth or other parasites. 200 eggs, imagine. Assume a figure of 1,000 Ladybirds in our army and you’ll have 200,000 unborn lice, per day. No wonder that our vines are doing so well, lately; we can’t complain.

For more information about our wines, please visit our new website, Vinya Son Alegre. It is ready now in English, and about to be completed soon in German, Spanish and Catalan. It’s a lot of work, doing a website in four languages simultaneously, but there you go. Our little Ladybirds never complain, so, we’ll refrain from making a fuss, just the same.