The Soil Has the Last Word


Son Alegre‘s Miquel Manresa was recently asked to give an interview by the new magazine ConCiencia, published in Palma on a monthly basis and now only in its second month. The interview was published in the issue of December 2016 under the heading ‘La tierra tiene la última palabra‘ (The soil has the last word). We at Son Alegre are very happy about this published feature and would like to give you the opportunity to see and read it for yourself.


For those of our friends who might struggle a bit with the Spanish language, here is a brief translation of the interview:


Vineyard Son Alegre

The owner of Son Alegre, Miquel Manresa, proudly shows us his vineyard, a perfect example of how Nature looks after herself.

Our walk begins by listening to the “sound of the earth”. This man is in love with his work and his vineyard; he lets us participate in his dialogue. He speaks with each stone, with each branch, and each animal or insect, thanking them for their contribution and collaboration so that this land enables the fruit produce to give us the best 100% ecological wine.

The land is doing the cultivating process all on its own. There is no need for us humans to do what roots, worms and microorganisms can do best. In addition, the act of ploughing the soil alters the natural environment and promotes the growth of weeds. Miquel tells us with absolute conviction that only through respect and love of Nature we can find the balance and harmony we have lost and which we do need so much.

Miquel continues to tell us that the vineyard is cultivated according to the principles of Fukuoka [1] which implies a “total respect for Nature and the environment”.

The particular weather conditions of our land give our wine the unique and special qualities it has. The cold air coming from the sea is reacting with the warmer air which has been heated by its contact with the warm earth and this encounter generates a fresh air stream during the hot summer afternoons.

We tend to believe that it is the grape which gives the wine its flavour, when it really is the land on which the grapes are cultivated which creates its particular taste. This is due to the typology of the soil, providing some elementary nutrients to the vines and also partly due to the microclimate of the area.

At Son Alegre we grow vines on 15 hectares at two different locations, one on the edge of Santanyí, in the area between Son Danus and Ses Angoixes, and the other one in the neighbouring area of Can Taconer in Calonge.

For us, growing the grapes is an opportunity to live out our fascination for the wonderful complexity of the natural environment. We use the classical methods of practice in viticulture and oenology. The grape harvest is done only by hand and in crates, the pressing is done the traditional way, the fermentations are facilitated with indigenous natural yeasts and the barrels used for the ageing of the wine are made of French oak.

At Son Alegre, a very important tool for our work is the lunar calendar. By observing the phases of the moon, the way our ancestors always have done it, we know the most propitious time for the pruning of our fruit, the grafting of plum on to almond branches, the planting of new trees, the planting of cereals, the harvesting of our grapes, the mating of pigs, sheep or horses, or even the cutting of our hair.

He speaks very animatedly, explaining all the intricacies of the finca, that we find it slightly difficult to follow and, more so, transcribe so much information in a single interview.

Nature creates and gives peace, supports us and helps us to find a balanced state of equilibrium, just what is needed so badly in our times. Here, the conversation focuses on education and the importance of keeping children in permanent contact with a natural and healthy environment. *

* ConCiencia and MundoFeliz propose to our readers to use this special set-up to hold workshops for schoolchildren, to give the young ones an opportunity to connect with the land.

We could spend hours and hours talking to a person who conveys so much ancestral wisdom, learned through the work which he carries out day by day in his vineyard, being continually connected with Nature which he loves and so deeply respects.

Miquel, it would be an honour for us to have you at some of our conferences and events. You will always have a special space in our magazine. And of course, we will taste your wines!

To which he responds, with his usual relaxedness, being as calm and cheerful as is his land, that he will gladly share his knowledge with us, our readers and friends.

See you soon, Miquel.


[1] The Principles of Fukuoka:

Do not plough or turn the soil: In this way the structure and composition of the soil is maintained with its optimal conditions of humidity and micronutrients.

Do not use chemical fertilizers or prepared compost: Through the interaction of the different botanical, animalistic and mineral elements of the soil, the fertility of the cultivated soil is regenerated as in any non-domesticated ecosystem.

Do not use herbicides or weed killers: These destroy the nutrients and microorganisms of the soil, and are only justified in monocultures. Instead, Fukuoka proposes an interaction of plants to enrich and control the biodiversity of the soil.

Do not use chemical pesticides: These also kill the natural richness of the soil. The presence of insects in farming can be healthy.

Do not prune: Allow the plant growth to follow its natural course.

Use clay seed balls.

These fundamental working principles are based on a philosophy of Do- Nothing (Wu Wei), or more accurately, of not intervening or forcing things.

Fukuoka reached a degree of comprehension of the microsystems of the soil and devised a system of farming that desists from unnecessary tillage and unnecessary endeavours of traditional agriculture. His method, which he sometimes called Natural Agriculture Mahāyāna, is based on starting to give and to then receive in a natural way, rather than be demanding on the soil until it is exhausted.

Soundscapes in the Vineyard


One tends to underestimate the influence and, perhaps, importance of sound in agricultural practice, or even in life in general. Sound constitutes an integral part of the identity of any given piece of nature or any particular piece of land. Like a human fingerprint or DNA, any given piece of landscape, a vineyard for example, has a unique and individual sound profile or sound identity which ultimately distinguishes the piece of land, let’s say the vineyard, in a singular and, quite possibly, unrepeatable way.


A vineyard in Pollença, for example, has by the particular nature of its ecological, natural and geologic components and constituents, a different composition of sounds, tones, acoustic vibes and bioacoustic signals when compared to a vineyard in Banyalbufar or another one in Santanyí. A vineyard in Mallorca has a different ‘soundprint’ or sound ‘DNA’ from one in La Rioja and a Spanish wine field has a different sound definition from one in France or another one in California. Even a vineyard in Santanyí like ours at Son Alegre has a different sound ‘persona’ from another vineyard just down the road, let’s say, in Cas Concos des Cavaller.


Some of the sounds in the vineyard us humans can hear, such as animals, the wind, rainfall, thunder or birds, whereas other sounds are not decipherable by the human ear due to their pitch or frequency. The human hearing range is commonly given as 20 to 20,000 Hertz. The frequency of sound pulses of ants, moths or other insects can be as high as 30,000 Hz and thus, can’t be heard by us, whereas the sound frequency of anurans (frogs, toads, amphibians) can be as low as 6 Hz and are equally inaudible to us.


But there is even sound created or caused by plants, by minerals and other organic, non-animal matter. Trees make a sound and are even said to communicate, as do mycorrhizæ (fungi which grow in association with the roots of a plant). The earth structure in the Lithosphere and further below makes a sound, too. In fact, one might say that there is nothing on Earth, or even nothing in the Universe, which is totally silent and without any sound. Sound defines anything and everything, be we aware of it or not. Human capacity to hear or decipher sound or noise is not the criteria for the existence of acoustic signatures or sound structures or Bioacoustics.

Soundscape ecology is the bio- and geo-acoustic branch of ecology that studies acoustic signatures from whatever source within a landscape (the soundscape). The soundscape of a given region can be viewed as the sum of three separate sound sources: Geophony is the first sound heard on earth. Non-biological in nature, it consists of the effect of wind in trees or grasses, water flowing in a stream, waves at an ocean or lake shoreline, and movement of the earth. Biophony is a term introduced by soundscape ecologist, Bernie Krause, who in 1998, first began to express the soundscape in terms of its acoustic sources. The biophony refers to the collective acoustic signatures generated by all sound-producing organisms in a given habitat at a given moment. It includes vocalizations that are used for conspecific communication in some cases. Anthropophony is another term introduced by Bernie Krause along with colleague, Stuart Gage. It represents human sources from heavily populated urban regions usually contains information that was intentionally produced for communication with a sound receiver. The expression in various combinations of these acoustic features across space and time generate unique soundscapes.

(quoted from Wikipedia, thank you very much)


Soundscape ecologists seek to investigate the structure of soundscapes, explain how they are generated, and study how organisms interrelate acoustically. A number of hypotheses have been proposed to explain the structure of soundscapes, particularly elements of biophony. For instance, an ecological theory known as the acoustic adaptation hypothesis predicts that acoustic signals of animals are altered in different physical environments in order to maximize their propagation through the habitat. In addition, acoustic signals from organisms may be under selective pressure to minimize their frequency (pitch) overlap with other auditory features of the environment. This acoustic niche hypothesis is analogous to the classical ecological concept of niche partitioning. It suggests that acoustic signals in the environment should display frequency partitioning as a result of selection acting to maximize the effectiveness of intraspecific communication for different species. Observations of frequency differentiation among insects, birds, and anurans support the acoustic niche hypothesis. Organisms may also partition their vocalization frequencies to avoid overlap with pervasive geophonic sounds. For example, territorial communication in some frog species takes place partially in the high frequency ultrasonic spectrum. This communication method represents an evolutionary adaptation to the frogs’ riparian habitat where running water produces constant low frequency sound. Invasive species that introduce new sounds into soundscapes can disrupt acoustic niche partitioning in native communities, a process known as biophonic invasion. Although adaptation to acoustic niches may explain the frequency structure of soundscapes, spatial variation in sound is likely to be generated by environmental gradients in altitude, latitude, or habitat disturbance. These gradients may alter the relative contributions of biophony, geophony, and anthrophony to the soundscape. For example, when compared with unaltered habitats, regions with high levels of urban land-use are likely to have increased levels of anthrophony and decreased physical and organismal sound sources. Soundscapes typically exhibit temporal patterns, with daily and seasonal cycles being particularly prominent. These patterns are often generated by the communities of organisms that contribute to biophony. For example, birds chorus heavily at dawn and dusk while anurans call primarily at night; the timing of these vocalization events may have evolved to minimize temporal overlap with other elements of the soundscape.

(quoted from Wikipedia, thank you very much)


Back to Son Alegre and our vineyard. We do not pretend that the soundscapes at Son Alegre make or shape our wine but we are certain that there is an effect of everything upon anything. The biophonic sound spectres and the bioacoustic ‘soundprint’ of our land are unique, distinguished and individual and affect our wines in a very particular and exceptional way, just as our soil does, which is also very singular, as do the meteorological conditions of our land, as do our organic agricultural practises and our biodynamic approach to farming. The sound does not make our wine but, without any question or the slightest doubt, Son Alegre wines would be different if the conditions, acoustic or otherwise, under which they are produced, would be distinct. Our wines are like no other wines, anywhere.


Omnis est sonus. All is sound.


The graphic spectrogram illustrations above were borrowed from the Internet, courtesy of and However, these graphic images do not represent the soundscapes of our land at Son Alegre nor its acoustic DNA. The photographic images were taken by John Hinde on our finca in Santanyí.

Tot és so.

Hailing Permaculture

Permaculture Son Alegre Santanyí Mallorca

We could tell you lots about Son Alegre wines, Mallorcan wines in general or our grape varieties and so forth but we prefer to direct you to the basics of wine making. Soil is the main ingredient for wine making, believe it or not. There would be no wine without the soil and there would be no wine of any quality if wine makers did not respect the soil, if we did not regard nature as a holistic organism, if farmers did not esteem the elements and if society did not adopt the philosophy of working with instead of against nature.

According to Bruce Charles “Bill” Mollison (born 1928 in Stanley, Tasmania):

Permaculture is a philosophy of working with, rather than against nature; of protracted and thoughtful observation rather than protracted and thoughtless labor; and of looking at plants and animals in all their functions, rather than treating any area as a single product system.

Introduction to Permaculture, Bill Mollison, Tasmania, Australia: Tagari (1991)

Yesterday, May 3rd 2015, Vinya Son Alegre was invited to participate in an event celebrating the International Day of Permaculture at Caroline Sulzer’s Finca Som Terra near Cas Concos des Cavaller (Felanitx). We are glad we went and we are proud to be part of a movement of sustainable, regenerative and ecologic agriculture here in Mallorca.

Som Terra

Finca Som Terra and other Mallorcan setups, also related to Permaculture, such as Escola Kumar in Marratxí, Finca Son Barrina in Llubí and Ses Aigües in S’Horta, are doing a terrific job in trying to apply the methods of Permaculture to areas of daily living in a more sustainable, economic, ecologic and efficient manner. Check out Finca Som Terra on Facebook, PermaMed on the Internet or watch the following video clip on Vimeo.

Permaculture and organic agriculture ought not to be, however, celebrated only one day a year. Nature and our respect for it should be an ongoing concern, year in, year out.

Permaculture Son Alegre Santanyí Mallorca 2

At Son Alegre we are trying to treat our soil in a responsible, sustainable way by doing very little. We do not plough our fields, we do not use commercial fertilizers, we do not spray any chemicals nor other, non-organic matter. In short, we simply allow nature to do its job, to fulfill its integrated and holistic task even if that may lead to smaller quantities and to 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. And it is always in accordance with the way farming was done for thousands of years – sane, natural and humane.

Establishing a New Vineyard

Camp d'en Ventura Santanyí Mallorca  2

Just over three weeks ago, right before the February full moon, we planted our new vineyard at Camp d’en Ventura, just outside Calonge (Santanyí/Mallorca), at the foot of the sloping hills of the Serra de Llevant. During that phase of the moon, the gravitational pull is lessening whist the moonlight strengthens and there tends to be more moisture in the soil. As it happened, we had to abandon our planting task due to excessive rainfalls and were obliged to wait for three days before we could send the planting tractor in again to continue the planting operation of our new rootstock.

Camp d'en Ventura Santanyí Mallorca  1

Whilst in our vineyard at Son Alegre outside Santanyí we have Chardonnay and Malvasía white grapes as well as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah and Petit Verdot blue grapes, we opted to plant vines with different grape varieties at Camp d’en Ventura, such as Callet red grapes and Giró Ros white grapes. In total, we planted some 5,200 vines over a total expansion of 18,000 square metres. The newly planted grapes won’t mature until 2017/18 and wine from the bunches of grapes will not be ready until 2018 at the earliest. Patience is the key ingredient in wine making and haste is your enemy number one.

Camp d'en Ventura Santanyí Mallorca  3

The soil here at Camp d’en Ventura is of a similar character to the one in Son Alegre. It is of the Call Vermell composition, which is a fertile clay loam formation containing plenty of iron oxide and lime. Here too, the land is equally interspersed with plenty of stones and small rocks, characteristically preserving humidity a little bit longer than soil of a different makeup.

Camp d'en Ventura Santanyí Mallorca  5

As at Son Alegre, we shall continue to farm our land at Camp d’en Ventura true to organic and ecological methods as laid down by the CBPAE (Consell Balear Regulador de l’Agricltura Ecològica – Balearic Council of Organic Agricultural Production). That means, no chemicals, no pesticides, no herbicides; that also means that we don’t use commercial fertilizers be that chemical or organic. If everybody uses the same commercial fertilizers, people shouldn’t be surprised when a lot of wine tastes similar. You always get out of things what you first have put in, don’t you think?

Camp d'en Ventura Santanyí Mallorca  7

As always, we shall also adhere to the principles of biodynamics according to Rudolph Steiner even though we have not yet been granted the certificate of DEMETER (International Demeter Processing Standards). That implies no ploughing with heavy machinery, the use of biodynamic compost produced from the pulp of grapes and other plant and mineral components plus our own organic manure, principally from our own flock of sheep. And of course we follow the cycles of the moon, a practice which has been adhered to already by our great-grandparents all those years ago. We allow a ground cover of wild flowers and grasses all year round, inviting insects, beetles and birds to take habitat and thus work the land and nourish the soil for us. It’s a long way to Tipperary but the journey, as always, has to start with the first step.

Camp d'en Ventura Santanyí Mallorca  4

We are looking forward to 2018 and we don’t mind having to be patient a bit until then.

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

Looking At The Amazing Mycorrhiza Fungi

Mycorrhizae fungi

The human race is a funny species. We generally tend to think that things that we don’t see can’t matter much. The invisible is not important to us, or so it seems.

When you drive through the Mallorcan countryside, or any countryside in fact anywhere in the world, you will see that farmers are busy working their land with heavy machinery, ploughing their land with tractors and tilling the soil as if there was no tomorrow. What many people don’t realize is that in doing so, the soil composure is likely to be broken up, the organic structure of the layers of soil is disturbed and sometimes destroyed and the microbial cosmos of the soil and subsoil, by and large invisible to the eye, is damaged, shocked, distressed and traumatized, and sometimes devastated beyond repair.

A major organism living just below the surface of our soil is a fungus called Mycorrhiza (Greek Mukes, meaning fungus and rhiza, roots), forming a symbiosis with the host plants, in our case, the vines at Son Alegre. The Mycorrhiza fungi has been shown to be important or even essential for plant performance. Mycorrhizae live on the roots of more than 80% of Earth’s plant species, including most herbs and flowers, grass, cereals, legumes, trees, fruit and vegetable, ferns and mosses. The American plant pathologist, Stephen Wilhelm, is quoted as saying: ‘… in agricultural field conditions, plants do not, strictly speaking, have roots, they have mycorrhizae’.

Mycorrhizae are unable to produce their own food which is why they attach themselves to the host plant and receive sugar from that plant in exchange for nutrients and water. This process, in turn, improves the growth of the host plant and favours rapid rooting.

The Mycorrhizae is a plant system with thousands of fine roots thinner than human hair, feeding the host plant in a mutually beneficial symbiosis with elements such as nitrogen, phosphorus, zinc plus many other nutrients. The Mycorrhizae fungi also play a role in protecting the host plant roots from harmful diseases.

When water is abundant, the Mycorrhiza system stores water for release at a later stage when the host plant is stressed for moisture. The fine hairs (hyphae) that make up the body of the Mycorrhiza are able to get water and nutrients from the tiniest soil crevasses and deliver these to the host plant.


The Mycorrhizal fungi are said to have been around on earth for 450 million years or so.

Allow us to quote from a source that seems more expert than us in such matters (Acres USA):

Research confirms that Mycorrhizae are particularly important in mobilizing phosphorus, nitrogen, zinc, iron, calcium, magnesium, manganese, sulfur and other important soil nutrients by enzymatic release from tightly held chemical bonds and transporting them back to the plant. Crop plant uptake and utilization of fertilizer inputs likewise becomes far more efficient, often leading to significant savings in fertilizer costs.

But Mycorrhizal benefits do not stop there. These fungi also play a definitive role in a plant’s natural defense against fungal root diseases such as Pytophthora, Fusarium, Phythium and Rhizoctonia.

Mycorrhizal fungi produce and release suppressive exudates such as antibiotics that inhibit infection by these and other fungal root pathogens. Studies have documented that Mycorrhizae also defend root systems by forming a physical barrier to deter invasion by soil pathogens.


We stated before on this blog that at Son Alegre we feel that we could not produce the grapes for our wine without the help of our friend, the Ladybird, or in the absence of a little help from our most valued collaborator, the common Ant. Well, we would be equally stranded, we fear, if it was not for the Mycorrhiza fungi. There, we’ve said it.

Read more about this amazing fungi here.

(Note: The photos and images in this blog entry were not taken on our own land but were borrowed from the Internet. Thank you.)

Nominating Our Employees Of The Month


In life, one often tends to overlook the little things and yet, some of them can be of the utmost importance. Ants, for instance.

Ants are indispensable for the ecosystems. There are some 22,000 ant species known worldwide, it is said. We do not know how many of these one can find in Mallorca, but plenty there are if one bothers to look out for them. There are more ants on this island of Mallorca than humans, including the 12,000,000 plus visiting guests that Mallorca welcomes every year. A hundred times more. There may be more than that on our land alone, the Son Alegre finca.


Ants form colonies that range in size from a few dozen predatory individuals living in small natural cavities to highly organised colonies that may occupy large territories and consist of millions of individuals. Larger colonies consist mostly of sterile, wingless females forming castes of “workers”, “soldiers”, or other specialised groups. Nearly all ant colonies also have some fertile males called “drones” and one or more fertile females called “queens”. The colonies sometimes are described as super-organisms because the ants appear to operate as a unified entity, collectively working together to support the colony.

(quoted from Wikipedia, thank you very much)

Our ants are working on our land day in and day out, all year long. Now, after this year’s grape harvest has been completed, they are coming out in force, building new nests and a plenitude of new mounds. Below the surface and far from the human eye, the ant colonies are very complex. There are some simple excavations of only a few tunnels and chambers, but there are also far more complex systems with many chambers of various sizes, and interconnecting tunnels. The environment within an ant nest is strictly controlled by the ants. They can open and close various entrances to provide more or less air circulation. The lower parts of the nest tend to be cooler and perhaps damper and ants will often move their brood from various parts of the nest if it gets too cool, too warm, wet or dry for the larvæ. This is why it is vitally important not to dig into an ant nest purely out of curiosity. We let our ants simply get on with their job of airing our soil and distributing organic matter to where it is most needed.


Our motive is to let nature be undisturbed in the best possible way. The more we respect the holistic interaction of the microcosm of our vine plants with the native flora, often mistakenly called weeds, and their interaction with native insects, be that bees, ants, bugs or any other tiny creature, not to forget the Ladybird, the more thriving and healthy our grapes will grow. Nature always knows best.

Ants_Close up

Some interesting facts about ants you might be interested in:

  • Ants are extremely good at adapting to various climatic conditions as is evident by the fact that they are one of the longest surviving species. They have been around for the past 150 million years, and by the looks of it, seems like they are set for another 150 million!
  • Over 12000 known species of ants exist in the world. Experts conjecture that there are approximately 12000 species yet to be identified and named.
  • Ants are very intelligent beings. It is usual for humans to train animals, but in case of ants, it has been noticed that older ants train the younger ants in whatever task they are supposed to do. The only instance when an animal has been known to train another of its own kind!
  • A few species of ants have “trap-jaws” which can only be described as “super jaws”. These jaws can snap shut at tremendous speeds (records show 140mph!), in fact, the fasted amongst all animals. They use it as catapults, as well as to fling themselves in the backward direction.
  • Ants can run at amazing speeds. To give you an idea, if an ant was the size of a horse, it would be able to run as fast as a racehorse!
  • Some ants are given the job of looking after the queen’s eggs, and they do it diligently! Every morning these ants pick up the larvae and put them in the topmost chamber of the anthill to keep them warm, while every night they move them to the lowermost chamber so that they do not freeze!
  • When the queen ant flies off to start her own colony, she collects sperm from different males. She needs as many as 2 – 3 million sperms to start a new colony!
  • They are pretty colorful creatures. They appear in shades of green, red, and brown. Some species also exhibit blue and purple colors, while a few tropical ant species have a metallic shine.
  • Ants normally range from 2 to 7 mm in length. The carpenter ant is an exception to the rule, as it can stretch to 2 cm, or even an inch.
  • Adult ants are unable to swallow solid food. They depend on the juice they are able to squeeze out from pieces of food. This liquid food is also passed on to the larvæ.
  • Some worker ants are given the responsibility of guarding the queen. They act as the queen’s personal bodyguards.
  • One of the largest species of ant is the Giant Forest Ant (Camponotus gigas). The soldiers of this species grow as long as 28 – 30 mm. Also, the ants of this species engage in ritual battles which can continue for months!
  • An ant’s antenna is a multipurpose device. It can be used to touch things to know what they are, as well as to smell things!
  • So helpful are these creatures, that they eat for each other! Well, almost. They have two stomachs, one for themselves and the other to store food that they can share with other ants! They also have a tiny pocket in their mouths in which they can store food for other ants!
  • An ant has the largest brain amongst insects. It is said that the processing power of an ant’s brain and a Macintosh II computer might be similar.
  • It is the sting of the ant that is painful rather than the bite. Most ants have slightly venomous stings. Fire ants are most feared, because they have extremely venomous stings which can cause severe itching.
  • Ants are mostly omnivorous, that is, they eat other insects, seeds, oils and bread.
  • An ant can lift about 20 times its own body weight. But that is an average estimate. Some ants can even carry loads 50 times their body weight!
  • The life span of ants increases according to the hierarchy. Since the fertile males are at the lowest rung (their only job being that of providing sperm to the queen), they live only for a few weeks. Worker ants are a little higher up, so they live for 2 – 3 years. Queen ants live the longest, with a lifespan of almost 25 – 30 years!
  • Not all ant colonies have to have a queen. Some colonies function without one, while some others have more than one queen. If the queens do not think they can co-exist peacefully, one queen will leave the colony along with a few worker ants to start her own colony.
  • A Tropical Leafcutter ant uses its sharp outer jaw to cut leaves and make them into pulp. The pulp is later used to make fungus gardens. These gardens are looked after and harvested for food. So just to burst our bubble, we humans did not invent farming. Ants did it way before us.
  • Worker ants are further categorized into subsets based on the work they are allotted. Some are given the job of constructing the nest, some are given the responsibility of taking the rubbish from the nest and putting it into the rubbish dump, while some are supposed to teach the newer breed food gathering tactics.
  • Some ants (soldier ants) are given the task of guarding the nest, protecting it from predators, and warning the others about impending danger. These ants use the technique of vibrations to warn others. They will bang their heads against the walls of the nest, and the vibrations created because of the banging warn the others who are inside, about the approaching danger.
  • The soldier ants have modified heads to help them with their job. They can block the entrance to their colonies by putting their heads in them, and only allow their fellow worker ants to enter!
  • When a worker ant finds a source of food, it leaves a trail of scent to attract other ants in the colony to it. Since ants have poor vision, they rely heavily on this trail of scent to guide them to the food.
  • Leafcutter ants are threatened by a parasite which lays eggs in the crevices of their head. So what do they do when they go out? They carry smaller ants on their heads, whose only work is to fend off any attacks from this nasty parasite. Talk about looking out for each other!
  • Each colony of ants have their own unique smell. If an ant leaves it colony, it will lose the smell of that colony after a few days, and will be treated as an enemy if it returns after that. Any ant that does not have the smell of a colony will be treated as an enemy by that colony and attacked!
  • Leafcutter ants rank second only to humans, when it comes to forming intricate and huge societies. They can build 100 m wide nests in a matter of a few years! And they live in societies containing 8 – 10 million individuals.

(This information is quoted from Thank you very much.)

We honestly don’t think we could run our land or our business without the good help of these little creatures, the ants, our little friends. Thank you all so much, little ants.

The Soil Determines The Wine


When evaluating a wine, the choice of 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 the grape varieties that makes a wine taste the way it does, but rather where those grapes are grown, the microclimatic conditions in that particular location and the type of soil makeup giving nourishment to the vines.

At Son Alegre, we cultivate 15 hectares 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 thermal conditions of the coastal area, at 7 km from the Mediterranean Sea to the South-East and 12 km distant from 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 sea, a phenomenon known locally as s’Embat. This cool current of air is created by meeting with warmer air, heated up from the land warmed up by the high temperatures of the sun and thus regularly creating a fresh breeze of air during the hot afternoon hours of summer.

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 that little bit longer than soil of a different makeup.

Wine growing 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 viticulture and oenology by practising only hand-harvesting, traditional basket press production, indigenous wild yeast fermentation, and fine French oak barriques for aging.

Son Alegre soil -1

Comprehending The Health Of Our Planet’s Ecosystems


Understanding the health of our planet’s ecosystems is the holistic understanding of agricultural activities in the long term period.

At Son Alegre, we cultivate our vines according to biodynamic principles, the holistic way of understanding the interaction of our soil with wildlife and insects that allows us to reconnect with nature.

To this end, we do not plough our vineyard with heavy machinery. We use biodynamic compost produced from the remains of grapes and other herbal and mineral components plus our own organic manure. We allow a vegetable cover all year round. We carry out pruning according to the lunar calendar. We perform all the tasks in the vineyard by hand. We refrain from the use of chemical pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers of any kind. We reduce, by more than 80%, the permitted doses of copper and sulfur used to prevent mildew. We use infusions of medicinal plant substance to prevent diseases.

In short, we simply allow nature to do its integrated and holistic task even if it leads to lesser quantities and a lower profit margin. Our respect for nature has so far regularly given us a good harvest. 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 our future generations. We aim to give back to nature what nature has given us forever more.