All Categories

Origins of wine growing in Mallorca

December 21, 2023
Reading time: 05:44 minutes

The history of wine in Mallorca dates back to the Romans who introduced the cultivation of grapevines to the island. In the first century BC the great historian, Pliny the Elder, declared that Balearic wines rivalled Italy’s finest. Since then, wine has continued to be produced on the island, with varying degrees of success.

The Romans brought vines to Mallorca and in the fourteenth century the first vineyards were documented, which belonged to the Church and the Crown. References can be found in Inca, Palma and Alcúdia. At this time there were already laws that regulated the cultivation of grapes and trading of wine and in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries wine production provided work in the settlements of Inca, Alcúdia and Felanitx.


The wine cultivation boom

In the seventeenth century the cultivation of vines spread, thanks to an exemption from paying the tithe (if vines were grown) and the regular consumption of wine and wine spirits, which opened up the market both in Mallorca and beyond. At the end of the eighteenth century and in the early nineteenth century there was a crisis due to grapevine monoculture, as well as periods of war and taxation that had a negative impact on wine production.  In the mid-nineteenth century grapevine cultivation and wine production recovered despite some diseases, such as powdery mildew (1851). The appearance of phylloxera in France in 1863 helped this recovery further because of the high demand for wine from the affected country. A commercial treaty with France (1879) marked the start of a period of expansion for grape cultivation and wine making in Mallorca. The situation meant that other crops (such as almonds) were replaced with grapevines, which covered an area of 30,000 ha. The second half of the twentieth century was significant in the history of wine production in Mallorca. In 1990 Mallorca received its first Designation of Origin for wine. The Binissalem Designation of Origin groups together wines produced in five municipal districts: Santa María del Camí, Sencelles, Binissalem, Consell and Santa Eugenia.

Later, in 1999 the Pla i Llevant Designation of Origin was awarded. In the first decade of the twenty-first century, in 2007, the geographical indication of “Vino de la tierra de Mallorca” (wine from Mallorca) was recognised and regulated, covering more than 70 vineyards.

Glass of wine

Organic wine growing

We have had the pleasure of speaking to Bernat Monserrat, a young organic farmer. According to Bernat, “grapevines form part of the landscape of the entire Mediterranean region, whether for fruit consumption or for making wine.

Vines are interspersed with the rest of the main agricultural uses of the land: grain cultivation, orchards, scrubland and grazing land. The resulting mosaic creates a unique landscape that is rich in tones and colours that change throughout the seasons. This diversity of habitats in not only pleasant for us, but also acts as a larder, home and patio to countless species of insects and birds.

Unfortunately, this is not the case everywhere as there are areas of intensive agriculture where crops are sprayed with pesticides, altering or completely wiping out all this fauna that inhabits our mosaic. These alterations to the ecosystems usually lead to diseases, loss of the natural fertility of the soil or loss of soil due to erosion from the rain. Other consequences that affect those who live in these areas are the pollution of aquifers from fertilizers and pesticides and the overuse of these aquifers, leading to salinization of the water and a long list of further problems.  

Fortunately, there are increasing numbers of farmers who farm organically, protecting and maintaining our land. They are doing so with the help of APAEMA (the Mallorcan Association of Organic Agriculture) which provides courses and advisors who help introduce new ways of doing things and the CBPAE (the Balearic Council for Organic Agriculture) which checks and ensures that products labelled as organic really are what they claim to be.

Wine growing has been one of the sectors that has embraced this type of agriculture most as it helps maximise the quality of the product. There are numerous vineyards that have understood that organic and quality go hand in hand.

There is Miquel in charge of the Son Alegre vineyard, Bárbara Mezquida at Mezquida Mora, Xesc Grimalt at 4kg, Miquel from Can Coleto wines, Catalina from Galmés y Ribot and Eloi Perelló, to name but a few.

Apart from making excellent wine and taking care of grapevines that protect our ecosystems, these people have also contributed to preserving and improving the incredibly valuable genetic heritage of all the Mallorcan grape varieties, such as Callet, Manto Negro, Fogoneu, Prensal, Malvasia, Macabeo and a long list of others.

Therefore, thanks to these vineyards and to many other small grape growers we can be sure that this winemaking heritage will last for future generations to enjoy.”


Wine in Felanitx

Felanitx is also known for being a wine growing region. During the first half of the twentieth century, it was a major wine producing area, boosted by its oenological station, where studies in vine cultivation and wine making were carried out. The building of this oenological station, El Celler Cooperative of Felanitx, better known as El Sindicat, was the largest of Mallorca’s wineries. It still exists and today is used as the headquarters of the district’s social services department.  

Up until 1923 the winery produced wine that was only sold in the Felanitx district. However, over the years, in parallel with the emergence of designations of origin, sales spread throughout the island with the aim of providing an outlet for farmers who did not have their own wineries and had previously been forced to sell off their harvest at a loss.


At Inturotel we are proud to be ambassadors of these high-quality wines that respect our environment, allowing us to play a part in protecting our landscape and its ecological diversity.

We encourage you to join this movement by choosing a good organic wine during your holidays. We look forward to seeing you!


Mallorca addicts