Illes Balears Regional Wines

The Romans were almost certainly the first to import vines and grow them in the Balearic Islands. Back in the 1st century BC, Pliny referred to wine from the Balearics, comparing it with Italy's finest. During the islands' Arab domination, despite Koranic prohibitions, vine growing did not cease and grapes continued to be grown, even with sophisticated irrigation systems invented by the Arabs. Proof of this is the fact that the Arab, Ben Abet, offered King Jaume I excellent quality grapes when he conquered the island in 1229. We should highlight that in the 14th century, the king and the Cathedral Chapter owned their own wineries in Inca and, during the 15th and 16th centuries, vine growing employed almost all the inhabitants of Inca and its surrounding areas. In the 18th century viniculture experienced a period of prosperity, with an increase in output from 88,000 hl in 1777 to 335,331 hl in 1802. Between 1830 and 1834 there was a big setback, caused by economic hardships and a plague of aphids. In 1862 the disease philoxera made an appearance in France, a leading producer and consumer of wine. As a result, the country was forced to import massive quantities of wine (from Spain and Italy) to cope with its internal demand. At the same time, given Balearic wines' reasonable prices and the ease with which they could be sold for consumption by French markets, vine growing in the islands rapidly spread and the period between 1865 and 1890 marked a golden age in the cultivation of grapes and production of Balearic wine.


In the 19th century substantial amounts were exported to France. In 1891 a total of almost 50 million litres were exported from the ports of Palma, Porto Colom and Alcudia, mainly to France and mainland areas. In 1891 philoxera killed off the islands' vines, causing the disappearance of what, until then, had been their main source of wealth. From then on vines would never cover the same amount of land (30,000 hectares) that they had until that point. The vines were mainly replaced by almonds. In consequence, in the early 20th century, vine growing was reduced to about 5,000 hectares, with wine production limited to a very small amount that was unable to meet the local demand. This meant that wine had to be imported from elsewhere. The islands' vines have slowly been replaced, using American shoots on to which other species have then been grafted. During the first half of the 20th century, the amount of land covered by vines oscillated between 5,000 and 8,000 hectares, but after the Spanish Civil War the cultivation of vines slowed down due to the need for other agricultural products. At the end of the 1980s, large areas of grapes were pulled up in exchange for EU subsidies. In spite of this, the 1990s was one of the high points for the islands' winemaking industry, not in terms of quantity but quality.


The efforts of vine growers and wine producers to improve quality levels and consumers' interest in local products have helped to situate Balearic wines in the place that befits them. The Balearic Islands' geographical and climatic framework has led to the achievement of wines with characteristics all of their own, reinforced by the existence of certain native species of vines. As a result, in 1972, Illes Balears Regional Wines - Balearic Islands - Agrifoodstuffs, designations of origin and Balearic gastronomy following the approval of Decree 835 of March 23rd, the Balearic Islands were given recognition as a vine-growing and wine-producing region. Over the last few decades, the islands' wines have acquired certain attributes and an acknowledged distinctive personality. This is corroborated by the high marks that some Balearic wines have been awarded at different contests, competitions and fairs. In 2003, the use of the Illes Balears regional wine indication was regulated following an order issued by the Regional Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries on February 12th. A new Regulation, the Order of October 24th 2006, included the authorisation of the Pinot Noir, Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc varieties and also the regulation of cultivation


The Geographical and Climatic Setting


The vine-growing and wine-producing area covered by the Illes Balears regional wine indication encompasses all the islands that form the archipelago of the same name. Generally speaking, the Balearic Islands are situated on a geological base of an unevolved type, where the strong influence of its source beds is evident. The land is rich in calcareous and red siliceous sandstone sediments, leading to brown or reddish soils. The Balearic Islands have an insular variety of Mediterranean climate with moderate temperatures, particularly the minimums. The archipelago has very different average rainfall figures depending on the time of year, with the lowest rainfalls occurring when temperatures are at their highest.


 Grape Varieties

Reds: Cabernet sauvignon, Merlot ,Syrah, Monastrell, Ull de Llebre, Fogoneu, Callet, Manto Negro, Pinot Noir

Whites:  Chardonnay, Moscatell de Alejandria, Moscatell de grano menudo, Moll, Parellada, Macabeo, Malvasia Aromática, Riesling, Viognier, Sauvignon Blanc


The Wines' Characteristics


The islands' predominant wines are red Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Callet wines with a strong colour and surface, and red fruit aromas. They are full-bodied and strong, with abundant tannins. These are wines that are suitable for aging. The single-variety Chardonnay and Muscat wines have a well-acknowledged reputation. The Chardonnays are characterized by their flowing aroma, with hints of tropical fruit, pineapple and banana. In the mouth they are fresh-tasting, with a full body and flavour and a long, persistent finish. The Muscats are characterized by their floral aroma, with hints of jasmine and violets, and a balanced, fresh taste.


Minimum alcohol content White wine 10.5º Rosé wine 11.0º Red wine 11.5º They are required to have a volatile acidity no higher than 0.8 g/litre, expressed as acetic acid.


The Control System All bottles bearing the Illes Balears regional wine geographical indication are commercialized with an official control number allocated by the Institut de la Qualitat Agroalimentària (IQUA) del Govern de les Illes Balears, which is responsible for the control and certification of Illes Balears regional wine.

Illes Balears Regional Wines - Balearic Islands - Agrifoodstuffs, designations of origin and Balearic gastronomy
Production data

Year 2020

Surface area covered by vines: 153,9 ha

Wineries: 5

Wine production: 3.380,4 hl

Institut de la Qualitat Agroalimentària (IQUA)
C. Reina Constança, 4 07006 Palma
Tel. 971 17 66 66
Fax: 971 17 68 70
Logo Govern