The history of wine in California is a century older than the state itself. California’s saint, Junipero Serra, had vineyards planted in his 18th-century missions. Los Angeles was originally a wine country (“The City of Vines” was an L.A. nickname of the 19th century), and the Napa Valley’s origins as a wine producer coincide with the Gold Rush.
It turns out that Junip S was from Mallorca, a place I visited last October. He is still honored there as a pioneer and missionary of great vision, perhaps overlooking his many crimes against humanity. My bike tour included a stop at his “favorite” church, whatever that means.
Junípero Serra was the Franciscan missionary who founded the Spanish mission chain in California. Recently declared a saint by the Catholic Church, his impact on the history of the state was enormous. He has been a revered figure in California for many decades, though recent debates over colonialism have created controversy — at times violent — around his legacy. Though Serra is buried at Mission San Carlos Borromeo in Carmel, California, he was born and grew up on the island of Mallorca.
Wine on Mallorca
Mallorca wines aren’t typically exported, so in order to taste them, you’ll likely need to come right to the source. And if you’re in Mallorca, you should most definitely take advantage by tasting as many of these unique wines as you can.
With so many wines undergoing the same old processing practices — which can end up standardizing wines and impeding the flavors of their origin — Mallorca aims to stand separate. Instead, this region has chosen to flamboyantly throw its own Mediterranean character into its wines!
There are many local grapes employed in Mallorca wines, and tasting these offers real insight into the local culture and land. There’s not only the callet, but also the black grapes manto negro, fogoneu, and gorgollasa (the latter not even present in commercial Spanish varieties) and the prensal white varietal.
On the other hand, some wine-makers mix these local grapes with foreign (mostly French) grapes such as syrah, cabernet, merlot, pinot noir, chardonnay, chenin blanc, and viognier — but the characteristics of local soils and microclimates give them a different character than you’d traditionally get from those more common grapes.
There are five different areas on the island, all with different climates that create completely different wines: the Sierra Tramuntana (mountain chain in front of the sea), el Raiguer (long tail area crossing the island), el Pla (central flat part), Serra de Llevant (hilly area), and el Mijorn (a flat in the south near the sea).
I meant to send this when i was there, last October. Forget Serra, enjoy the wines!