Winemaking on Menorca dates back to the 13th century when the Moors inhabited the island, and its production peaked centuries later thanks to huge demand during British occupation. The phylloxera pest quickly destroyed the industry, however, and it only began to recover relatively recently. Thankfully, enterprising islanders are again taking advantage of the isle’s vine-friendly climate and are producing some excellent wines – here’s rundown of the best.
Located six kilometres south of Ciutadella, this family-run winery and bodega was constructed in a disused quarry to minimise its environmental impact. Its vineyards grow a variety of grapes, which produce five wines and around 20,000 bottles a year – most of which are consumed on the island. Tours can be arranged in advance, and there’s a store where you can purchase a bottle or two of wine, as well as an excellent vermouth.
Founded in 1987, Bodegas Menorquinas are positioned right in the centre of the island just above the pretty market town of Es Mercadal. The founder Crispín Mariano revived a method of Menorcan viticulture that had been lost for two centuries, earning the wine a Denominación de Origen (Vi de la Terra Illa de Menorca). Visits to the vineyard can be arranged in advance. Alternatively, you can sample any of the wines in the Ca n’Aguedet restaurant in Es Mercadal, owned by the same family.
Located 100 metres above sea level just outside the town of Ferreries, this vineyard is a family-run establishment and part of the Sant Patrici estate. It produces around 8,000 bottles annually; their two reds are matured in barrels of French and American oak for up to 12 months, while their third wine is a light young rosé. Call to arrange a tour, or book a table in their restaurant. You can also complement their wine with traditional Menorcan cheese made on-site.
Situated about five kilometres south of the capital Mahón, the bodega of Binifadet dates from 1979 and produces more wine than any other on the island (55,000 bottles a year). It is also the only winery that makes Menorcan sparkling wines, produced using Chardonnay and Merlot grapes grown on their ten-hectare vineyards. Hour-long tours and tastings are available, plus you can enjoy lunch in the restaurant afterwards – or just head to the bar for more wine.
The first wines at the Finca Sa Marjaleta were only planted as recently as 2006, with the first harvest three years later. Remodelled from a cheese farm, the winery produces a modest 4,000 bottles a year, including two red wines and a young white, all named Iamontanum (the former Roman name for the town of Ciutadella). The vineyards cover just two hectares, though tours can be arranged in advance.
The vineyards of Sa Forana are characterised by soil scattered with stones of the rock beneath, giving their wines a distinctive minerality. The bodega, Cellers Solano, is family-run and a relatively small producer at under 7,000 bottles annually. Their three hectares of vineyards grow Cabernet Sauvignon, Tempranillo, Merlot, Syrah and Chardonnay grapes, from which they make two reds and a limited production white wine.