How does Son Moragues manage the leap from its centuries-old past to the present? It’s simple: Joe, 32 years old, tousled hair, his colourful shirt casually hanging over black tube jeans, tells visitors that Mallorca’s olive oil used to be as valuable as mineral oil today.
The value of the island’s liquid gold has long been recognized in Son Moragues. In 2007, an entrepreneur and art lover from Madrid acquired the 100-hectare estate in Valldemossa and has since pursued a vision of cultivating the more than 10,000 olive trees in the ancestral way and giving the 14th-century property a future again.
The plan is to do this with attention to detail and a team of experts who are familiar with organic agriculture, olive oil production, and marketing.
Joe, born in England and raised in Valldemossa, is a bit “the man for everything” on Son Moragues. He also takes care of the marketing (commercialization) of the products: two varieties of organic olive oil, jarred green and black olives, and jam.
The ingredients for the sweet spread come from the four-hectare garden, which is biodynamically cultivated. The olive trees grow on extensive terraces around the estate, which spreads high up into the Tramuntana. Fortunately, there is plenty of water: four natural springs irrigate the garden and the 50-kilometre-long drystone terraces all year round. But in the summer, when the heat is getting to the trees, the leaves receive an additional protective treatment with clay powder. It helps the trees to store water, keeps parasites like the olive fruit fly away, and makes the fruit grow bigger.
Last year, 7000 litres of ‘Son Moragues’ olive oil were produced – the olives for this oil coming from the trees of the lower terraces. For the second olive oil ‘Es Roquissar’, a small production, the olives are collected on the highest terraces. There, the oldest trees grow with wild oleaster trunks, which thrive on barren soil and between the rocky crevices. “Since we harvested them later than the olive trees in the valley, the oil has a smoother taste and a slightly higher acid content,” explains Joe, who likes the ‘rock oil’ for dripping on bread for pa amb oli.
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The special taste of olive oil from Valldemossa had already convinced Ludwig Salvator of Austria, who once owned the estate Son Moragues. In 1888, he presented the finca’s olive oil at the world exhibition in Barcelona and won a prize. How olive oil was produced more than a hundred years ago can be read in the Archduke’s 6,000-pages-long monumental work ‘The Balearics’. Two volumes – five and seven – are still preserved on Son Moragues.
“Not everything ran smoothly in agriculture at the time,” says Joe. In former times, the farmers worked the olive oil in the fresh air and pressed the oil from the olives with the help of boiling-hot water – so many of the olives’ valuable properties were lost. For this reason, the ancient oil press of Son Moragues is now only a museum piece. The olive oil is now produced in a small room with the help of an industrial press and using a cold-pressing process. The kitchen of the farm is also ultra-modern and the place where the jams are cooked and the olives are preserved – all under strict hygiene rules.
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This week, the kitchen is filled with the sweet smell of onions, as it´s the time to boil down a variety of red onions. Red onions have been cultivated on Mallorca for two hundred years, just like the typical Valldemossa tomato, one of the tastiest and sweetest tomatoes worldwide, according to Joe. In the meantime, the tomato fell into oblivion because it has a very thin skin and is not suitable for transport. “On Son Moragues, we grow them again,” says Joe, “and use them to produce a delicious jam with basil, which goes well with cheese or toast with ham.”
The four different jams – there are also varieties with bitter oranges and lemons, are bottled in small glasses and then packaged in a carton box, decorated with artful drawings from old botany books. “All designs are originals or individual adjustments for our jams,” explains Joe. Son Moragues recently won a design prize for its attractive packaging, and the products are also ideal as gifts.
The olive oil is bottled either in a canister or in thick-walled bottles, which are handmade in the glass-blowing workshop Gordiola in Algaida. The olive oil bottle, together with an illustrated booklet, is placed in a pretty wooden box. In the brochure you can read about the history of Son Moragues and its oil and admire drawings from the famous Balearic encyclopaedia. We are sure the Archduke would have liked this gift.
More about Son Moragues
The Valldemossa estate of Son Moragues produces heaven-sent olive oil based on sustainable, organic-certified farming methods. […] Son Moragues