There’s a new vineyard in Ibiza. Situated in the far north of the island with sweeping views of the Mediterranean, Ojo de Ibiza is the brainchild of Dieter Meier who some will remember as one half of the Swiss electrionic duo Yello, ( Ferris Bueller anyone?) while others will know him as the man behind the award-winning Puro wine from Argentina.
Laura Garcia, renowned agricultural engineer and Oenologist talks us through the journey and complicated process of establishing vines on Ibiza…
The first time I came to Ibiza, was in the winter of 2012 It was an icy, sunless day and the name Ibiza didn’t seem to fit. The paradox of getting off the plane and walking through the sad and lonely airport still decorated with the summer posters of the island was not lost on me. Guided by some coordinates, I arrived at a small farm in the north of the island with the aim of evaluating whether the land was suitable for vine cultivation.
Dieter had asked me to investigate a farm in the north of the island. His vineyards in Argentina, home of the renowned Puro brand and his love of the White Isle had inspired him to develop a vineyard here. His brief was simple: develop a wine-growing project where everything is in balance with nature and the plants are capable of developing tasty and vital grapes that later allow creating excellent wines. A fantasy for any winemaker.
Accompanied by a geologist and a pair of surveyors we reached the meeting point and for a moment forgot the reason of our mission, stunned by the beauty of the environment. Whilst we were able to gauge distances, slopes and soil texture, the beauty of our surroundings was immeasurable.
Having overcome the poetics of the environment, we took out our boots, meters, and plans and began to walk and analyze the potential of the land to host an exceptional vineyard. The farm, isolated from any urban nucleus, had remnants of self-consumption agriculture. We counted citrus, fig, olives and prickly pears. The unevenness of the property was important, so everything had been resolved based on small terraces or ‘feixas’ outlined with stone walls. In the middle of the farm and looking out to sea, a country house reminded us of the beauty of simplicity, and why Ibiza was a reference for countercultural artists, philosophers and travelers throughout the years. And then it started to snow….
Within ten days we had the report and a unanimous conclusion, those terraces could undoubtedly house the unique vineyard that Dieter Meier had dreamed of every summer since he first he visited Ibiza back many years ago.
We began in 2012, preparing a unique environment for planting vineyards capable of being functional and respecting the biodiversity of the rich landscape. Our commitment to balance at all levels, formed the basis of all our decisions. The oak trees stayed on the terraces, and we, the outsiders, established relationships with the Ibicencans who helped us understand our surroundings. And so, after four years of working in harmony and solving the inevitable setbacks, OJO DE IBIZA harvested its first crop of Cabernet, Syrah and Monastrel grapes, just a few kilos, on an experimental basis.
Despite its youth, the first grapes surprised us all. No doubt influenced by our spirit the wine was balanced and elegant. Lots of black fruit, aromatic herbs and no trace of the vegetable character typical of young vines. A great success in a year of low rainfall and hardly formed vines. The joy and optimism of the fermentations encouraged us to bring the wine to the barrel and we evaluated its aging potential in French oak barrels. The result was excellent and encouraged us to abandon all doubts and bet definitively on a wine made by, and for, Ibiza. Since then, OJO DE IBIZA has continued its work, producing each year the best of the possible wines from small grapes that ripen slowly under a beautiful blue sky.Our viticulture is simple, managing the vineyard so that the plants have enough energy to develop their life cycle, but keeping vegetative vigor at bay so that the grapes concentrate color, flavor and aromas. It’s all about balance.For the last two years OJO DE IBIZA has been certified under the organic farming seal.
For Dieter Meier it’s essential to guarantee to the consumer, products without waste and that the biodiversity of the natural environment is respected at all times. Treatments focus on fungal control, as powdery mildew is endemic in all viticulture in the Mediterranean. Without a doubt, the drought and the evening breezes from the east decrease humidity, and we keep the disease controlled in an natural way. OJO DE IBIZA’s great wine-growing challenge facing the new perspective of climate change will undoubtedly be drought and high summer temperatures. Our technical team is investigating and developing vineyard management systems capable of reducing water consumption and protecting bunches from sunburn. This is a challenge for us that we will tackle in the coming years with the aim of adapting to new climatic conditions. The harvest is marked by the “vintage” effect and is advanced or delayed depending on the annual weather. The veraison (colour change) of the grapes takes place the first week of August, and fifteen days later, we assess the ideal time to harvest the grapes. The choice of harvest time is crucial, and OJO DE IBIZA makes this decision terrace by terrace, making sure to reach the ideal harvest time.
Once the harvest is decided, the orchestra starts up and the clusters are cut little by little into boxes to arrive at the winery, beautiful and intact. The terraces are partially harvested according to qualities and the grapes and are brought to the winery to be vinified in small containers independently. We customize winemaking for each type of grape, for each orientation. Each small tank is unique, the wines sincere and genuine.
Without a doubt, OJO DE IBIZA is a young and risky project, but we are encouraged and excited by the results. With expert techniques, love and passion, we are achieving in these terraces, now full of life and activity.