A BRIEF HISTORY
OF CAN AXARTELL

Can Axartell is a winegrowing estate in the northeast of Mallorca, not far from the city and port of Pollença. It is among the most progressive estates on the island, yet looks back on centuries of tradition. Even the earliest official records referencing the finca, or rural estate, mention viticulture. Can Axartell itself was founded almost 800 years ago, shortly after the island was recaptured from its Moorish occupiers in 1229. The Christian conquerors discovered several vineyards, although they are unlikely to have been used to produce wine, as Muslims are famously forbidden from drinking alcohol. The new masters had no such qualms, and by the 16th and 17th centuries wines produced at Can Axartell were being offered to illustrious guests to the city of Pollença. The farm's olive oil was equally famous; even today Can Axartell maintains over 40 hectares of olive trees, some of which likely date back to the very founding of the estate itself.

When Hamburg-native Hans-Peter Schwarzkopf and his family first toured the grounds, they discovered a centuries-old complex of well-conceived estate buildings that had sadly largely fallen into ruins. The ensemble also included an historic donkey-powered oil mill and a small chapel that was used for mass for the local residents. The finca also contained a significant share of fallow ground used solely by shepherds, an abandoned quarry and the remains of a facility for producing cement. A vision was needed here — one that covered an extended time horizon and was backed up by the tremendous dynamic energy needed to restore and revitalize this beautiful property. Hans-Peter Schwarzkopf has moved forward patiently, building Can Axartell step-by-step into what it is today: an estate unlike any other on Mallorca that harmoniously integrates into the landscape, traditions and culture of the island. In 1999, with the first vineyards still being planted, the owners had already applied for organic certification. The soil here has never been subjected to chemical treatment, nor will it.

Over time, 34 hectares of vines have been planted on the finca itself, with an additional 24 hectares planted in the interior of the island, near the city of Villafranca de Bonany. The vineyards contain both indigenous and imported varieties. Awareness has grown over the last decade that Mallorca has an unusually rich trove of indigenous grapes. The best-known red varieties are Callet and Manto Negro. Callet was in fact the first to be planted at Can Axartell. Premsal is the most frequently cultivated white variety. Giró Ros, Giró Negre, Fogoneu and Gorgolassa are also present, albeit less well known. One variety of completely unknown provenance was dubbed Pollença. It has been adopted into the experimental vineyard at Can Axartell, where each of these grape varieties can be studied and nurtured in collaboration with the University of the Balearic Islands. Beyond the varieties native to the island, Can Axartell is also notably home to Mediterranean varieties such as Malvasia, Syrah and Monastrell, as well as parcels with Merlot, Pinot Noir and Petit Verdot.

While the vineyards continued to expand year by year, plans for the winery took concrete form as well. The decisive question involved how to practically apply the Mètode Gravetat, a gravity-based system of wine production that eliminates the need for pumping. The solution that presented itself was a classic example of killing two birds with one stone. The owners and experts concocted a plan to build the winery building on the site of the estate's abandoned quarry, which had long marred the hillside landscape like an ugly open wound. The space could accommodate a four-story bodega, needed to house an effective Mètode Gravetat system. As a marvelous side benefit, the original hillside could then be backfilled with earth and restored to a natural state once the building was completed. That soil has since long greened and fits in harmoniously with its surroundings. The eyesore of the quarry has been subsumed into a flowing and flora-rich hillside landscape, with only the glassy facade of the bodega's reception hall hinting at the extensive building below.The position and design of the bodega ensure uniformly cool temperatures between 16 to 18 °C in the interior of the building, a positive for both the production and storage of the wines. The climate is also a joy for the employees, who can find some respite from the Mallorcan heat that routinely tops 30 and even 40 °C in summer. The use of this natural, energy-saving cooling is consistent with the estate's overall holistic, ecological and sustainable concept. As such, the decision to integrate the bodega into a shuttered quarry has proven one of the wisest and most effective decisions made by the finca's owners. Without this concept, it is highly unlikely that construction approval for such a large building would have been issued for this protected landscape. The motto of the estate encapsulates the core insight behind Can Axartell: "The best wine is made with respect." This respect permeates every aspect of the estate's work, and reflects the team's high regard for nature, for the cultural landscape, for tradition and for the generations to come.

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