THE number of wine cellars in the Balearics has increased by 58 per cent since January 2004.
In just 18 months, a total of 22 new bodegas have started functioning in the Balearics, opening at a rate of more than one a month in what has been described as a boom in the normally depressed agriculture sector.
Prior to 2004, there were just 38 wine cellars in the Balearics, now there are 60.
This is considered a spectacular increase in wine production and has called for major investment. The cost of starting a wine cellar is much higher than it was decades ago.
First of all the land for the new vines has to be purchased, and modern wine cellars call for a considerable lay out for installations, laboratories and highly specialised staff.
But these obstacles, though daunting, are not enough to scare people off -- a further six wine cellars are in the planning stages.
Wine has always played an important part in the Balearic economy and the first vines were probably introduced by the Romans in about 123BC. But wine production did not have much importance until the arrival of the Catalans in the 13th century.
But the vines were wiped out by phyloxera in 1891 and many people were ruined, leading to mass emigration, chiefly to Algeria and Argentina.
In recent years, wine production has been increasing steadily and Balearic wines, particularly those with a denominación de origen label, have been making a name for themselves abroad.
The wine cellars have the full backing of the Balearic government, which has drawn up a series of routes during which wine cellars and other places such as cheese factories can be visited.
In September, Majorca celebrates its wines with a fiesta dedicated to them in Binissalem.