The ancient roots of winemaking in Ibiza & Formentera
Dating back to the 7th century B.C. during the Phoenician period, wine production has a long history in Ibiza. Amphorae vessels (two-handled Greek style terracotta containers) have been found that were used by the Phoenicians for storing Ibizan wine.
In Punic times, the inhabitants of Ibiza had quite a good knowledge of vine-growing and wine-producing techniques to the extent that it was the islanders who introduced viniculture to nearby mainland areas. Much of the wine consumed on the eastern mainland of Spain was actually brought over from Ibiza during these times. The Roman presence on the island led to even more improvements in vine growing and wine production with the introduction of new growing techniques and improved wine-making systems.
Winemaking in Formentera can be dated back to the Middle Ages with a mention of vineyards on the island in a document of the 13th century. It continued until the 14th century when the island's population disappeared as a result of the Black Death. It wasn't until the 18th century when the island was repopulated with inhabitants from Ibiza, from then on winemaking would play an increasingly important role in Formentera's economy.
The Phylloxera plague
The wine export market expanded in the 19th century and, in the second half of the century, French vines were plagued by Phylloxera an insect that feeds on the roots and leaves of the grape vines. France were then forced to import wine and this was a big boost for all Spanish wine production. However the pest began to appear on the Balearic islands in the latter part of the 19th century and the wine making business suffered greatly.
The late 20th century's recovery
Wine producers struggled on through the 20th century. The first modern winery opened in Formentera in 1972 and, in the 1980s, things started to pick up again in Ibiza as well. Several producers invested in more modern technology to assist with production and, in 1996, the "Vi de la Terra" denominations were created. Today viniculture is one of Formentera's leading agricultural activities and is fastly growing in Ibiza.