Work for the ripper

As you might know we will produce two wines this year (alongside the wines of my father). One red from a parcel of Regent near Sulzfeld and one white from our Silvaner vineyard in Kitzingen (we decided against the Grauburgunder / Pinot Gris to make it more classy). As we aim for making it natural – no additives – there is a lot more we have to take care of.

And we had the chance to learn a little more last week when we had the winemaker/consultant Hermann Mengler visiting us. He normally helps the growers in this area producing solid wines and – working for the government – is involved or runs a lot of experiments with the goal to learn and make the wine of our region better. Not somebody I was expecting an aweful lot of natural wine expertise. But boy was I wrong. Hermann was impressingly well informed not only understanding it technically but philosophically. E.g. that organic is unquestionably the basis of natural winemaking.

Flowers in our organic vineyards

At the end of our discussion I opened a few bottles I brought from France, from one of my favorite winemakers: Anthony Tortul. I wanted to get some reactions as Anthony is a hardcore natural wine producer. No sulphur at all. We tasted his two red La Sorga wines, they are so good, so full of fruit, intense and nutty – I kept them open for five days and took a sip every day to admire them developing. And we tasted the Chamillon (a blend of Chardonnay and Semillon) which was the most unusual (a classical natural white I would say, not too strong but intense minerals and all the funky aromas) but also the one Hermann liked most. Made me happy – extra points.

La Sorga: En Rouge Et Noir

But back to our wine. Besides many things to take care of after harvest there are a couple of things I can do in the vineyard. What we want to avoid as good as we can is botrytis (and any kind of mould). Firstly because it will force us to harvest earlier (botrytis can also attract harmful insects) and secondly it will become hard to impossible to avoid using sulphur what is essential for natural winemaking. So the shadow side of the vineyard has to loose some leaves which I’m ripping off by hand. Also smaller vines either have to loose their grapes or get cut off. And talking about grapes: there are so many grapes – the pure number and density is a botrytis risk again plus I want this wine to be strong in minerals. So I’m ripping or cutting of grapes. Many grapes.

Ripped off grapes

One per branch is acceptable but only if it’s a good branch and I also cut off parts of the grape which are not nice. It’s a massacre! But it will mean all the power going into a third of the grapes so more minerals, more sugar, less botrytis. This is how the vines look after the ripping work:

More space for less grapes

It’s a lot of work and I’m getting along slowly. Not even three lines this morning. But I’m getting to know the vineyard very well – vine by vine. And I can’t wait to taste it next year.

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