Bats, sheep & a lot more wine: the 2016 roundup

It’s winter. Cold, calm with our fourth vintage aging in the cellar. It’s not even been four years we’ve been doing all this. And so much happened! The first years were about getting started & quantities were small. This all changed with the 2015 vintage. We produced ten times more wine than it was 2013/2014 and I had a lot of sleepless nights. It was a relief seeing it all work out so well. So let me have a think what happened last year.

First let’s talk Fledermaus. The wines feel so established by now that it’s hard to imagine they weren’t bottled before February/March this year. The demand was enormous and the feedback overwhelming. “Paris is in Fledermaus-fever” Fleur (our French importer) wrote shortly after receiving the first palette. We couldn’t have been more excited. The Pet-Nat version – the Bat-Nat – followed in summer after disgorging and completed the bat family. We’ll have a research project happening in the Fledermaus-vineyard next year to learn more about what they do between the vines during the nights, how many there are etc. We’ll get more guano than we need thanks to all the press coverage. And we’ll have more wine too next year.

Talking coverage. With 2016 we gained a lot more visibility, also due to the fact that we finally had serious quantities of wine available. The Heimat Silvaner made it into Alice Feiring’s glass (and did well at the Wines without Walls event in Italy) and on the wine list of Noma. Our new Drei Freunde blend got a flattering recommendation in Montréal, almost the whole vintage got reviewed in the UK and good old 2013 Große Wanderlust was perceived well by Harold Hamersma in the Netherlands. In Germany articles were focussed a lot on the bats and the sheep.

Sheep? Yes, sheep. in July we got the first three Ouessants to tame the greening in the vineyard, by now it’s become eight of them. It’s another project we’re working on together with Christian from Naturgeflatter and the Landesbund für Vogelschutz. We want to find out by how much we can reduce tractor and mulcher usage. And it’s good fun too.

But it was not only the three bats, there were many new cuvées this year. Drei FreundeSpätburgunder and a whole new portfolio, Vater & Sohn. It’s supposed to close the gap between the winery’s old portfolio and customers and the natural wine. The wines are roughly filtered and lightly sulphured (20-30mg), a bit more classy, normal, safe and affordable. It didn’t work exactly how we expected it to work though. For many customers the wines remain challenging. While looking clear and tasting not extraordinarily crazy they are still made with minimal intervention so they have to be stored with care. They can become unclear again when bottled early (no bentonite fining) and there might be sediments at the bottom of the bottle. But the wine tastes better! So we’ll keep offering and explaining.

And everything has become even more international than it was in 2015. Our wines are now available in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, the UK and the US. If we’ve had more wine the list would be even longer – something for next year. Germany remains a small market for us but it has grown too. To get and keep all of this going we travelled quite a bit last year attending fairs and doing tastings (with the side effect of having breathtaking lunches & dinners like the one at Souvenir in the picture). And we’ll of course keep on doing this starting with Bottled Alive in Czech Republic followed by the legendary La Dive Bouteille in France, likely the Real Wine Fair in London plus a trip to New York and Montréal in summer.

Of course there was more going on. I’m thinking of the frost nights and the Peronospora massacres on the bad side. The first time working with interns on the good side (thanks Antoine, Sophia, Nick & Stephie!). With the 2016 vintage we made a lot more wine again although the yields were rather disappointing. Including the Vater&Sohn wines (a bit less than a third) it will be about 40k bottles. As all vineyards have been converted to organic farming (or are at least in the process of it) we looked for new ones to lease. And found a solid Müller-Thurgau / Bacchus and a tiny but gorgeous Silvaner parcel. I hope they’ll do well next year.

The first round of bottling will likely take place in the end of February with Fledermaus red & white as well as the Vater & Sohn basics. We’ll keep you updated about this. For now let us thank you for your trust & support without which we wouldn’t be even close to where we are these days. Thank you. A happy new year for all of you, see you in 2017!

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