Winds of change

It’s spring. The most classic spring we’ve experienced in years. Some warm days, some chilly days, a little bit of rain here and there and a touch of frost a few times. The vineyards look beautiful. We had a good bud break, only a little bit of frost damage here and there and the greening looks beautifully diverse.

A fun indicator for the season so far is the growth of the fescue grass. In March it all looked like we’d have another crazy season heading towards a super early harvest. The sun was shining strongly and so the fescue grass grew fast and widely spread. In April the cold came back, the grass started panicking, flowered and got rid of its seeds. Now it’s still there but it doesn’t really grow anymore, it’s done its job.

But while nature was moving on on its way to the next vintage there was a lot happening under the bonnet. The main change clearly was my dad’s winemaker leaving us a couple of weeks ago. Not exactly the timing we had in mind. So it was finally time for me to force myself getting into machine stuff. I’ve never been a machine person. In fact, I avoid machines whenever I can. We have this really big and complex bottling machine that I never operated before. I took plenty of notes and pictures and when we’ll bottle Fledermaus in July we’ll see if that box does its job when I press a button. The winemaker also used to do all the tractor stuff, spraying in particular. Me: not a big fan of tractors either. But I’m getting used to all these wrenches and oils. There are a few areas though which are slightly scary to drive – steep, very little space to turn before it gets really steep … I tell you: if it’s not dry I will rather sacrifice these areas to Peranospora than go on a suicide mission.

Well and beside these two big topics there is an incredible amount of smaller machines (or parts of them), some I have no idea how to operate them. But also I don’t need most of them so selling all the equipment a conventional winery needs is another topic on the never-ending to-do list.

So it was with mixed feelings that I watched Victor and Nick running the show in the vineyard. So reliving having them but also really weird not being out there working the vines. The relieving part outweighs the other one by far though. We got a lot of extra stuff done this winter / early spring that we didn’t do the last years. Almost every vineyard got compost, either horse dung, bat guano or pomace mixed with Leonardite and rock dust. We sowed different flowers in different places. We dug a big pond underneath our baby vineyard to attract insects so they’ll bring wild yeasts into the vines in the future.

And then the regular stuff like disgorging the 2018 Pet-Nat, bottling the 2017 Heimat and Spätburgunder, getting new barrels down in the cellar, watching a whole bunch of lambs being born and growing up. And certainly much more.

One (important) reason this all worked out in the end were and are all the volunteers and interns helping us. Like Bart getting barrels down in the cellar, disgorging and digging part of the pond …

… Alex helping a lot with pruning in winter and our spring crew: Lasse, Kathi, Shane, Hannah and Dominik. A big thank you to everybody – a little bit of you will be in every wine of the 2019 vintage.

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