With my parents retiring at the end of 2019 the following year 2020 was a challenging start with a late spring frost destroying the majority of our grapes and the pandemic impacting life, work and business. So 2021 was supposed to be a year of stabilizing all those aspects – what of course did not work out at all. All lot of things happened nonetheless.
The first major incident was a week of frost as it hadn’t been seen in a long time. -20° Celsius is tough for the vines and particularly two vineyards (including the Pinot Gris on the picture) got severely damaged ending up with a dead crown. It took until bud break for us to realize the damage. It can all be rebuild but years of work are gone. An event not particularly contributing to a promising season.
Together with friend & colleague Andi Weigand we decided in 2021 to add the biodynamic preparation aspect to our farming approach. Biodynamics is way more than spraying horn manure and silica mixed with dynamized water. It’s open to many interpretations but a holistic way of working with nature rather than commanding it unites all of them. And if we do it we do it properly so of course we made everything we could ourselves.
After a break in 2020 we had lambs again – 14 of them! Never been as tame and cute as they were before. And while vegetarians (including Melanie) don’t appreciate this aspect: the rams made a delicious ham.
Another major piece of work was one hectare of trellising to be built in the vineyard we planted the year before. Thousand of posts, kilometers of wires, integrating those dead wood biotopes and the apple trees (of which we had planted 35 within the vineyard).
And then came the rain and didn’t stop. No spring frost on the positive side but oh lord the downey mildew. It hasn’t been that bad for decades. Conventional growers with their systemic fungicides were doing fine but copper was just not enough. Plus often the soil was so wet that it was impossible to plow the tractor up the hill. All those desperate Saturday morning backpack sprayer actions, it was just not enough. At least 60% of the yield died.
It was a strange harvest in ‘21. The lack of sunshine (and sometimes leaves) mad the grapes ripen much slower than expected. And then of course frustrating quantities. But on the bright side those grapes we could bring in were super concentrated, full of nutritions. Fermentations went exceptionally well and the small amounts in the cellar are very promising.
Certainly the highlight of harvest was the first pick of the garden vineyard we planted in 2019. That mix of 20 varieties, the ancient field-blend of our region formally called “Frentsch” (and nicely portrayed in Trink magazine). Just enough for a small barrel. Already a joy to taste this but of course it needs much more time.
Something else we hadn’t done before: play restaurant. Together with our friend, chef Benedikt Hammerl, we ran a small series of pop-up dinners integrating the cellar for the first glass, dining in our big (and then empty) storage room. It was amazing seeing people come from around the corner but also Belgium, Luxemburg or even Mexico. It’s fairly intense but also big fun and might well happen again.
What else? We did of course bottle wine. Much less than the previous year but containing some outstanding cuvées like the 2019 Weinschwärmer. We contributed two blends to the “Les cuvées militantes” lineup of our Parisian importer Fleur Godart. There was a little documentary on German TV about our 2019 vintage:
There was money from the Fledermaus wine well spent on building a hedge. And last but not least we’re healthy and alive.
So what’s coming up this year: there is another vineyard to be planted in spring, another field-blend of hybrids. We’ll work hard to get a solid yield after two years of losses. Lots of gaps will be closed in the apple tree vineyard which could bring a first small yield to play with. And fairs will hopefully come back up on the schedule so hopefully we’ll see some of you finally again this year.
Until then – stay healthy, stay safe and have a sparkling 2022!