Hello! This is 2Naturkinder: Melanie Drese and Michael Völker. Our (urban) family winery was founded in 1843 in the northern part of Bavaria on the river Main. Since 2012 we have turned it upside down: all of our 7ha are farmed organically, the juice becomes wine without additives and gets bottled without fining, filtering and – despite our Vater & Sohn blend – no added sulfites. Over the years we’ve developed from this parametric understanding to a much more holistic one. Soil to us is a living being. Together with the whole ecosystem it is part of us as we are part of it breathing the oxygen that the plants produce, attaching yeast from our fingers to the leaves of the vines, enabling the roots to connect to the mycorrhiza network to access nutrition that ends up in our body with the wine we drink. So how did we get there?
After dedicating many years at university to Jewish studies (Melanie) and philosophy (Michael) we worked in science publishing for six years – in Heidelberg, Regensburg, London and New York. Drinking wine in the big wine cities abroad we had our first bottle of natural wine more or less by accident. It was Boire Tue from Pascal Simonutti. It took us a while to understand why this wine and all the bottles we purchased the weeks after tasted so different and caused such an emotional response. Over time we learned that it was the lack of additives, filtration and often SO2. And we totally got addicted. Around that time it was time to make a decision about how to proceed – or if at all – with Michael’s parents’ winery in Kitzingen which has been in family hand since 1843. It was clear that we wouldn’t make any other wine than the wines we’d fallen in love with. It was also clear that it would be hard to sell it side by side with the conventional wine to the winery’s customers. So we needed new customers and we needed a name. And after many brainstorming nights & bottles 2Naturkinder was born.
Back to Germany
In June 2013 we left London behind and migrated back to the Franconias countryside. We got a little boy joining our family in August 2013 – just before our first harvest. It was exhausting although we started small: three wines made of Silvaner & Regent in three used barriques. But Michael had to help with all the conventional winemaking of course. And we quickly learned that it’s not only the vines & wines keeping us busy: the buildings we work and live in are a task for itself.
Since 2013 we’ve grown quite a bit. While 2014 was marked by a red wine disaster (but also our wedding!) we still increased production in 2015 which became quantity wise our first serious vintage introducing – besides others – the Fledermaus wines. In 2016 we introduced a second portfolio of wines: Vater & Sohn. Originally aimed at the old customers of the winery they turned out working better in the natural wine world. In 2019 we finally reached the size we thought we’d need to be self-sustainable. Just in time to allow Michael’s parents to retire as planned.
All our vineyards are now farmed organically or in conversion (we’ve leased several new plots in the last years), about 7ha. Depending on the year we also purchase organic or biodynamic grapes from friends. It helps us going through further years of change as we consolidate vineyards and plant new ones where it’s needed meaning years of work without any income from certain plots. Our wine is sold in more than 20 countries. And what started as a project has become our life.
For the first years our philosophy could be summed up in the nowadays classic definition of organic farming plus „nothing added, nothing taken away“ regarding the wine. Since then we understood that our key challenge as humans, for our farming and winemaking is to understand the role of alienation. Not only machinery, technology and chemistry but also seemingly economic constraints enforcing them have contributed building an increasing distance. Between body and soul, human and nature, craft and creation, life and work. By making everything controllable, available, the world becomes unavailable to us.
We forgot what our indigenous fellow humans still know: We are earth and the earth is us. Everything feels. Nature is full of abundance. And to experience moments of resonance there needs to be a dialogue of emotions. Truly understanding that leads to a radical mind shift.
Farming land it is not only about sticking to a list of restrictions (which we do nonetheless because they’re reasonable). By understanding soil as an animate being that is full of desire to be and to give, that is part of us as we’re part of it, we don’t want to hurt it. We’d hurt ourselves. When we spray, drive the tractor or (very rarely) till we’re aware of the damage we do and try to minimize and compensate it. Minimizing means giving up control which means decreasing distance and counteract alienation. As a farmer being part of the vineyard you can ensure that there’ll be enough fruit to pick. By helping your land to become a diverse, robust and stable ecosystem. Increasing biodiversity means compensating for the unnatural number and pattern of vines on a piece of land. Planting trees, suggesting to nature a hand full of seeds (which might or might not grow) or piling up stones for lizards in the vineyard. Feeding the microorganisms in the soil with the right compost or bringing in more bacteria with a tea.
The same principles apply once the grapes have been picked. There are many ways to control juice and wine physically. To be on the safe side. To enforce flavors that wouldn’t occur in a natural ambient. Like temperature control or filtration. There is of course the magical toolbox of additives. But also gas and dry ice somewhere in between. A juice full of life has been composed by nature (and thus us). Now we can influence the interpretation of this composition by pressing directly, giving it skin contact time, ferment it on the skins, stuff like that. But all that’s technically left to do is providing a healthily (not hygienically) clean environment so yeasts and bacteria can start playing.
Our role is the role of a participant. Of nature composing a juice. Of the interpretation bringing specific flavors to shine. A very important participant without whom the wine wouldn’t exist. But not more. A less predictable wine becomes more available to us. Because we allow for it being alive. Less control means there is a higher risk to fail. But also a higher degree of excitement to achieve and moments of true resonance. With nature, wine and the world.
Talk to us
We’ll be always asking for your feedback & your help to get it right. We’re looking forward to being reminded on aspects we might have forgotten, arguing about priorities and improving as winegrowers as well as as human beings. We’ll appreciate any input as we don’t want to make wine for inspecting authorities or competitions but for you and us.
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