KNIT

A collaborative distribution of focused wine micro-portfolios. Available in NY / NJ / IL.

About

KNIT wine was born out of the need for natural wine micro-portfolios to create market efficiencies, while maintaining their regional focus. KNIT is a distribution platform for selected focused micro-portfolios, currently representing the regions of Greece, Italy, Eastern Europe, and the Middle East. 

Portfolios

Wineries

  • Everything
  • Austria
  • Greece
  • Hungary
  • Italy
  • Lebanon
  • Slovenia
Italy

Vigneti Vallorani

Vigneti Vallorani

Rocco Vallorani is a one man show run by Rocco Valloranione, one of southern Marche's wine's rising stars about the evolution of his region. His winery is located between the Sibillini national park (central Appennines) and the Adriatic Sea in the town of Colli del Tronto. In his mind he makes natural wine in a Burgundian way. In our minds, other than some battonage, lees aging, and fermentation in old oak here and there, this is 100% Central Italy at its best: the reds are gamey and earthy while the whites manage to be both rich and seasidey saline at the same time.

 

Italy

Castrum Morisci

Castrum Morisci

The farm, deeply oriented to organic farming, extends over 7.5 hectares of vineyards among the rolling hills of the Marche hinterland at the foot of the medieval village of Moresco. The proximity of the sea and the particular terroir give the products an unmistakable connotation. We vinify with the use of steel vats, terracotta and wood, with the desire to discover and enhance all the aromatic range of cultivated vines. 

How Le Marche is Le Marche? Castrum Morisci has been making wine for over 80 years, but it wasn't until a nephew convinced them to incorporate 5 years ago that they decided to make labels and put corks in the bottles. Meanwhile we're dealing with a perfectly situated winery: old vines on sandy clay soil in a valley 250m above sea level with the Adriatic less than 5km away funneling salty air into the chasm. Castrum Morisci is also a great example of the punk energy of youth working hand in hand with the wisdom of the elders.

Italy

Rapillo

Rapillo

Azienda Agricola Rapillo is a biodynamic farm located in Serrone in the heart of the Ciociaria 350 meters above sea level between the Valle del Latini and the Arcinazzo plateaus. This is a scraggy nearly inhospitable volcanic terrain -- in fact its name means ‘serrated’ -- not conveniently located near an Autostrada nor near anyone’s beaten path really. The soil ranges from terra rossa to sand and limestone. They are growing their local grapes, Cesanese and Passerina. This is a true "vino del contadino" -- Rapillo wasn't even bottling these wines until we found them! They were just selling them "sfuso" direct from the stainless steel tanks into whatever container the locals brought to fill it up with. How "contadino" are they? When we convinced them to come to NYC for RAW 2016 it was the vigneron's (Enzo) first time on a plane ever and he stayed on this side of the Atlantic for a total of 48 hours before high-tailing it back home.

Italy

Malena

Malena

The proximity to the Ionic Sea means that there are warm and salty air currents, creating an exceptional climate in the hinterland and a particularly mild environment with a notably high annual average temperature. Interestingly, though Malena makes some higher end natural wine, it is their organic entry level wines that pull at our heartstrings. They speak to the arid sun-drenched Ionian terroir better than their higher end wines (currently) do. How could this be? I think it all comes down to where the winemaker's soul is. To put it in his own words "I like to shave, I don't like to have a beard.”

Greece

Kalogris Organic Winery

Kalogris Organic Winery

Kalogris Organic Winery is a historical small family winery in the famous Mantineia plateau, the birthplace of the gray-skin Moschofilero grape.

Moschofilero is potentially linked to the “smokey vines” of ancient Greece, and is part of the very adaptive “Filery” family of grapes. Moschofilero is the most aromatic in the family, and the family is almost exclusively focused on this grape.

The winery was established in 1980, when Evangelos’ grandfather handed over to him the traditional family house, under the condition that he would convert it to a winery that would accept visitors. The family traces its vine growing past in the area, all the way back to 1870. Evangelos converted the old house to an organic stone-built winery, which he runs today with his wife and two daughters.

The vineyard measures 3 hectares, and labors are performed manually by the family. Winemaking has always been traditional, with wild fermentations and mild intervention.

  • Winery: Kalogris Organic Winery
  • Focus: Moschofilero grape
  • Region: Mantinia (Peloponnese)
  • Year founded: 1980
  • Size: 3 hectares
  • Grapes: Moschofilero
  • Viticulture: Organic (certified)
  • Climate: Cold Winters, sunny Summers, low temperatures during harvest.
  • Soil: Clay / Loam
  • Vine age: Planted between 1980 and 1995
  • Altitude: 670m
  • Distance from coast: 20 miles
  • Percentage of estate owned grapes: 100%

Greece

Oenogenesis

Oenogenesis

Oenogenesis is owned and operated by one of the greatest oenologists of Greece, Bakis Tsalkos (trained and experienced in Montpellier and Bordeaux for most of his life). He belongs to the generation of oenologists who revived the Greek wine industry, and he single-handedly created the winemaking industry of Drama in the 80’s, the youngest one of Greece. His principle is the absence of anything chemical, with as little intervention or spraying in the vineyard as possible. At least 85% of grapes used, grow in the 30 ha of estate owned vineyards.

  • Winery: Oenogenesis
  • Focus: Blends of indigenous and international grapes, with elegance and balance
  • Region: Drama (Macedonia)
  • Year founded: 2007
  • Size: 30 hectares
  • Grapes: Assyrtiko / Malagousia / Xinomavro / Sauvignon Blanc / Ugni Blanc / Semillon / Grenache Rouge / Cabernet Sauvignon / Merlot
  • Viticulture: Low Intervention / Sustainable
  • Climate: Mediterranean climate with mild Winters and dry Summers
  • Soil: Chalky clay
  • Vine age: Planted between 1987 and 2007
  • Altitude: 220-260m
  • Distance from coast: 18 miles
  • Percentage of estate owned grapes: 85%

Greece

Doric

Doric

Giorgos Balatsouras has been farming and vinifying rare local grapes, with organic certification, since 1998. His love for his birthplace, the village of Koniakos, which is very close to the ancient site of Delphi and the lake Mornou, shows in the honesty of the wines, which are made with the same methods that his family used for generations. This gives his wines a clearly traditional character.

Giorgos started making wine to preserve those family traditions, which were starting to disappear with the demise of many remote Greek villages and their vineyards, such as Koniakos. Koniakos sits in a fir forest, at an altitude of 800 meters, and is itself an alpine and pristine environment, far away from any human intervention. It is also here, where the bucolic “Kosmas” red grape was born, which is locally also known as “Gousmadia”. Giorgos single-handedly saved the variety from extinction, by having it officially recognized by the Greek authorities, and devoting all his red wine production to the tiny vineyard that he inherited from his family.

The area around Koniakos has been inhabited since ancient times, and considered the hub of the Dorians, one of the four main ancient Greek tribes. The continental / alpine micro-climate, creates favorable conditions for slow spontaneous fermentations. Farming is almost archaic, with no irrigation anywhere close by. Vinification adheres to the traditions, which are perfectly adapted to the local resources; open wood fermenters are covered with fir branches for cap management, with river stones keeping the skins submerged in their must. The fir secretes its flavorless resin, which adds texture to the wine, but also protects it thanks to its antiseptic properties. Giorgos does not add anything to the wine and does not interfere any further, with the objective of preserving the pristine and virgin nature of the local environment, which has always been clean of human intervention and pollution.

  • Winery: Doric Wines
  • Focus: Traditional Vinification Methods in an Alpine terroir
  • Region: Delphi (Central Greece)
  • Year founded: 1998
  • Size: 0.85 ha
  • Grapes: Kosmas (Gousmadia), Roditis, Malagousia
  • Viticulture: Organic (certified) and Dry
  • Climate: Heavy Winters, humid Spring, and a mild Summer, with constant winds which mitigate humidity.
  • Soil: Limestone with excellent drainage
  • Vine age: Planted in 2002
  • Altitude: 800m
  • Distance from coast: 25 miles
  • Percentage of estate owned grapes: 100%

Greece

Garalis

Garalis

Manolis Garalis is a third generation wine grower. With an ambition to see his high quality organic grapes turned into first class wine, he launched his own winery in 2006 and released his first wines in 2007. He cultivates Lemnos island’s Limnio and Muscat of Alexandria, organically (certified), in 5 hectares of sulphuric volcanic soil.

Limnio is the oldest referenced grape in the world, as mentioned by Aristotle, Homer and other ancient Greek philosophers as “Limnia Ampelos”, and has been on the island for thousands of years. Muscat of Alexandria has become the main grape since the 1920’s, when brought by Lemnian immigrants from Egypt.

Lemnos is a volcanic island, and Garalis’ approach is “hands-off” without any addition of yeasts or other additives, to express this unique terroir in its pure form.

  • Winery: Garalis
  • Focus: Volcanic natural dry wines from Limnio and Muscat of Alexandria
  • Region: Lemnos island (Aegean islands)
  • Year founded: 2006
  • Size: 5 hectares
  • Grapes: Limnio / Muscat of Alexandria
  • Viticulture: Organic
  • Climate:Dry and warm Summers, with limited rainfalls
  • Soil: Volcanic soil, poor in nutrients, and some limestone
  • Vine age: Planted between 1972 to 2015
  • Altitude: 150-200m
  • Distance from coast: 3 miles
  • Percentage of estate owned grapes: 90%

Greece

Kontozisis Organic Vineyards

Kontozisis Organic Vineyards

Kontozisis Organic Vineyards is an organic grower in Karditsa, a rural town in the region of Thessaly. Karditsa is known as the bicycle capital of Greece, and the homeland of the impressive Limniona red grape. The winery and vineyards are on the foothills of mount Agrafa, in two distinctive terroirs between Kanalia and Dafnospilia.

Kontozisis has been practicing certified organic agriculture and organic vinification since 1991, one of the first to get such a certification in Greece. His long term commitment to organic practices shows his honest approach to sustainability. Having worked only with the local market of Karditsa, organic practices were something that was not appreciated, but Kontozisis insisted on farming without chemicals, and making honest, natural wines. The few loyal fans of Kontozisis wines in Karditsa were enough to keep going throughout the years, and eventually making them available to a market that fully embraced the authenticity in those wines; the big urban centers of the United States.

Andreas Kontozisis and his partner Aphrodite Tousia are working passionately with the area’s indigenous red grape, Limniona, among others, for which they have developed proprietary vineyard techniques to get as much concentration as possible from the variety’s large grapes. All grapes are hand harvested and pruned from the low-yield (28 hectoliters / ha) estate-owned vineyards of 11 ha. Kontozisis uses no press (only free run wines) and no commercial yeasts.

  • Winery: Kontozisis Organic Vineyards
  • Focus: Natural vinifications of the local Limniona and Malagousia grapes
  • Region: Karditsa (Thessaly)
  • Year founded: 1991
  • Size: 11 hectares
  • Grapes: Limniona / Xinomavro / Merlot / Syrah / Malagousia / Assyrtiko / Roditis / Chardonnay
  • Viticulture: Organic
  • Climate: Warm and sunny during summer with low precipitation. Mountain 
formations provide cool nights (the big variance of temperature between day and night, together with the area’s micro-climate, soil, and cold currents from the surrounding mountains, give the wines / grapes their unique expression and sense of place). Rains could be a problem during mid to  
late September.
  • Soil: Sand / loam
  • Vine age: Planted between 1991 and 2010
  • Altitude: 200-250m
  • Distance from coast: 50 miles
  • Percentage of estate owned grapes: 100%

Greece

Sant’Or

Sant’Or

Sant’Or wines is located outside the historical 3rd largest Greek city of Patra, and operated by a local grower, Panagiotis Dimitropoulos, who is cultivating his 4.5 ha of vineyards biodynamically, at an altitude of 600m, with no irrigation. Indigenous to the historical village of Santomeri is the rare white grape Santameriana, as well as the famous (for its sweet wines) red grape Mavrodafni (literally “black laurel”), revived through impressive dry vinifications. Panagiotis is the only grower cultivating the Santameriana grape, and one of very few making dry monovarietal Mavrodafni.

The vineyards came to Panagiotis through his father and generations of wine growers. His vision was to continue the family tradition as authentically as possible, and raise awareness on the local indigenous grapes. His vinifications are based on healthy and rigorous fruits through dry, biodynamic vinification, and wild fermented and naturally vinified wines, with experimentation of aging in various materials (clay amphoras, cement, old oak).

  • Winery: Sant’Or
  • Focus: Rare indigenous Mavrodafni and Santameriana grapes in natural vinifications
  • Region: Patra (Peloponnese)
  • Year founded: 2007
  • Size: 4.5 hectares
  • Grapes: Mavrodafni / Agiorgitiko / Santameriana / Roditis
  • Viticulture: Biodynamic / Dry
  • Climate: Mild Winters, dry Summers
  • Soil: Clay loam, chistose rocks
  • Vine age: Planted in 1960 and 1987
  • Altitude: 500m
  • Percentage of estate owned grapes: 100%

Greece

Xydakis Microwinery

Xydakis Microwinery

Giorgos Xydakis is a native of Mykonos island, one of the most popular Cycladic islands of Greece, alas better known for its night life and party scene. Giorgos Xydakis developed his immense love for his island and its tradition, when he was watching (and tasting with) his grower grandfather making traditional wine, back in the 60’s. Even though he later went on to become a dentist, which is his main profession, his vision to bring back the (agri)culture and rich Mykonian traditions never faded out. He started his micro-winery in 2001, which was centered around an old, garden-size vineyard of local varieties. His ambition was to revive local and, mostly, forgotten Cycladic varieties, through garage-style natural vinifications. Some of the varieties included in Giorgos’ wines, have obscure names like Xeromacherou (meaning “dry knife”), Kouforogo (“hollow berry”), and Potamisi (“river”), and their history is almost lost in oblivion. Those not sourced from his organically farmed garden, come from old and abandoned or semi-uncultivated vineyards of Mykonos and surrounding Cycladic islands (Antiparos, Syros, Andros, Tinos, etc), which Giorgos spots and forages / harvests himself.

  • Winery: Xydakis Microwinery
  • Focus: Indigenous Cycladic varieties
  • Region: Mykonos (Aegean Islands)
  • Year founded: 2001
  • Size:Terraced garden – Some grapes sourced from uncultivated and semi-uncultivated vineyards
  • Grapes: Potamisi white, Potamisi red, Monemvasia, Serfiotiko, Assyrtiko, Mavrotragano, Xeromahairou white, Xeromahairou red, Kouforogo, Ayaniotiko,Mavri Askatharia
  • Viticulture: Organic (certified) and Dry / Uncultivated
  • Climate: Dry Mediterranean, with mild Winters, hot and dry Summers.
  • Soil:Sandy
  • Vine age:Planted between 1988 and 1991
  • Altitude:100m
  • Distance from coast: 1 mile
  • Percentage of estate owned grapes: 50%

Greece

Stilianou

Stilianou

Giannis Stilianou and his teenage son, personally tend to their 3 hectares of organic vineyards, planted only with indigenous Cretan varieties. There is no irrigation or any kind of spraying. The vines are stressed under the hot, Cretan Sun, and then cooled off by the mountain breeze. This shows in the impressive concentration and intense aromatics of the artisanal Stilianou wines.

Giannis’ family emigrated to Crete after the last war between Greece and Turkey, a century ago, along with the rest of a Greek population wave, and brought with them many techniques of Asia Minor. One of them was the sun drying of grapes on “tsisveres“, wooden boards that are spread on the ground during the day, and stacked at night, in a way that allows for air to flow through and prevent any humidity issues. This traditional method is used in the product of the naturally sweet, sun dried Kotsifali, the only sweet vinification of the grape in the world.

Giannis Stilianou initially decided to follow a different career path, and studied engineering. After working in that field for a while, he decided his heart belonged in the vineyards, where he grew up and loved as a kid and teenager.

  • Winery: Stilianou
  • Focus: Organic blends from indigenous Cretan varieties
  • Region: Kounavoi, Heraklion (Crete)
  • Year founded: 1922
  • Size:3 hectares
  • Grapes: Vidiano / Thrapsathiri / Vilana / Kotsifali / Mandilari
  • Viticulture: Organic / Dry / Unsprayed
  • Climate:Subtle Winters with Continental traits. Humid Falls. The Northwest winds during the Summer tame the extreme heat, while there is great variance of temperature during the 24 hours of the day.
  • Soil:Limestone, rock
  • Vine age:Planted between 1982 and 2011
  • Altitude:350-420m
  • Distance from coast: 8 miles
  • Percentage of estate owned grapes: 100%

 

Greece

Papras Bio Wines

Papras Bio Wines

Papras Bio Wines is operated by the Papras family. Stergios Papras, the family’s oenologist, was the local co-op’s president and oenologist from 1979 until recently, who gave the region its current fame in regards to the Black Muscat of Tyrnavos grape, and the quality production of tsipouro. It is no coincidence that Tyrnavos is the only town of Greece with a PDO appellation (highest tier) for a distilled product.

Stergios Papras, has always been an advocate for organic viticulture, and his vineyards have been certified organic since 1990 (the first year this was possible for Greece). His brother, Thomas, and his son, personally tend to the vineyards. The focus is on fresh, organic, sparkling and still wines, with the indigenous grapes of the area, mainly Black Muscat of Tyrnavos, and Roditis, the rosy-skinned and second most planted grape of Greece.

The unique terroir of Tyrnavos, sitting on one of the few plains of Greece, under the tallest mountain of the country, mount Olympus, provide optimal conditions for sparkling and highly aromatic wines.

  • Winery: Papras Bio Wines
  • Focus: Sparkling wines and the local Black Muscat of Tyrnavos grape
  • Region: Tyrnavos (Thessaly)
  • Year founded: 2012
  • Size:4.5 hectares
  • Grapes: Black Muscat of Tyrnavos / Roditis / Batiki / Cabernet Sauvignon / Merlot
  • Viticulture: Organic (certified)
  • Climate:Mediterranean climate with mild Winters and dry Summers
  • Soil: Mainly limestone, with good straining properties, and a PH of 7-7.8.
  • Vine age:Planted between 1997 and 2002
  • Altitude:110m
  • Distance from coast:40 miles
  • Percentage of estate owned grapes: 100%

 

Lebanon

Dar Richi

Dar Richi

Abdullah Richi is a Syrian winemaker in Lebanon, who learned the trade when he moved to Lebanon to work in the Bekaa Valley. He works at Couvent Rouge winery in Deir el Ahmar, a city in the northwest part of the valley. Vineyard elevations are around and over 1,000 meters, which means it is far cooler than the southern valley stretches. Abdullah also makes wine under his own label called Dar Richi (Richi’s Home).

Some of these vines etch out of terra rossa soil at 1300 meters in Ainata, Bekaa Valley. They are around 10 years old, and are certified organic and fair trade. The vineyards are part of an effort to pull up hash (which is illegal in Lebanon) and plant vines. The other vines were planted by Abdullah near the Mediterranean in Bousit, where he employs the same farming methods.

Using low intervention winemaking is Richi’s way to honor the country he’s called home. The bunches are crushed and destemmed using a small machine, and put into tank for spontaneous fermentation. Post fermentation maceration was almost 7 weeks. And then the grapes were pressed by a small, 55 liter, wooden, hand cranked, basket press. No SO2 used till the first racking, which was only 5ppm. It was racked 6 times, which just small amounts of sulfur being added each time, hence the total SO2 is 11ppm. No sulfur was added at bottling, which was in late 2018 after three years.

Social Value: This wine is a testament to Abdullah’s wife Hanan: kindness, love, tenderness and a good heart. The fact is Abdullah is a refugee. However, this wine is an investment for the winery that he’ll be constructing in Syria. Unbeknownst to many, there are 116,000 acres of vineyards planted across Syria.Purchasing this wine creates a direct link for Abdullah to utilizing the resources already present in Syria, support and uplift communities, and build a dream for a country that is rebuilding.

Greece

Sarris

Sarris

Panos Sarris is a young winemaker and trained sommelier, who recently took over his family’s old Robola vineyards and built a new small winery to accommodate his natural winemaking goals.

The family vineyards are the epitome of the Robola grape on the island of Kefalonia, and have been for decades serving as the raw ingredient in other winemakers’ Robola wines. Panos decided to change this, and turn the old, bush-trained ungrafted, dry, mountainous Robola vines into pure natural wines under his name.

The terraced, bush-trained vineyards were planted ungrafted in Fagias, on the really steep slopes of mount Ainos, in 1979, on poor limestone gravel, at an altitude of 800m.

Panos’ wines are spontaneously fermented, unfiltered, and unfined, using foot stomping and various neutral oak barrels, to give his wines the raw maritime character that reflects the island of Kefalonia. Panos’ wines are some of the crunchiest and most idiosyncratic we have tasted. 

Panos is also making some red Mavrodafni from the island’s local clone, from his most recently planted vineyards, and a barrel aged Vostilidi from purchased organic grapes.

  • Winery: Panos Sarris
  • Focus: Natural Robola from old ungrafted vines
  • Region: Kefalonia (Ionian Islands)
  • Year founded: 2011
  • Size:2 hectares
  • Grapes: Robola, Vostilidi, Mavrodafni
  • Viticulture: Organic (not certified)
  • Climate: Low Winter temperatures, normal rainfall, hot Summers, low humidity
  • Soil:Limestone gravel with 70% slope (terraced)
  • Vine age:Planted in 1979
  • Altitude:800m
  • Distance from coast: 1 mile
  • Percentage of estate owned grapes: 80%

Greece

Vaimaki Family

Vaimaki Family

Vaimaki Family” is the urban winemaking project of oenologist Vasilis Vaimakis. An oenologist with vast winemaking experience, Vaimakis is also one of the first oenologists of Greece who explored the limits of natural vinification of Greek grapes with zero sulfites. Although Eklektikon’s portfolio is centered around growers, Vaimaki Family is the only exception to the rule, in order to represent the first Greek vintages of no-added-sulfite wines, under the iconic and ever-changing label “Mater Natura”.

The Vaimakis family started working with wine production in the late 19th century. Vasilis Vaimakis wanted to revive the family winemaking tradition back in the 70’s, as a young oenologist, and started working for the Co-Op of Zitsa and Amyndeo, where he led both to unexpected commercial success. In the 90’s, having gained immense experience, he completed his PhD with a focus on the oxidation of white wines and ways to address that. He started experimenting with zero-sulfite wines in order to communicate the terroir of promising Greek grapes, and launched the Mater Natura line in 2009. Mater Natura is a series of unique numbers, reflecting unique vinifications that never repeat themselves.

  • Winery: Vaimaki Family
  • Focus: Zero-sulfite vinifications of Xinomavro
  • Region: Amyndeo (Macedonia)
  • Year founded: 2008
  • Oenologist: Vasilis Vaimakis
  • Size:No Estate Owned Vineyards
  • Grapes: Xinomavro
  • Viticulture: Organic (partnering vineyards)
  • Climate: Alpine terroir with cold Winters and mild Summers, near the lake Vegoritis
  • Soil:Sandy and sandy-clay, over limestone with excellent drainage
  • Vine age:Planted between 1980 and 1990
  • Altitude:650m
  • Distance from lake: 6 miles
  • Percentage of estate owned grapes: 0%

Greece

Halkia

Halkia

Anna Halkia is a small organic female grower and winemaker in Nemea, the largest winemaking region of Greece and home to the Agiorgitiko grape (which is the most planted red Greek grape).

Anna grew up in Australia with her immigrant parents, and moved back to Nemea as an adult, to start her family with her husband. Her consciousness and care for her family had led her to organic viticulture, which, she felt, would shine more if she turned into her own wine, instead of selling her organic grapes as raw material and mixed with inferior quality grapes. In the early 2000s, she decided to create a basic winemaking facility in the back of her house, where the family’s vineyards are located. The lack of investment forced her to rely on basic technology and natural winemaking. There was no surplus of funds to buy lab yeasts and enzymes, which a consulting oenologist had advised her to do, so necessity turned her to wild fermentation and lo-fi winemaking. Her wines, naturally, earned a following, due to their raw expression of the organic fruit. Anna also applied and received her organic certification, to prove part of the work that goes into the vineyard.

Today Anna is still selling locally the small-batch wines she makes from Agiorgitiko, Assyrtiko, and Roditis grapes, following the same methods she was forced to adopt, and which helped them stand out from the norm.

  • Winery: Halkia Winery
  • Focus: Agiorgitiko grape
  • Region: Nemea (Peloponnese)
  • Year founded: 2007
  • Size:3.7 hectares
  • Grapes: Agiorgitiko, Assyrtiko, Roditis
  • Viticulture: Organic (certified)
  • Climate: Cold Winters with few but dense snowfalls (down to -15C temperatures), and dry, hot Summers with few heatwaves (up to 42C temperatures).
  • Soil:Limestone / Clay
  • Vine age:Planted between 1996 and 2014
  • Altitude:280-330m
  • Distance from coast: 13 miles
  • Percentage of estate owned grapes: 100%

Greece

Georgas Family

Georgas Family

The Georgas Family is located in the historical area of Spata, the center of retsina and the unexplored Savatiano white grape, where they can trace their agriculture roots 380 years back. They cultivate their 4.5 ha of estate owned dry vineyards biodynamically, with very low yields (21 hectoliters / ha). Vinification is natural, through spontaneous fermentation, no intervention, no sulphur (for most wines), and up to a week of skin contact, which gives their wines a characteristic bronze color.

The Georgas Family counts more than 380 years of recorded wine growing tradition in the town of Spata. The street where the family lives, which is the family’s old winery, bears its name (G. Georgas street). The current winery is the restored historical winery of “Kambas”.

Dimitris Georgas had no intention of becoming a winemaker. After a degree in geology, and two masters degrees in oceanography and environmental management, he inherited the vineyards when his father passed away. He decided to take the plunge, and immediately turned to organic viticulture in 1998, and started farming biodynamically only a few years later.

Savatiano is the most planted grape of Greece, yet still largely unexplored. It is indigenous to the Attica region of Central Greece, the hottest and most arid area of Greece, as it is very resistant to heat and drought. Its cultivation is linked to its productivity, which was important for the most populous region of Greece. However, its use in low quality retsina wine of the 70’s and 80’s, gave it a bad reputation, which explains why it has remained unexplored. Its potential is starting to shine in the hands of artisanal growers like Georgas, who make it in fresh, aged, and sweet vinifications, with impressive results.

Retsina is another unexplored wine, because of its adulteration and low quality of recent times. It stems from the ancient Greek practice of sealing clay amphorae with fresh pine resin, which accidentally protected the wine from spoiling. Spata is the historical region of retsina, with a very long tradition around it and the Savatiano grape. Retsina bears a “Traditional Appellation“, one of the few such appellations in the world.

  • Winery: Georgas Family
  • Focus: Savatiano grape and retsina through natural and unsulphured wines
  • Region: Spata, Attica (Central Greece)
  • Year founded: 1998
  • Size:4.5 hectares
  • Grapes: Savatiano / Assyrtiko / Malagousia / Mandilaria / Agiorgitiko / Merlot / Syrah
  • Viticulture: Biodynamic / Dry
  • Climate: Dry, arid climate. Mild Winters, hot Summers (proximity to sea offers some breeze)
  • Soil:Clay loam / calcium
  • Vine age:Planted between 1962 and 2007
  • Altitude:120-150m
  • Distance from coast: 5 miles
  • Percentage of estate owned grapes: 100%


Greece

Siflogo

Siflogo

Siflogo is a small organic wine “workshop” (as their owners call it), which was founded in 1994 by Dionysis and Maria Papanikolopoulos, in the small, mountainous village “Platystoma”, on the island of Lefkada in the Ionian sea. Their son, Vasilis, is also involved and destined to take over after a few years.

Viticulture and winemaking has been a family tradition and occupation for many generations. Its production is limited to a handful of “pure” wine bottles. The family has been farming organically (certified) the island’s indigenous grapes: Vertzami, Vardea, but also more obscure grapes, like Mavropatrino, Chlori, Thiako, Apsrovartzamo, Kokkinostafylo.

At an altitude of 500m on the dry, poor, limestone rocky soils – which have never seen chemical fertilizers, pesticides, or any harmful intervention – the ungrafted vines struggle to produce low yields, which, however, lead to impressive results in the winery. Farming is done exclusively by hand, with only a little help from plant fertilization, bluestone, and sulphur.

The underground stone-built cellars are equipped with a few stainless steel tanks and old French oak barrels. The family has always been a stickler for tradition, and stubbornly chose the hard way of working manually, with no intervention, to preserve the expression of their place in their wines.

Dionysis Papanikolopoulos worked as a teacher for most of his life, and he has also published poetry books. After discussing with him, one understands his deep knowledge and sensitivity for his local heritage, culture and history, and his passionate effort to preserve through his own wines.

  • Winery: Siflogo
  • Focus: Natural monovarietals from Vertzami and Vardea
  • Region: Lefkada (Ionian Islands)
  • Year founded: 1994
  • Size:1.8 hectares
  • Grapes: Vertzami / Vardea / Mavropatrino
  • Viticulture: Organic (certified)
  • Climate: Mediterranean humid climate with average temperatures of 15° C, and 69% humidity
  • Soil:Limestone rocks
  • Vine age:Planted in 1988
  • Altitude:500m
  • Distance from coast: 2 miles
  • Percentage of estate owned grapes: 100%

Slovenia

Štoka

Štoka

Wind, caverns and the Adriatic Sea define the Slovenian/Italian border region of the Kras. For over 200 years, the Štoka family has nurtured the native red Teran and white Vitovska in the iron rich “terra rossa” that the Kras is famous for.

 

At a Glance

1989
http://stoka.si/eng/stoka
Kras
Sub Mediterranean
Red Karst (Terra Rossa)
250-270m
Limestone karst plateau
Teran, Vitovska, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Merlot and Malvasia.
7 hectares
Organic
Animal manure

The People

The Štoka farm is located north-east of Trieste about 5 miles from the Adriatic in the village of Krajna Vas. The Kras, or “Carso” as it is called in nearby Italy, is Europe’s first recognized cross border wine region, the two countries even adhere to similar production regulations. Despite its excellent position, very little land in the Kras is suitable for grape cultivation, only 600 hectares of vines are planted between the 2 countries. The tiny amount of fertile soil is the result of various human and natural events. Historically oak forests dominated the land until the Venetians deforested nearly everything to build ships and city of Venice. The resulting erosion and the famously strong winds called the “burja” caused huge amounts of topsoil to simply blow away. People learned how to build stonewalls called “griže” to protect against the wind and small manmade lakes to gather rain called “kali” to keep crops alive. Farmers, including the Štoka family, even learned to transport soil to naturally protected locations.
Coupled with the regions already soluble bedrock (mostly limestone and dolomite) and lack of surface water, the Kras is riddled with sinkholes, cenotes, and massive mostly unexplored underground caves. It is one of the most severe and unique terroirs in the world. In addition to growing grapes and making wine, the Štoka family raise cattle and pigs. The pršut, or air-dried ham they produce is the ultimate compliment to their wines. Primož Štoka bottled his first wine 1989 just before Slovenia’s separation from former Yugoslavia. Today, his son Tadej, works alongside him in the vineyards and cellar.

Vineyards

Historically, Teran from Kras has been prized for its medicinal properties, it is one of Slovenia’s only wines of protected origin. Outside of Kras, the Teran vine is known as Refošk. The high content of aluminum and iron oxide in the Karst soil, gives the soil the characteristic red color and the wines their unusually high iron content. Conditions here are generally dry, windy and variable in temperature. The Štoka family farms about 25 hectares, Teran accounts for about half of this, the remainder is divided between Vitovska, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, and Merlot. Most vineyards around 800 feet above sea level and sheltered by young oak forests that help tame the cool northerly winds, and trap the warm air of the Adriatic. All vineyards are dry-farmed, fertilized only with cow manure when necessary, and worked by hand. Averaging 20 years, vines are mostly mature, single gyot trained and planted to 5000 plants per hectare. Yields are severely restricted. Green harvest is typically performed in the Spring and then again just before veraison.

Winemaking

Grapes are hand harvested, sorted, de-stemmed, and fermented with native yeasts in temperature controlled stainless steel. Maceration of grapes during fermentation is practiced with white and red varieties alike, no sulfur is added until fermentation is complete. During vinification the wine is transported only with gravity. All Teran is aged in large used oak barrels. This is essential to tame the notoriously high acid of the variety. Used wood is critical so as not to disturb the delicate perfume of each variety. Wines are typically fined and filtered.

Slovenia

Črnko

Črnko

http://www.danchandgranger.com/producer/crnko#winery

 

Silvo Črnko beams with happiness and so do his wines. They are universally forward and fragrant but with an elusive mineral underpinning that demands serious attention. Črnko wines are an absolute joy to drink and as appropriate for the inexperienced and curious, as the serious enthusiast.

 

At a Glance

http://www.crnko.net/
Maribor
Continental, Alpine Influenced
Brittle marl soil
270-350m
Wine-growing hills and snowy mountains
Laški Rizling, Rhein Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Ravenec, Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc, Muscat
6 hectares
Sustainable
Commercial

The People

The Črnko farm is located on the eastern side of Slovenia, north of Maribor and just south of the Austrian border. It is a breath taking environment of endless rolling green hills lined with vineyards that stretch the length of the horizon. Until 1918, this area was known as Lower Styria (formally Austria) and had been for many centuries. Grapes have also been cultivated here for over 2,000 years in addition to famed aromatic hop fields and ethereal pumpkin seed oil; a real treat with the local wines. The rich agricultural diversity of these Slovenian Hills owes itself to fertile soils and the unique convergence of Continental, Alpine and Mediterranean climates. In large part it is the balance between these climates that make the wines of Slovenia so regional and so interesting. The bulk of Črnko’s production is divided between their line of single varietal premium bottlings and the easy drinking house cuvee Jareninčan. Small amounts of sweet wine and a sparkling wine called “Oceanus” that is aged 250 feet under the Adriatic are also produced. Not surprisingly, Silvo Črnko beams with happiness and so do his wines.

Vineyards

The two south/south west facing vineyards the Črnko family farms are planted to a specific form of marl. 16 million of years ago the region was part of the Pannonian Sea and exploding with life. Today it is 2.5 miles thick of sedimentary soil. It looks a lot like slate but is brittle and silty to the touch.
This unique soil is common to the famed vineyards of Brda, on the western side of Slovenia bordering Italy and lends the same mineral complexity to the wines, especially the whites. Jareninski Vrh is the hill the Crnko farm lies at the base of. Behind it, 3.5 hectares total of Yellow Muscat, Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc, Muscat Ottonel, Laski (Italian) Riesling, Riesling and Pinot Gris rise quickly to about 400 meter above sea level. The vineyard is pretty and steep. Even Silvo Črnko, who grows the grapes and makes the wine, gets winded during a stroll. Half a mile away is the equally steep vineyard Slatinek: 2.5 hectares of Yellow Muscat, Mueller-Thurgau, Sauvignon Blanc, Laski Riesling and Gewurztraminer.

Winemaking

Only estate fruit is used. Hand harvested by family and friends into small plastic bins that are then transported to the winery by tractor. Harvest is split between the best selection of grapes used to make the single variety wines. The remainder of the juice finds its way into Jarenincan. For the Jareninčan most grapes are co-fermented but others (usually the aromatic) are blended in after fermentation. Single variety wines rest briefly on the lees.

The Farm

Growing grapes and making wine is the main business of Silvo Črnko and his wife, Alenka but not the extent of what they do. Both are university trained agronomists who would doubtfully be content farming only one thing. So in addition to the wines, they also raise a variety of livestock for milk, meat, cheese and eggs, preserve a wide range of fruits and vegetables from their own garden and orchards and bake bread daily, from wheat they grew and milled themselves.

Hungary

Losonci

Losonci

http://www.danchandgranger.com/producer/losonci#winery

At a Glance

2009
http://www.losonci.hu/
Mátra
Continental
Andesite, red clay, and chalk
170-200m
Volcanic hills
Kékfrankos, Magyarfrankos, Pinot Noir, Furmint, Turan, Rhine Riesling, Szürkebarát, Hárslevelű, and Chasselas
8 hectares
Organic
Natural

The People

Bálint Losonci entered the wine business as a writer for the wine magazine Borbarát under László Alkonyi. He was exposed to a whole world of Hungarian wines in the late 1990s that was just waking up after Communism. He then apprenticed under Gábor Karner (whom he found via Borbarát), and joined a few other liked minded small producers who believed in the future potential of the Mátra appellation.
Hungary’s Mátra appellation is quietly the second largest in the country (7500+ hectares), but has been dominated by just a few larger industrial players – perhaps a bit of a Soviet cooperative era hangover. The typical vine density is designed for large tractors and there’s a disturbing amount of Müller-Thurgau and Chasselas geared more for table grape yields than wine. He and others greatly increased vine density, planted native grapes, moved to organic farming, and drastically reduced yields. In the cellar, the main tenants are native fermentation and no other additions other than SO2. Given the wines typical of the area, all of this was somewhat unheard of on a commercial level. He continues to experiment and push himself, but what remains constant is his unwavering community oriented mindset and desire to put Mátra back on the wine map. His vineyards and wines reflect this drive, ambition and generosity.

Vineyards

Roughly 8 hectares are spread across the villages of Gyöngyöspata, Gyöngyöstarján and Nagyréde (single vineyards include Gereg, Tamás-hegy, Sárosberek, Peres, Virág-domb, Oroszi, and Lógi). The first thing Bálint did was plant in between the existing rows (pre Communist era vine density), retrained the vines to drop yield to maximum 1 kilo per plant, and transitioned to organic farming. Focusing on Kékfrankos, Magyarfrankos (cross between Muscat Bouschet and Kékfrankos), Pinot Noir, Furmint, Turan, Rhine Riesling, Szürkebarát, and Hárslevelű, he also grows a little Chasselas for good measure. Our current wines are mostly from the Gerag vineyard where he often doesn’t spray anything of any kind all year. It’s the right exposure and is protected from harsh weather on all sides with the tallest mountains in the country. The Gerag is also defined by andesite (volcanic), tons of iron/red clay, and chalk about 40cm beneath. Many underground springs give life to the hillside as well. He’s also planting pre phylloxera grapes like Purcsin and Tihany Kék among other international grapes geared towards tackling impending climate change.

Winemaking

Most wines are open vat fermented with native yeast before being pressed off into oak for aging. Most of the whites see extended skin contact whereas the reds are often less so. The PH is naturally very low (total acids usually between 7-8 g/l post malolactic), so acidity is not an issue and the wines are very stable. The only addition is SO2 at bottling and wines are bottled unfiltered.

Hungary

Bodrog Borműhely

Bodrog Borműhely

http://www.danchandgranger.com/producer/bodrog_bormuhely#winery

 

By maintaining tiny parcels of vineyards in historically great sites, Hajdú János & Farkas Krisztián are making pure, modern, yet classically inspired dry wines.

 

The Appellation

In North-Eastern Hungary, Tokaji - Hegyalja warranted the world’s first appellation system over 100 years before Bordeaux. For nearly 400 years, it has served as a diplomatic tool to court foreign powers, inspired countless artists and philosophers, and has become so ingrained in Hungarian identity that it’s part of their National Anthem. One of the key features of life and history in the region is the Bodrog River. It runs from the village of Sárospatak in the north east all to the way down to Tokaj Hill in the south. The name “Bodrog” dates back to the first Magyar conquest and the very first kings of Hungary. It’s also responsible for the moisture that along with a unique confluence of grapes and terroir, makes Botrytis so prevalent.

Today, only 20+ years after the reestablishment of private and family wineries Hungary is in the midst of a wine renaissance. Bodrog Borműhely, or “Bodrog wine(bor) workshop” started by János Hajduz and Krisztián Farkas is emblematic of this new era. By maintaining tiny parcels of vineyards in historically great sites, they are making pure, modern, yet classically inspired dry wines. Knowing when to pick and where, avoiding Botrytis, and then fermenting with native yeasts in local oak barrel are the means to this end.

Vineyards

On the west side of Tokaj Hill near the village of Tarcal lies the historic Deák Vineyard, classified as a 1st Class site in 1798. The soil is thick with loess, rich in minerals, and with a solid bedrock of dacite. Most of the Furmint is located on a steep slope about 100-150 m above sea level.

The Dereszla vineyard has a Southwest exposure about 120-150 meters above the village of Bodrogkeresztúr and the Bodrog River. Its climate is temperate and very breezy. The soil is loess (3-5 meters) that the rhyolitic volcanic debris and richly grained perlite. The base rock is andesite. János and Krisztián work a small 0.65 hectare area planted in the early 1980’s with about 70% planted to Hárslevelű and the rest Furmint.

The Lapis Vineyard is near the town of Bodrogkeresztúr and looks down onto the Bodrog River and its floodplains. Despite being near to all of this moisture, Botrytis only hits certain parts of the vineyard. The 0.7 ha that they farm is 155m up and in a breezy spot making dry wines possible. The soil is a mixture of rhyolite with strong brown clay soil and tufa. If there were to be reclassification of the Tokaji vineyards, this would be a strong contender for a Great Growth.

The Halas (Fish) vineyard is just southwest of Lapis near the town of Bodrogkisfalud. The vineyard is covered with a think layer of Nyirok - a rich reddish clay unique to Tokaji over a base of hardened rhyolite (volcanic) rock. The microclimate is relatively warm compared to other parts of the appellation, but the vines are 40-50 years old and well adjusted. In addition to Furmint, there is also a small plot of Pinot Noir, which will soon be ready to make wine for the very first time.

Winemaking

All wines are hand picked and sorted in the vineyard and then again in the winery. After settling for at least a day after crush, wines are barreled down into local Szerednye Oak Barrels (3-4 years old) and left to ferment on their own yeasts. After regular batonnage, full malolactic fermentation and 9 months of aging sur lie, all wines are gently filtered and sulfured before bottling.

Hungary

Heimann & Fiai

Heimann & Fiai

http://www.danchandgranger.com/producer/heimann#winery

"Our goal is to transform Szekszárd into an internationally recognized, high-end wine region capable of appealing to the most sophisticated and curious wine lovers.” — The Heimann family

 

At a Glance

http://www.heimann.hu/
Szekszárd
Cool continental with dry warm summers
Mainly loess with Terra Rossa
150-260m
Rolling hills and valleys
Kadarka, Kékfrankos
Organic
Natural

The People

The 2018 vintage marks the beginning of a dual Heimann family approach. Heimann and Fiai (Heimann and Sons) and Heimann Családi (Heimann Family). The Heimann family has been pioneering in bringing many clones of Kadarka (and some Kékfrankos as well) back to life from the verge of extinction during Communism. This is a grape that once covered over 60,000 hectares in Hungary was less than 400 hectares in the early 1990s. Zoltán Jr. has been particularly drawn to this part of the business. In addition to spearheading Kadarka research and planting, Zoltán Sr. and his wife Ágnes had also built an impressive business centered around Bordeaux varieties, some Viognier, and even a little Sagrantino. These have been iconic wines for the estate and have shown fidelity to the Szeskzárd appellation for over 20 years.
With 20+ years of lessons learned about which clones work best and where they should be planted, it’s finally become time for Heimann & Fiai to focus exclusively on Kadarka and Kékfrankos. Along with conversion to organic farming, the winemaking also reflects a different approach geared towards freshness and aromatics. Multiple passes for picking, using more whole clusters, open vat fermentation, less extraction, and moving the wine manually in lieu of pumps. All fermentation are spontaneous, zero fining, coarsely filtered if at all, and a minimal use of SO2 at bottling. They are also aging wines in clay in addition to Hungarian oak and stainless steel.

The Appellation

The Szekszárd appellation was originally established by the Celts, flourished under the Romans (Emperor Probus), continued under the Cistercian Abbeys, and even survived Turkish occupation due to the high tax revenue the wines generated. Once the Turks were pushed out, modern day Serbians were being pushed north by said Turks and brought the Kadarka grape with them. Up until this point, the appellation was almost entirely white wine. Since then, Kékfrankos and a variety of Bordeaux varieties (Cab Franc and Merlot mostly) have taken firmly to the region. These grapes in particular also survived under Communism while many of the native white and red grapes did not fair so well, namely Kadarka.
Backing up a bit, after the Turks were pushed out, the very wine savvy Swabians from southwestern Germany were also incentivized to resettle the area. Where the Serbians brought a key red grape, the Swabians brought superior winemaking skills. Their influence is still felt today. Case in point, the Heimann family is intensely proud of their Swabian roots and have been making wine here since 1758.
This sense of regional pride is alive and well with the current Heimann family as well. Zoltán Sr. is the acting Chairman of the Szekszárd Appellation. He is also a founding member of Pannon Winemakers’ Guild and Vindependent. Ági, his wife, is the founding member of Pannónia Női Borrend, which puts on a wonderful series of cultural events. Zoltán Jr. is a member of Junibor Association of Young Winemakers. He has also studied viticulture and enology at Geisenheim, Montpellier, Bordeaux and Udine in addition to internships in Australia (Mac Forbes) and visiting top estates in Italy like Foradori. Zoltán Sr., Jr., and Ági are all active members of the Szekszárd Winemakers’ Guild which gathers the best winemakers in Szekszárd to develop the region as a whole. In 2016 Heimann was chosen as the “Winery of the Year” in the Gault-Millau Guide.

Vineyards

Heimann farms roughly 23 hectares spread over the Baranya, Porkoláb and Iván Valleys in addition to some rare hillside plantings on Batti. The soil is overwhelmingly Loess in Szekszárd, but you can also find Terra Rosa (iron rich soil also dominant in Istria, Croatia) if you get deep enough. If you’re approaching the appellation from the Great Plain to the East, you first hit the River Danube and then the first hills are Szekszárd. It’s a fairly dramatic change in the landscape and an obvious place for multiple exposures. Currently most plantings are Kékfrankos with smaller amounts of Merlot, Cab Franc, Tannat, Sagrantino (from Umbria!) and now more than ever re-plantings of Kadarka are underway.

Winemaking

All fermentation are spontaneous, zero fining, coarsely filtered if at all, and a minimal use of SO2 at bottling. They are also aging wines in clay in addition to Hungarian oak and stainless steel..

Hungary

Fekete

Fekete

http://www.danchandgranger.com/producer/fekete#winery

“The Grand Old Man” of Somló, Fekete Béla, is Somló embodied. To know his wines is to know Somló.

 

The Appellation

Somló (Shoam-low) is Hungary’s smallest appellation and once an underwater volcano. Now dormant, its slopes of ancient sea sediment, hardened lava, and basalt are home to some of Hungary’s steepest, most densely planted vineyards. Driving up to Somló from Lake Balaton, it’s like seeing an island rise up from the ocean’s horizon — nothing else around survived the retreating ocean. The oldest writings mentioning the wine of Somló date back to 1093 and viticulture all the way back to the Romans. Hungarian Kings bought vineyards here, Maria Theresa and Queen Victoria both praised the wines, and insurgent Hungarian troops fighting against the Hapsburgs would solute the vineyards as they marched past at the end of the 17th century. In 1752, local laws stated that if you were found adding water to wine, expect 25 lashings as the minimum punishment. If you were found to be labeling wine as Somló but using other fruit sources, you would be banned from making wine permanently and might even have your property confiscated. Perhaps most well known is that belief that drinking the wines of Somló before copulation would guarantee a boy. “Nászéjszakák bora” or “wedding wine” was soon the favored wine of the Hapsburgs to keep the Monarchy in full swing.

The People

Today, “The Grand Old Man” of Somló is Fekete Béla. 32 years ago, while on a trip to buy grapes for his garage production, a farmer offered to sell his vineyards on the southern slopes. Fekete accepted and approaching 90 years old, still tends his 4 hectares of beloved Fehérvári-cru. Everything is done by hand, and much like the man, his wines are honest, engaging and highly expressive of the region. Focusing on Hárslevelű, Furmint, Olaszrizling, and Juhfark, Uncle Béla, and his wife, Aunt Bori decided that 2013 would be their final vintage.

Vineyards

Béla is engaged in a private dialog with his land that’s only possible after decades of working it. His vineyards are not as postcard perfect as his neighbors, nor are they planted to the newest clones. In the summer when others rush to drop fruit in pursuit of the expression and concentration that makes Béla’s wines so enigmatic, he simply smiles at his vines which instead hang heavy. Having listened to the old farmers and the council of others when we started, he’s vines have achieved balance. With 4 hectares dry farmed on the southern slopes, the basalt soil retains heat and a mixture of alluvial and loam soils give just enough nutrients. The vineyards have a secret garden appeal that’s far from a monoculture. Little to no synthetic treatments are used.

Winemaking

The wines of Somló tend to be high in alcohol, very acidic, and chock-full of smoky volcanic minerality. All wines are meant to be aged and can be fairly aggressive when young. Much like Tokaj, this is an all white appellation so winemaking is geared for structure and strength. After careful hand harvesting and sorting, spontaneous fermentation takes place in old 1200 liter Hungarian oak casks. Without bâtonnage and never completely sealed off from oxygen, all wines are aged for 2 years before bottling.

Austria

Andert

Andert

http://www.danchandgranger.com/producer/andert#winery

At a Glance

http://www.andert-wein.at/
Neusiedlersee
Continental (hot summers & cold winters)
loess and loam
120m
Flat cropland and trees
Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, Neuburger, Zweigelt, Cabernet Sauvigon, Sankt Laurent
4.5 hectares
BioDynamic (Certified)
Animal manure

The People

Just a few hundred meters from the Hungarian border and just East of lake Neusiedl, lies the small town of Pamhagen. Brothers Erich and Michael Andert have been Demeter Certified since 2003 and their whole property is buzzing with life. Nearly everything on the property seems edible. Walking around the vineyard you can find large glass jars of fermenting vegetables or open a random door by a shed and find meats smoking and curing. Herbs of all sorts (Michael is a certified herb educator) hang from the rafters and there are countless tinctures littering the cellar floor. Erich and Michael are also consummate hosts. The dinner salad from exclusively from their cover crops, local pumpkin seed oil for dressing, and every following dish comes with simple preparation done to perfection.
There’s an attention to detail, not overworked or made too complicated, and always with the best ingredients. The joy of sharing a table with them is the same as sharing a bottle of wine. Upon our last visit they were gearing up to host children from the Vienna International School to promote Demeter certified products, harvest and cook with the children, and ultimately raise awareness and money for charity. This mindset speaks to everything that they do. As Michael told us, “We go inside the life.”

Vineyards

Right out in the middle of their 4.5 hectares is giant chicken, goose, and duck coop. Just a few meters from there, there’s an area devoted to sheep. All are used for bolster the biodiversity of the property, supply fertilizer, and of course add to future dinner menus. Horns from years of biodynamic preparations are fixed along the fence line and hides of wild boars hang nearby to deter the deer. Depending on the year, the most potent spraying they have to do is horsetail tea.

Winemaking

All wines are hand harvested, sometimes destemmed, open vat fermentation, always native yeast, no temperature control, little to no racking, and everything is aged in oak barrels. Wines are bottled without filtration and total SO2 is about 15-20ppm. No other additions are made. Inside their traditional underground stone cellar, there is no electricity. The wines are free to evolve and develop without interference.

Lebanon

Couvent Rouge

Couvent Rouge

While the sun blisters down on the small village of Deir el Ahmar, Lebanon and bakes the intense terra rosa, a phalanx of half-meter-tall, browned plants poked up from the earth. This is the local, dry-farmed, and regionally infamous hashish. It’s what the local farmers have made a living off of for the last 70 to 80 years. But Walid Habchy, who’s lived here his entire life in this village, wanted to change that. While it’s illegal to grow hashish in Lebanon, the law is only intermittently enforced by the government. Raids, which come every few years, render growers penniless for that season. “No one is proud to grow hash,” Habchy confirms. He, along with other villagers like Charbel Fakhri, want to see drug-free, legal, and prosperous opportunities for future Lebanese generations. Their plan? The duo and their farming neighbors are working to transform the drug fields back into vineyards.

Wine’s importance in the Bekaa Valley is unmistakable. About 10 miles to the southeast of Deir el Ahmar, the pristine, 2,000-year-old Roman Temple of Bacchus sits amidst Baalbek—the Bronze Age ruins and city’s namesake. Galvanized by this history, Habchy and Fakhri helped dream up the Cooperative Coteaux d’Heliopolis, or Heliopolis Cooperative. It began as a union of growers who banded together to support the transformation. The name, “City of the Sun,” referenced Baalbek’s Hellenic identity. They planted the first five-hectare of vines in 2001. Five farmers began tending vines, and today, the cooperative includes 278 growers—each of whom cultivate around one hectare of vines.

Eleven years after the co-op’s inauguration, Habchy, Fakhri, and new partners like Eddie Chami opened Couvent Rouge winery. It’s the French translation of Deir el Ahmar, which also means Red Convent. This was a natural progression in creating larger pipelines to satisfy new vineyard plantings. Couvent Rouge not only purchases grapes from the cooperative for their wines, but since 2013, they’ve made a wine on the cooperative’s behalf called Coteaux Les Cèdres. Today, Deir el Ahmar is all but fully transitioned, but the cooperative has more work to do in the entire region where hashish still grows.

https://www.borderless.wine/couvent-rouge