At the heart of the Mosel valley, in an ancient cultural landscape where the Romans made wine, my wife Rita and I are tending our vineyards according to the principles of biodynamic viticulture. In 1978 we decided to break with the tradition of the old familiy-run wine estate and switched to organic farming methods. "Biodynamic" means more than renouncement of artificial fertilizers, herbicides and other poisons, it is a mindset of responsibility, local action but global thinking. Today we cultivate mainly Riesling, to growing international acclaim. Most vines are on steep slatey slopes and we are astonished at the steady increase of the sophistication of the resulting wines. Evidently it takes a whole vintner's lifetime to shift exhausted and depleted soils to a new level of vitality.
Even our organically tended vines are not immune to pests and diseases. Following EU regulations and the rigurous rules of the German organic vintner association Ecovin, we are only allowed to use herbs, minerals and a limited amount of hydrous copper solution to stave off fungal diseases. Every winery has an annual inspection by an independent board of control to achieve the Ecovin certificate. The work of this independent body is in itself monitored by a governmental institution. The Ecovin label documents this transparency.
The goal of our efforts are expressive and individual wines with fruitiness, structure and elegance. We receive many notable comments of our customers on the salubriousness of our wines. It is not clear to us whether this stems from our dedicated manual labour, the sparing use of technology and machinery in the vineyards and wine cellar, from our location-sensitive soil treatment, the abstinence from forceful fertilizers, or the balancing potency of our biodynamic supplements.
Technical progress found its way into wine cellars over the last decades. The use of new enological processes brings the danger that wines will lose their unique, individual taste and become globalised, standardised, interchangeable and boring.
The character of a good wine is shaped by grape variety and vintage, sun and moon, wind and weather, soil type and inclination to the sun and the devoted hand of the vintner: in modern terms called "terroir". To keep this originality we forgo all unneccessary operations that would stress or alienate the wine. Through careful manual picking, gentle pressing and slow fermentation, preferably with natural yeast in small barrels, we accomplish the production of our wines so that their heritage, the vineyard so to say, can be perceived. If we succeed, this makes them singular and unmistakeable.
Encouraged by sommeliers and oenophiles we have started to explore the world of "vins naturell". In 2010 we bottled our first Riesling without intervention: nothing added, nothing taken away - no additives and no filtration. Without sulphur as a stabiliser this Riesling develops very differently in smell and taste and reveals hitherto hidden depths and finesse.
We keep these wines on the lees for a very long time and wait until all biological processes have come to an end. Then we fill the wines by hand into champagne bottles and seal them with a crown cap to preserve the natural carbon dioxide. As a result these wines are protected from premature oxidation and can be kept for years.
Rudolf Trossen, "Att Veta Vad Som Är Gott", Fri Jord 2/2007, essay in Swedish translation: TEXT (pdf)