August 11, 2020 by Alyssa Taylor
Weingut Hirsch is a Biodynamic estate in Kammern, a town in the Kamptal region of Austria. The estate’s roots in Kammern date to the 16th century when their house was built (the Hirsch family assumed ownership of this farmstead in 1878). It is now owned and operated by fifth generation, Johannes Hirsch. The family motto has always been, “If you’re certain of the path you’ve chosen, you can’t allow yourself to be irritated by the gossip or the fearfulness of others.” This explains the development of the Hirsch Estate, from a farm into one of the leading wine estates in the Kamptal and establishment of Respekt in 2006. Respekt is a new biodynamic certification started as an alternative to Demeter and Johannes father was one of the founding members. Time is a factor that deserves special attention. We refuse to go ‘with the times’ – in order to give our wines all the time that they need. We were the first to adopt the practice of bottling premium-quality single vineyard wines with screw cap closures. Since then we’ve been considered pioneers and ‘modernists’.
That being said, as far as our wine production philosophy is concerned, we are actually quite conservative. Despite the state-of-the-art technology, we put our money on the quality-supportive practices with which great wines have been made for centuries – grapes harvested by hand in small containers, gentle cellar work such as whole-berry pressing, spontaneous fermentation and extended lees-contact, followed by a late bottling. So our single vineyard wines are always bottled in July of the year following the vintage; they go on sale well rested in September. For decades now, Josef and Johannes Hirsch have operated the estate according to a personal creed: To work together with nature, and not against.
We have been using compost as a natural fertiliser since 1978. This compost comes from right in our own neighbourhood, from long-time friend and comrade Robert Paget. Paget’s goats and buffaloes not only provide the cheese factory with outstanding milk, but also ‘produce’ splendid fertiliser for the Hirsch vineyards. All of our vineyards today are cultivated biodynamically, according the guidelines of respekt – BIODYN.
Greater vine density in planting, meticulous management of the foliage canopy and stringent crop reduction are essential aspects of conscientious vineyard care. In 2013 we made our transition to the gentle pruning methods practised by Simonit & Sirch.“I feel a deep love for this region and its soils. I couldn’t make wine anywhere else in the world, because my wines are defined by their sense of origin, and draw their character from the soil. These are wines for sophisticated connoisseurs, for patient devotees who will give a wine the time it needs to blossom.“ – Johannes Hirsch