How did TikTok become the new vine

Baden-Württemberg Old vines, new wine

An organic winemaker makes wine like in the Middle Ages

From Richard Fuchs

At Beurer, blue and white grape varieties are mixed. (picture alliance / dpa)

When organic winemaker Jochen Beurer began to grow old grape varieties using medieval methods, many in the region thought his project was a big spinning mill. In the meantime, Beurer has convinced many skeptics with its quality wine.

Junior: "Yes, you've tied everything down now, but wouldn't you also bend such urges now, would you? Senior: It's too short to bend around ... [underlay and fade out] Junior: Well, what I think could be done is to loosen the earth around the sticks a little ... "

Stetten in the picturesque Remstal, around 20 kilometers east of Stuttgart. Winemaker Jochen Beurer and his father Siegfried talk shop in their favorite vineyard. A steeply sloping piece of vineyard terraces, a few steps below the landmark of the wine-growing town, the old castle ruins of Y-Burg. The yellow ocher stone cube, also called Schlössle, towers high above the village on the edge of a ridge; Beurer's favorite vineyard today, framed by gray-yellow stone walls, nestles against the slope directly below the ruins.

"That was an area that lay fallow and was actually almost overgrown with blackberries. And then I said to myself that Wengert had to be reactivated somehow."

.. says the 41-year-old organic winemaker Jochen Beurer. And he and his family breathed new life into Wengert, as a vineyard is affectionately known in Swabian: Medieval life.

What is sprouting here are ancestors

"We are in the middle of our museum piece", [….] "The vines are just about to shoot, we can sometimes see three leaves, four leaves already, some of them are a bit further behind in terms of the varieties. The first shoots are there only now out so easily. "

What looks out there are no longer common grape varieties such as Riesling, Chardonnay or Trollinger in Swabia. But what sprouts here are the ancestors. Jochen Beurer has given a new home to a total of 17 grape varieties threatened with extinction in his museum vineyard.

"We sometimes have a couple of Heunisch vines up here. Heunisch is a type of grape that has the original Riesling vines, where genetic material can also be found in Riesling or Chardonnay. We planted R Noiseling, something is still in the nowadays Switzerland planted ...
We have planted cleaning scissors, which are nowhere to be found anywhere

At a leisurely pace, Jochen Beurer and his 72-year-old father trudge through the vines, checking what work is pending. There is a smell of various herbs in the air that grow between tall grass on the floor of the vines.

Reporter: "What do I smell?" // Siegfried Beurer: "They smell thyme, I think some savory, there is a spicy smell in the air around the plants."

And something else is different on the 1400 square meter museum piece than in today's viticulture, where "tidy" vine monocultures are the rule. Jochen Beurer brushes the shoots of three vines side by side with his hand. There are three different grape varieties. Not an accident, but the norm in the Middle Ages, he emphasizes.

"In the past, the mixed sentence was also quite normal, that different varieties were planted."

White and blue grapes are processed together

That means: white and blue grapes are harvested together, processed together and a wine is made from it. A mixed sentence instead of single-variety wines: For centuries, this has been a question of survival for winemakers, explains the organic winemaker.

"When the late frosts came, ... a few froze, the others came through again. One was a little bit more acidic, the other a little bit sweeter and so there was always a certain yield security in the past."

Former winemaker Siegfried Beurer stops in front of a vine of the historic Affenthaler variety, which will produce oversized, blue grapes in autumn. The vine is delimited on three sides by wooden stakes. Nestled between tall grass and herbs, it looks somewhat chaotic, especially when you look into the adjoining valley. There modern vineyard terraces nestle against the slope, on which vines are lined up in long rows on wire ropes.

"Of course you could have planted these old grape varieties in the normal way, like there, but then we said: Yes, actually we would like to show how it actually used to be."

... says the old winemaker, who officially retired in 2007, a traditional Swabian original. After initial skepticism about the amount of work that entails, he is now on fire for the green open-air museum.

Not least because, in addition to old grape varieties, historical cultivation methods are also used in the museum vineyard. The three wooden stakes on each vine play a key role in this.

"So that's now, they say, the old Württemberg three-leg education. I can show you three legs there, so instead of one trunk, as you can see there on this wire system, you have three trunks. And because they were not perpendicular, it was called the thigh. "

Based on the historical model

These legs support the vine as it continues to sprout. It never expands to the right or left, even if it continues to grow. And all of this - based on the historical model, only with tools that also grow in the vineyard, emphasizes Jochen Beurer.

"It is also important here that you work consistently in this way. That also means only tying with Weidla, or with Rääschaub, which is a whistle-grass that ties up the green shoots afterwards. So no new-fangled materials are used, such as plastic tape or wire or something like that , but really only with those natural raw materials that are also processed around the area ".

One seventh of the museum's vineyard is managed by the family business using this traditional vine-training method. The disadvantage: each shoot of the vine has to be tied individually to the legs. And the bigger the vine gets, the more often it has to be repeated and shifted upwards. That takes at least twice the working time as in modern vineyards.

Jochen Beurer: "I have to say quite honestly, I would not just look after these hours now, but you also have to approach the whole thing with a bit of idealism. I would not stop any time here. Siegfried Beurer:" Well, neither do I ... I actually free myself every time I have to come up there and staple there again. "

Back at the winery at the foot of the Stettener Schlössle-Berg, Jochen Beurer stacks wine bottles on the labeling machine. This is also where the "mixed sentence" from the museum vineyard gets its label.

And even if there are supposed to be just 300 bottles of the 2014 museum wine. After the first vintage of museum wine, Jochen Beurer's respect for his ancestors increased again quite a bit, he says.

There must also be a result in the glass

"Well, the guys in the Middle Ages, they didn't have any technology, they didn't have any packets of yeast, they didn't have any enzymes, they didn't get any products from the cellar trader, they were only able to work with what they actually had anyway , that was her grapes, that was a container.…. […] That you can bring wine there without any great technology is actually the fascinating thing. "

"If you smell pure, then you have ripe fruits, yellow fruits, but the exciting thing is always that there is always a bit of freshness, such a lime aroma."

Fascinating, for the organic winemaker with quality wines, in addition to the enthusiasm for the recultivation of old grape varieties and cultivation techniques, that must also be the result in the glass.

"With every moment you smell it again, you discover new aromas".

Recultivation of old grape varieties is ultimately not just a question of tradition for Jochen Beurer, but also a question of taste.

"I think we should achieve diversity again because it also gives a variety of flavors and because it also maintains a certain degree of preservation. ... If you only worked with one variety, with one clone, then we just get - I would claim - more boring things. (So it's off to the assembly line). "