Meet Anders & Anne: two Copenhageners who met at Tivoli Gardens serving beer. Anders became a chef, and before he knew it, a sommelier at Noma, going on to open Relae and Manfreds. Now, they've settled together in the Ardèche, making natural wine & farming four hectares; commencing their journey into permaculture.
"Making wine is like having a house; you decorate it differently and live in it differently, as we’re all different people."
People: Anders Frederik Steen & Anne Bruun Blauert
Place: Ardèche, France
Varieties: Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Gewürtztraminer, Sauvignon Blanc, Carignan, Grenache Noir, Syrah, Chardonnay, Grenache Blanc, and the occasional apple...
Hectares: 4, plus organic négoce grapes from Ardèche and Alsace
Farming: Organic with elements of biodynamics and permaculture
Did You Know? In their own vineyards, they are experimenting; intent on remaining as open-minded as possible. The only strict protocol they’ve followed thus far has been to prune very short, hoping to achieve higher quality in their grapes.
“Salt water from the ocean and various herbal extractions cannot kill any disease, but it can work as a preventative treatment. The pH level moves in favour of the vine, but not for the fungi. That helps to make a natural balance. When you add sulphur or copper, you not only kill the fungi that’s causing the sickness, but you also kill the bacteria that works against the sickness. So, the problem is the natural immune system of the vine is weakened, and then you need to treat it to combat sickness. Then, the vines are naked. It’s like as a person — if you take pills to not get sick in the winter, and then when you feel good you go out naked, you get sick again, because you didn’t put on clothes. It’s the same with the vines. If you treat them, and remove all the grasses and herbs around them, then they’re alone and naked. And once a problem arises, they cannot resist. So, by working the soils less and leaving the vines wilder, we find them to be stronger.”
So far, so good. Aside from a small amount of powdery mildew, they’ve had no disease issues. But it’s hard to quantify which part of their approach is helping, as Anne explains,
“We can only say that maybe our methods are having an impact. Our vines are very isolated from other winemakers, so perhaps that helps—there are so many factors that influence the vines. It’s so hard to say, ah yes – this is why – as all the factors have an impact on each other.”
"Often, if there are diseases, people make more and more treatments. But how can we avoid being in that situation? If you’re in a position where you have to treat continually and more often, then somewhere in the process, you’ve done something wrong. Again, it’s like with people: if you start to take too many pills, then you have to take more and more pills to get away from the pain. It’s like that with nature, too – if a vine gets used to treatments, it needs them again and again to avoid...
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Ready to learn how this couple fell in love at Tivoli, how Anders fell down the natural wine rabbit hole while working at Noma, and how this led them to start their own domaine?