Tucked away in the rolling hills of rural southern Styria, it’s easy to feel a little isolated. When Roland Tauss took over the family winery from his parents, he did as they did — farming conventionally and making wines according to the common technological methods.
However, this changed when Roland and Alice, his wife, discovered biodynamics and made new friends with likeminded farmers. This alternative realm of farming changed everything for them, and the Tauss philosophy became centred around life: protecting life, promoting life, enhancing life, with the ultimate goal of capturing this life in a bottle to bring to winelovers around the world.
People: Alice and Roland Tauss
Place: Southern Styria, Austria
Varieties: Welschriesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Roter Traminer, Weissburgunder (Pinot Blanc), Pinot Gris, Blaufränkisch & Merlot
Farming: Biodynamic (Certified with Demeter)
Did You Know? Since converting to biodynamics in 2005, Roland gradually reduced his sulfite levels in winemaking. For the past five years, he hasn't used any at all. He noticed that it became easier for him to work in a hands-off manner, as his fruit quality was improving year on year. He says,
“The reason behind lowering the sulfite additions was because I was outside in the vineyard, and saw the liveliness in the soils, the plants, the grapes… it became much easier to work without sulfites. So, in 2012 and 2013 I began making some wines without sulfites, and added 10mg to others, and for five years now I use nothing at all. We don’t have any issues as the wines are in a good harmony.”
Although he works with the preparations, ultimately Roland’s approach is as hands-off as possible, to allow the vines to find their own balance as naturally as they can. The soils are managed according to a no-till policy, meaning he never ploughs, so his approach is as much about regenerative agriculture as it is about biodynamics. He explains,
“We only cut the grass twice or three times a year, and we don’t open the soil. The soil is alive — that’s the reason that I don’t like to open it, to disturb it, or to destroy it. If you open it, it’s like cutting your skin.”
Even when it comes to cutting the grass, this is as gentle as possible — they only cut every second row, to leave the vegetation to thrive.
“Every plant brings something, and we have around 70 or 80 different plant species growing under and around the vines. Every plant works with the sun for photosynthesis and has microorganisms around the roots. It’s the circle of life.”
He explains that the first few years after converting to biodynamics in 2005 were a bit trickier, whereas now the vines have found their balance:
“Plants need the guidance of human beings — over thousands of years they have changed, and they have lost some of their natural energy, so they need the human. So those first years in particular were harder for them to adapt — it was a big change for them — but over the past five years we’ve had a very good harmony in the vineyards.”
Since converting his six hectares of vineyards to biodynamics, he saw change happen quickly. He says,