Viticulture in the city: Stuttgart winemakers mature to eco – Stuttgart

Weeds can germinate in a Stuttgart vineyard Photo: Weingut Stadt Stuttgart

The first organic wine from the municipal vineyard was bottled. Formerly, organic growers were considered freaks, but now the best vineyards are starting the move. More and more people are switching to organic products.

The switch to organic farming caught the attention of Stuttgart’s people immediately: Timo Saier received more angry emails, more yellow cards and more complaint calls than ever before. “A resident asked why we are not actually working organically,” says the vineyard manager of the city of Stuttgart. But since he has completely dispensed with chemical aids, he has to spray more often. In addition, compost is now used as fertilizer and weeds can sprout. “It’s hard sometimes,” she says, “but you can see the results.” But not all colleagues are completely convinced of this path.

White and rosé wines will soon appear on the market

The first white and rosé wines from the 2021 vintage with the Bioland seal will soon be on the market from the municipal vineyard. Timo Saier has been working on the conversion operations from the very beginning in Stuttgart. “Personally, I don’t want to spray conventional stuff,” says the 42-year-old. Since then, vineyards have been planted in such a way that the weeds can be removed mechanically. The company has been operating completely organically since August 2020. “Everything was fine,” he says. The biggest problem today is Peronospera grapevine disease, which is especially common when there is heavy rainfall. Since only sulfur, baking powder and copper are allowed to protect crops, spraying should be done quickly and more frequently, depending on the weather. Since then, Timo Saier believes that the city’s vineyards have shown a “homogeneous picture”.

While the visionary wine merchant Bernd Kreis was alone for a long time – he has been organically growing his 20 ares on the Degerlocher Scharrenberg since the 1990s – it seems that a mass movement is now forming. For example, Hans-Peter Wöhrwag has been an ecological winemaker under a secret for about five years. “Now we’re doing it officially,” says his daughter Johanna, who works in the vineyard. Because many customers and specialist retailers wanted a label. During the training, the young winemaker gained experience on several organic farms and encouraged her father to take this step. The technology is much simpler than it used to be. And he believes that the quality pays off, because the grapevine is the winemaker’s greatest asset. In the Prädikat Winery Association, to which the Wöhrwags belong, all Württembergers will soon become Ökos.

In a few years, even more organic wines will be produced

Johanna Wöhrwag is convinced that most companies will delve into the premium segment. In Germany, the area under vines has doubled to ten percent in the last decade. Stuttgart should be slightly above that percentage. “It’s de rigueur now,” says Fabian Rajtschan. For years, the 36-year-old has convinced himself without herbicides and most plant protection products. He still only used phosphoric acid instead of copper as heavy metal accumulated in the soil. Many of his colleagues struggle with this problem. Since last year, however, he has been inclined to the organic argument that copper and sulfur occur naturally while the acid accumulates in the plant. “If I’m going to do it right,” she says, “and it works.”

Conversion is also an ongoing topic at the Untertürkheim Schwarz winery. The recipe at the moment is a mix of conventional and ecological, explains junior manager Ludwig Schwarz. The family would need to invest in a winch and machinery so that steep slopes can spray when it rains. “The effort is significant and we have to work economically,” he says. Plus, sometimes she wonders if it’s really greener when you have to drive three times as often as no chemicals are used. “It’s hard to find the perfect solution, there’s always a flaw,” says Ludwig Schwarz.

Organic line withdrawn due to low demand

That is why Weinmanufaktur Untertürkheim has opted for a different label: “fair & green” aims to continuously improve sustainability. Members already do without herbicides and insecticides. Managing Director Saskia Wörthwein does not rule out a switch to organic farming, “but it’s a long way in a cooperative.” Profitability and sustainability must be in balance.

Collegium Württemberg focuses on “actions good for nature”, says the chairman of the supervisory board Rainer Bubeck. He gives examples of sowing flower mixtures and mowing less. “It’s very clear: there is pressure to change,” he says. However, organic farming has many weaknesses. “It has to come from the members,” says Hans-Jörg Schiller. However, the managing director of the Felsengartenkellerei, to which Weinfactum Cannstatt belongs, had a bad experience with the topic: the organic line he introduced to the cooperative was phased out due to low demand.

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