Jochen & Lorenz Dahlem
Gundersheim, Rheinhessen, Germany
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Lorenz and Jochen Dahlem are farmers in the 5th generation. Their family farm in Rheinhessen has a rich history that stretches back at least 1250 years to when monks tended the land, growing produce and making wine for the nearby monastery. Today the farm covers approximately 230 hectares and is used mostly for agricultural crops such as sugar beets, peas, wheat and barley. Around 20 hectares produce grapes which, until recently, were sold exclusively to a co-op.
Keen to fuse a long tradition of viticulture with a new approach to farming, the two brothers are introducing themselves to the natural wine world with clean, honest wines grown on 2 hectares. As they transition to a different approach, 3 hectares supply a local winery focussed on PIWI (fungus resistant) varieties, while 15 remain with a co-op. Jochen studied viticulture and oenology while Lorenz specialised in agriculture and, although they have been experimenting with wine since 2012, 2020 was their first vintage.
Lorenz and Jochen are determined to find a progressive system of agriculture to tackle the transformations ahead as, with each year, yields fluctuate in response to climate change. As part of this they are experimenting with a no-till approach, almost unheard of in large-scale farming in Europe. By leaving the earth unturned, root systems remain intact which stabilise the soil and reduce the risk of erosion, especially during heavy rainfall. The greenery above the surface aids temperature resistance, while the increase of humus and biodiversity help capture CO2.