More than just a word.
The principles which guide our conduct in our personal lives are also our lodestar in the wine estate.
By Count Michael Goëss-Enzenberg
Today everybody is talking about it! However, according to our understanding sustainability must become a way of life in order to contribute towards avoiding the depletion of our world’s resources. More specifically: “Valuable resources should only be used up in proportion to the extent to which they can grow back naturally”. This first became an issue in the late Middle Ages when deforestation threatened as woods were cut down to supply beams for mine galleries. I have a special relationship to mines and forests given that my ancestors were miners.
We are often asked how the concept of sustainability in all areas became so important to us. I grew up in the country in close contact with nature and as a child I became aware of and lived in tune with the natural cycles. We had fields planted with corn, maize and potatoes, 25 cows, pigs, geese, hens and a horse, in-house slaughtering, were engaged in dairy farming, forestry and had our own hunting reserve in the woods which surrounded everything. We were completely self-sufficient as farmers. We can reintroduce these cycles once again today. In our estate in South Tyrol, for example, we could bring back livestock to the land. Farm animals foster life in and on our soils and at the same time provide us with a self-contained nutritional cycle.
My wife comes from a rather different background. She grew up in Vienna and only occasionally savoured life in the countryside. On her very first visit to Manincor she was fascinated by the colours, the vineyards, the light and diversity of the land. Today she grows medicinal herbs in front of the house door. For years she has been supplying the family with healthy and regional food and herbal remedies. In order to boost our health she resorts first of all to teas, infusions, herbs and household remedies. Time and again my wife has proved that homeopathy and natural medicines are wonderfully effective. This proved the source of courage and inspiration to treat and care for our entire agricultural estate in this way. In the meantime the estate has been certified as being cultivated entirely according to biodynamic principles.
Our vineyards and orchards are now no longer cultivated as pure monocultures. Cover crops have returned a diverse plant and flower population, sheep and hens graze or peck their way through the vineyards, the soils are enriched with humus through the use of compost and farmyard manure, the variety of insects is increased and with them the biodiversity.
We also applied the basics of sustainability when building our new cellar and winery in 2004. The entire complex was built beneath the vineyard with no adverse impact on the environment and the cellar is thermally insulated by the vineyard soil. We also exploit geothermal energy to control the temperature in the cellar in winter, and then in summer we return the heat to the ground in order to cool it. Heating is supplemented by a bio-mass plant which burns wood chips obtained from our own woods and from apple tree and vine pruning. Manincor is a heating oil and natural gas free area. In our cellar the use of the cycles of the moon and gravity on three floors replace to a large extent the need to use pumps and even filtration. These gentle and sensitive methods result in wines which retain as much as possible of the naturalness, quality, aroma and flavour present in the grapes when they were picked. By exploiting the powers and cycles of nature in this way we succeed in conserving energy resources in the cellar.
We have developed a face-care cosmetic line ‘ACQUA VINEA NOBILIS’ in collaboration with TREHS, a natural cosmetics producer from the Sarntal valley. The basic ingredient is colourless vine sap, which drips from wounds after pruning. This liquid which draws minerals and the powers of the soil which have built up during the winter contains valuable antioxidants and regenerative ingredients. ‘ACQUA VINEA NOBILIS’ is now available at our wine estate. You can find further information and a comprehensive list of suppliers at www.trehs.com.
Our next project is to exploit wind energy and make ourselves to a large extent self-sufficient in electricity. After all, the Lake of Kaltern is paradise on earth for wind surfers.
We are delighted to see how our children already take for granted knowledge and expertise which we had to painstakingly acquire: treating sensitive resources with care and protecting natural cycles. As a result of the many small measures we have taken we feel completely satisfied and at ease, as do many people who are associated with us. This encourages us to continue along our chosen path with enthusiasm.