From vine to wine – with a mixed farming approach and passion for the community
“It is important to use as few crop protection products as possible and as many as necessary.” That has stuck with me ever since I met Tanja Müller-Heinrich, from the small town of Gemmrigheim in Southern Germany. She is a wine grower, an engaged community member and a mom of two little boys.
I had the chance to meet Tanja a while ago. Together with a colleague I visited Tanja at her farm. While walking through the vineyards she described her business, her farming approach and her life. I was simply amazed by her commitment to her profession and for her community.
She explained that “crop protection is important for my business. Even the ecological viniculture uses some kind of crop protection, for example copper and brimstone. As ‘conventional’ farmers we try the same by using green strips between the vines. This helps us to collect nitrogen for the plants.” It is this mixed approach, of combining ecological and conventional farming practices, that makes Tanja successful.
For Tanja, she defines success as a good grape yield, in terms of quality and quantity. “It is important to fight diseases such as powdery mildew or even acetic acid rot to avoid rotten grapes, because moldy grapes always affect the taste and the quality of the wine. It affects the aroma significantly”, explained Tanja. Good grapes make a good wine. For Tanja, good wine from healthy grapes form the base of her business.
Tanja Müller-Heinrich actively engages in the local wine maker association. She organizes wine tastings and other events; she consults neighboring wine growers about disease pressure and disease management and she helps other farmers to decide which farming practices work best and what are the most sustainable ones. “I like to answer such questions and I always try to give support”, she concluded.
Before we left Tanja’s farm I bought a bottle of her wine, which is produced by the cooperative wine-growers association “Felsengartenkellerei Besigheim”(German version). I chose a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc, a dry white wine with an aromatic flavor of grapes and a little bit of elderflower. It was a very good one, that’s for sure!