When we came to Hungary and established our organic vineyard everyone looked at us as if we were from another planet. Now we've been actively pursuing biodynamics for a long time. In 2011 we applied for Demeter Certification and have been completely biodynamic ever since.
As implied in the name of the Greek fertility goddess Demeter, the main aim of biodynamics is to revive the soil. This is what drives us on, day after day. Everyone knows that the world's supplies of oil, natural gas and clean water will run out one day, but only a few of us know that we are losing the humus from under our feet. The consequences of this are far-reaching, for humus cannot be replaced with anything else. Without it we will simply run out of food. It is broken down by so-called modern agricultural methods so fast that it cannot replace itself with any speed. Even a natural forest takes 100 years to produce 1 cm.
Creating humus is also important if we are to reverse climate change, and it can do much more:
Enrichment of the soil improves the climate, since the CO2 is removed from the air and stored in humus
The availability of main and trace nutrients increases with humus
Water storage is improved
Soil erosion is reduced
The quality of food is improved
Drinking water is further protected.
We have little time left to save the planet we love by enriching our land and building up humus.
When we arrived in Hungary in 1998 everyone looked at us as if we came from Mars. In our new home in Pécsdevecser many young people had already moved to Budapest or abroad, some to Germany. They didn't understand why we came here. The old winemakers shook their heads in disbelief when they saw the fresh green leaves in our vineyard. Compared with their lands – where not even a blade of grass was visible in those days and the leaves had turned dark green from the use of fertilizers – ours looked like a jungle.
We began with organic and our ultimate goal was biodynamic. However, back then we had no internet and it was hard to get information. No-one had heard of organic, let alone biodynamic. It was only after long correspondence with German institutions that we discovered how to get organic certification in Hungary and this was finally granted in 2003. We sought contact with those pursuing biodynamics, but in vain. The first glimmer of hope came from our friend Péter Bakonyi, whose first question was 'Oh, you're into organic, but why not biodynamic?' He was the one who brought to our attention the lecture by Andrew Lorant, an adviser on biodynamics worldwide. This was organized in Villány by Franz Weninger in 2007.We still remember all the faces as there was a disappointingly low turnout and we are still in contact with them all as friends. Kati and Eszter Kiss had already been biodynamic for decades and producing their preparations together with like-minded people. So theory became practice and we have been participating in meetings on biodynamics ever since.
To put it simply, to change from organic to biodynamic we have to use biodynamic preparations, fewer products that control pests or diseases and fewer additives in the cellar. As we also produce so-called 'natural wines' we use only sulfur and that in very small quantities. Of course, biodynamics involves a holistic approach and attitude. The biodynamic preparations include the earth, sun and water and, in addition, the powers of the moon and the planets. It also involves quantum physics, but science has not yet been able to explain HOW and WHY biodynamics functions: we can only prove THAT it works.
We have always been convinced that biodynamics is the best method of wine production, but as rational people - Ralf studied Beverage Technology and Susann studied Law- it was also important for us to see the differences in practice. It really gave us extra impetus when we started using the biodynamic compost preparations in our horse manure. Unlike in Germany we never had compost worms in our compost in Hungary. A couple of weeks after we added the preparations the worms suddenly appeared! When the soil of our vineyard was recently tested it was found that it is full of life and loose to a considerable depth. (We will report more about that later).
This is also reflected in the vitality of our wines. Wine is a spiritual drink, especially when it literally embodies so many forces of nature. We, too, are an important part of this process through the work of our hands and our expertise.
And we are convinced that biodynamics brings another dimension to wine, an emotional dimension, as our customers will gladly confirm. We put our hearts and souls into what we do!
'The only constant in the universe is change'
There are just two of us in the vineyard, which leaves little time for marketing. However, we developed a strong desire to reflect the real identity of our wines in our labels. Our inspiration was a galloping horse in a crescent moon with stars in the background and our label had to be something like that. Our friend Emese Iványi agreed to help with our rebranding. Now she draws and paints all our labels by hand and the horse in the sickle moon evolved to the WASSMANN UNIVERSE – our galaxy of living wines.
Now everything is expressed, what makes our wines different!
Individuality. Biodynamics. Liveliness. Complexity. Handwork. Beauty.
Let's ask Emese herself about the story:
'We sat at the table and began to collect symbols, motifs and associated ideas to determine what our joint ideas were. This collection grew and grew and developed into a whole universe. The concept was born: the holistic view and the practices which we call biodynamic mean a lot more to Susann and Ralf. They are much more personal to them and they form a world of their own.
I have so much respect for what great things they are achieving with their amazing spirituality. They have come to earn their own universe, in which the individual characters of their wines appear as planets. Right from the beginning this idea buzzed around in my head, not least because we read the following message on the cork when opening a bottle: Taste the sun, the stars, the life! To me their wines represent an own little world within the Villány wine region. This is symbolized by the universe too. The visual association of each wine is a planet, a watercolour painting. Then these planets are populated with life, with the tiny drawings which typify my work. So the macrocosm became a microcosm.
Cheers! To life – and to change!