The brothers Brand, Daniel and Jonas, have quickly brought attention to the far northern Pfalz, this cool-climate, limestone-rich, yet otherwise overlooked region.
The Brand brothers are electrifying their little town and this forgotten region. And they are doing so with huge smiles, a raucous joy – even downright excitement – in their role as stewards for the land.
It’s a rather curious blend of youthful exuberance, a surplus of energy and an unflappable belief in the future of viticulture in their vineyards, tempered by a maturity that is surprising given their ages (Daniel was born in 1990; Jonas in 1994).
If in some way the brothers, and their unique, crystalline natural wines, seem to have come out of nowhere, there is a context here. Their father, Jürgen, was one of the first advocates for environmentally conscious agriculture, joining an important organic organization in 1994. However, it wasn’t until Daniel came into the winery in 2014 that they made the transition to organic viticulture. Starting with vintage 2018, they are certified organic. They are also pursuing parts of the biodynamic philosophies, with the very real desire to understand and integrate its principles, without necessarily blindly following the ideology. The brothers, for their own parts, have worked with a bevy of “who’s who” producers including Lise and Bertrand Jousset in the Loire, and Alwin Jurtschitsch in Austria’s Kamptal.
For what it’s worth, I’ve seen few vineyards that are as wild, that so proudly flaunt their flora and fauna – I don’t know if it’s better for the wines, but it makes the trips through the vineyards something like a garden tour (see below). Frankly, it’s fucking beautiful; it’s also pure hell for those with allergies.
Nothing of what the brothers is doing is simple, or easy to explain, or, for that matter, sound in judgement. Spending so much time cultivating an old-vine parcel of Dornfelder is idiocy, when you consider how easy it would be to plant more Riesling and feed that market (which in places other than the U.S., is very strong).
But easy, logical decisions rarely make for soulful wines. And so here we are, and here you are.