For decades now father and son team, Josef and Johannes, have operated the Hirsch Wine Estate according to a personal creed: To work together with nature, and not against it!

With a view of the beautiful Kamp River Valley - with its myriad of soils, biodiversity and microclimates - from their tasting room window, it’s easy to see from where the Hirsch family draw their inspiration. From their 31-hectare, biodynamically certified (Respekt-BioDyn) estate in Kammern, they remain strong in their convictions to utilise the positive energy and vitality of the region surrounding them.

The winery is a family business, with the Hirsch family working the 16th century farmstead since taking ownership in 1878. The family practised mixed up until the 1970s, when Josef Hirsch recognised that specialised viticulture had a bright future in a region as highly favoured by nature as the Kamptal. Once the decision was made, Josef began to expand the vineyards. “He went about it in a revolutionary fashion from the very beginning,” explains Josef’s son, Johannes.

“He bought parcels that nobody else wanted to own. He chose precisely, including up on the Heiligenstein, and not down below where it is nicely level and one can work easily and efficiently. The neighbours thought that he’d gone crazy!” 

The “craziness” continued over the years. By 1979 Josef had begun to use only natural fertiliser from his friend and neighbour’s goats and buffalos.

Observing this made a deep impression on Johannes, and certainly contributed to his inheriting the family ‘attitude’. “If you’re certain of the path you’ve chosen, you can’t allow yourself to be irritated by the gossip or the fearfulness of others”. This belief stands like a motto for the development of the Hirsch Estate, from a simple farm into one of the leading wine producers in the Kamptal. In 1999 he shocked the local wine world by announcing his very last red wine harvest. A move very much against-the-trend for the time, he cleared out all of the red wine vineyards and began planting and producing Grüner Veltliner and Riesling exclusively. The move was later vindicated by the establishment of the Kamptal DAC rules for the quality production of these iconic varieties. 

Johannes, along with his wife Sandra Hirsch, represent the 5th generation of the family to work the land. They are joined by their children Marie, Florian and Josef, as well as parents Josef and Christine (and of course their dog Janis!) in “lending a hand to the workings of nature”. The transition towards biodynamic viticulture, and gaining organic certification in 2010, was testament to this ethos, and by 2011 Falstaff magazine had named Hirsch as their Wine Producer of the Year!

The family’s wine production philosophy sees them put their money towards the quality-supportive practices with which great wines have been made for centuries – grapes harvested by hand in small containers, gentle cellar work such as whole-berry pressing, spontaneous fermentation and extended lees-contact, followed by a late bottling.

“Our philosophy is ‘letting the wine happen’, as a conscious contrast to today’s more typical attitude of ‘making the wine’,” explains Johannes. “I feel a deep love for this region and its soils. I couldn’t make wine anywhere else in the world, because my wines are defined by their sense of origin and draw their character from the soil. These are wines for sophisticated connoisseurs, for patient devotees who will give a wine the time it needs to blossom.”

The resulting wines are exceptional - firm minerality combines with beautifully smooth texture to showcase the full terroir of each independent plot. The estate specialises in Riesling and Grüner Veltliner, grapes that they consider to be ideally suited to the terroir of the Kamptal. Rarely more than 12.5% abv, the lightness of character and vibrant clarity make these wines really difficult to resist!