They are a family business. How does the work in a family business work?
My father works on the farm in the first place. My wife works 50% as a dental hygienist. My daughter is a lawyer and my son is currently studying oenology in Geisenheim. In this sense we are a family business, but we all have a commitment outside the family business. This means that everyone also has their own tasks to perform.
For Thomas Schmid it was clear from the beginning that he did not want to become a farmer and continue his parents' business as a farmer. He was taken with the vines on the family farm and so he decided to do an apprenticeship as a winemaker. Later he passed the master craftsman's examination. Little by little Thomas Schmid built up and expanded Schmidweine. Today, in addition to managing his own winery, he is also active as a wine taster for wine awards.
Who helps with the grape harvest?
Many acquaintances help us. The condition is of course that helpers are flexible, because depending on the weather and the situation we will decide at very short notice when to start. The vintage is always a cosy occasion for people to get together. That is why we have no trouble finding people to help.
Who will continue the business after you?
My son, Fabio Schmid, will take over the business. This means that my biggest dream has actually come true. I am very pleased that the family business is continuing. The cooperation between the generations works well for us. My son often comes up with new ideas and so the whole company is developing into a bright future. Sometimes I tell him that I do not intend to work on the farm as long as my father still does. He is 86 years old. But if I am honest, it will probably be no different with me.
What are particularly beautiful moments in the life of a winegrower?
The exciting and beautiful moments are definitely those during the harvest. When you hold the beautiful grapes in your hands and see that the work has been worthwhile throughout the year. Being able to harvest good quality in autumn makes us happy. Furthermore, at wine harvest everyone comes together and there is a cheerful atmosphere. And not to forget the moment when you can finally hold the pressed wine in your hands. Even when you present it to the customers and get good feedback, it is a great satisfaction. After all, you don't know in advance how the vintage will be received by the customers.
Have you ever questioned your choice of career?
No, that was never the case with me. On the contrary. The longer I practise this profession, the more I like it. The job becomes more exciting for me from year to year.
I knew right from the start that traditional farming was not for me. Making wine was and is my business. Of course it was hard at the beginning. When I switched the business from classical agriculture to viticulture, we didn't have a single customer. Nevertheless we had to try to bring our wines to the man and woman. If I look at the beginnings, I am more than satisfied with the development of the farm.
What do you enjoy most about your work as a winemaker?
Certainly the change in the daily work routine. The job is so varied that you never get bored. If you also work in your own company, there are other positive aspects. For example, I get up in the morning and I'm at work right away.
Do you sometimes feel a bit too much connected to your work?
No. At least that was never a problem for me. But it is true that you are always somehow at work when you work where you live. In this respect, my family sometimes had to put the brakes on me and convince me not to do anything.
How to imagine the Schmid winery?
Our vines grow on the southern slopes at the edge of the village on medium steep terrain. On one side is the forest, opposite the vineyard is the Rhine river and the border with Germany.
The longer I do this job, the better I like it.
Who are your customers?
We have many private customers. We were extremely grateful for this, especially now during the Corona crisis. We are certainly on the right track in this respect. The fact that we have predominantly private customers was the case from the very beginning, and this has come about naturally. The longer we ran our business, the more we were able to expand our customer base.
In addition, we have partnerships with restaurants. This accounts for about a quarter of our sales. These restaurants enable us to present the wine to a wider audience and thus win new customers from all over Switzerland.
Do you work with restaurants from all over Switzerland or do you focus on local partnerships?
We actually have mostly local partners. Most of them belong to the upscale gastronomy. However, as we supply, for example, a wellness hotel that accommodates guests from all over Switzerland, we also reach wine lovers outside our region.
Do you also have an international clientele?
Almost not. We can count customers from abroad on one hand. This is indeed a certain problem with the viticulture in our area. We practically stand with our backs to Germany and thus have only one direction in which we can sell our wine. Cross-border commuters from Germany who buy wine here are very rare.
What are your plans and goals for the coming years?
The big question for the future of our farm is whether we want to convert completely to organic farming. In viticulture this is not easy, but a sustainable and careful treatment of nature is close to our heart. It's nice to know that today we have a great deal of knowledge about how the plants react or what possibilities and gentle means are available to deal with the typical problems in the vineyard. This makes the step to organic farming a little easier.