Ueli & Jürg Liesch

Weine Familien Liesch,  Bündner Herrschaft, Switzerland

5
Grapes
10
Wines
Nothing happens overnight, it is a flowing process.

Where are the roots of the Liesch Winery?

Ueli Liesch: Our winery has grown organically over three generations. The grandfather was a farmer and laid the foundation for the winery by moving to the newly built farm outside the village. Growing vines was only one part of his work. At the beginning of the 1960s our father took over the business and got specialised in viticulture completely. After the apprenticeship as a winegrower, my brother and I set up a cellar in 1984. Before that, the father was in a wine press community with other people from Malanse, through which he sold his wine.

Ueli und Jürg Liesch

The Liesch brothers were born into viticulture. Even as children they worked on their parents' farm. Ueli Liesch completed his apprenticeship as a winegrower. Jürg Liesch originally wanted to pursue a sporting career, but decided to stay in viticulture while he was still training as a winemaker. At the end of the 1980s, both spent a year abroad in the "Lazy Creek Vineyards" in California. Back in Switzer-land they completed their training as farm managers. This was followed by the examination for the master craftsman's certificate and in 1991 they took over their parents' business.

What is your philosophy as a winemaker?

Ueli Liesch: For us, viticulture is a sporting challenge. Every year we want to achieve the best possible result or even produce the best possible product. Every year offers a different starting point, the result is never the same.

How do you deal with defeats?

Ueli Liesch: You have to learn to draw the right conclusions from a setback. I never perceive challenges as defeats; even from a difficult year very good wines can emerge. That is at least as satisfying as having an easy year in which everything fits together. If I perceive a failure as a defeat, I would be in the wrong place.

What are the aspects of the winemaking profession that you particularly appreciate?

Jürg Liesch: No year is like the other. We work with nature and not against it. There are many gut decisions that have to be made. What is the right thing in one year does not necessarily have to be the solution in another year. So it remains interesting because every year brings new tasks.

What are the downsides of the profession?

Ueli Liesch: Every year brings many challenging situations, and sometimes you wonder whether everything will turn out well. The result can only be seen at the end. The climate is a challenge every year. Another task is marketing. We are currently converting our farm to organic. This development entails new requirements.

What does the conversion to organic mean?

Ueli Liesch: We are in the middle of the process. For two years, the operation is considered a so-called "changeover operation". In the third year, the full bud will be granted and the farm will then be fully certified as organic. 30 years ago, we were there from the very beginning when integrated production emerged. We wanted to reduce fertilisation and plant protection to a minimum. The changeover to organic is now the next logical step.

There are certain years that everyone talks about, and that you don't forget yourself. One of them was the year 2003, which was hot and dry.

What does vine care look like on an organic farm?

Ueli Liesch: Plant protection products are always necessary. But on organic farms, more time must be invested in plant protection and vine care. A major difference to conventional farming is that herbicides must not be used. However, we have been refraining from this for some years now. In any case, the conversion to organic did not happen overnight. We already gained our experience during a few years on a plot of land. With the decision to be an organic farm, the entire operation will be converted.

Is the pressing process in organic wine production different from that in integrated production?

Ueli Liesch: The vinification is not much different, and the restrictions in the cellar are less severe than outside in the vineyard. Some aids are always needed, and these may also be used in the organic sector. We accompany the wine as before, we do not "make" it.

Can you remember the first sip of wine?

Ueli Liesch: Not at the very first, but I know that we were allowed to sip from our parents' wine glass when we were children. We didn't have wine regularly, but on Sundays or when we had people over, we were allowed to taste it.

Your team consists of twelve people - what is the division of labour?

Ueli Liesch: The two run the business together. The company is too small to really split the work. Therefore, it is not the case that one is responsible for the grapes and the other for the wine. The sister-in-law is responsible for the administration. An apprentice is part of the team all year round. For the foliage work we get support from people from the surrounding area and for the harvest we have a team of experienced helpers who have been working with us for years. We are very happy about this, because it is crucial for the quality of the wine that accurate work is done already during the harvest.

Which experience did you remember in particular?

Ueli Liesch: There are certain years that everyone talks about and that you don't forget yourself. One of them was the year 2003, which was hot and dry. We picked the grapes very early this year, as we had never experienced to this extent before. Fortunately, we were spared from severe storms or hailstorms in all these years. The year 2017 with the devastating early frost will be negatively remembered.

What are your plans or visions for your winery?

Ueli Liesch: We always want to develop ourselves further. One step at the moment is certainly the conversion to organic farming. This will keep us busy for a while. In this context it is also possible that we might try out one or the other new variety in the future.

Weine Familien Liesch
Weine Familien Liesch

Bündner Herrschaft, Switzerland

Ueli & Jürg Liesch

Grapes
5
Grapes
Wines
10
Wines

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