Sowing the seed in 2003, Michael Schmelzer, who is American, moved to Italy with his family and purchased 10ha of organic vineyards, in the “belly button of Chianti Classico” at Monte Bernardi. When he planted in 2005 and began farming biodynamically, he did not yet know what it would entail or how difficult it would be, but he did know that conventional vineyards tend to spray when it rains, to help prevent the grapes from rotting, and that these chemicals simply wash off of the vines and into the soil. He decided that if he built from the roots–from the base up–then he would have healthy vines that were less frequently inundated with mold and pests.
And though he has always made vegan wines, he has chosen to add this to the Tetra Pak packaging. With conventional wines, there is a list of over 200 ingredients that can legally be added, including fish bladder and gelatin from hooves. With organic wines, the list is limited to 50 or 60 optional ingredients. Michael chooses to add nothing but grapes and a small amount of sulfur to his wines–only 70 parts to his white wines and 45 parts to his reds. (Organically certified wines are allowed up to 100 parts of sulfur.)
Knowing that the average consumer might not expect such high quality wines in Tetra Paks, Michael said, “How quickly this is successful is determined by how people sell them. If a retailer puts them in the ‘bag-in-a-box’ section, then the people for whom the wine is intended won’t buy it.”