The Braun Family has been established in Alsace since 1593. Since then, generations of wine-growers have succeeded each other from father to son. In 1960, Camille Braun decided to take over the establishment, and transition the domaine into a polyculture. Camille made the decision to focus activity on vine-growing health and develop a market for the wines over time. In tandem with his wife, Marguerite, the family transforms its 2.5 hectares into 8 hectares by 1987. The same year, they are joined by their son, Christophe, who will gradually takes over the day to day management of the project and today is the head of the company. The domaine now maintains 15 hectares of vines.
The 15 hectares of the Camille Braun winery are now worked by Christophe and his wife, Chantal. Since 2005 the vineyard has been certified organic and it has been biodynamic since 2005.
Please check out any one of our threes selections from this unique producer from Alsace, France. We review the entire winemaking process by season below:
”A great terroir wine dawns in a vineyard, outcome of a soil, a climate but most of all of daily respectful and sound practices.”
In the Winter: Lightly plowing one in two vine row allows to push the ground against the vine stocks to protect them from cold temperatures and humidity during the winter. It also permits to control the vegetation without using chemicals.
The vine pruning is done during the coldest months of the year. During this time the vine is resting and its sap is stored into the roots. The family selects two shoots that are going to hold the branches and the grapes for the next vintage at this time and everything else is removed from the vine. The cut wood is removed from the palissage (trellis) and chipped into mulch. The intention is that microorganisms in the ground will decompose it into assimilable minerals for the vine.
Winter @ Domaine Camille Braun
In the Spring: The family will shape each vine stock into two arches which correspond to the two sticks chosen during the pruning. The bend slows down the sap and permits to the branches to develop homogeneously. As a climbing plant, the vine would tend to favor bud growth at the ends.
The spring’s plowing is done to withdraw the land accumulated around the vine stocks as there is less likelihood for freezing to damage the vine. The most superficial vine roots are also cut to encourage a deeper rooting and a better mineral expression for the wines.
The disbudding permits to remove unnecessary vegetation. Sometimes, a single bud can gives two branches, which will encourage vegetation overgrowth, humidity and diseases (powdery mildew, mildew and rot). Limiting the yield will also give better aromatic concentrations for the grape and therefore for the wine.
In the Summer: Trellising allows the family to guide and manage the branches’ growth by maintaining them on a system. With the grape bunches, perfectly distributed, they will capture the maximum amount of light while also protecting from sunburn.
The family does mow the cover crop, which helps to control the grass growing in the non-plowed areas.
Leaf-stripping allows a better aeration of the trellis system as well. Without these extra steps, there would be a lack of ventilation and could encourage grape rot. The leaf-stripping also allows light to hit the less exposed grapes (often on the north side of the rows).
The Harvest: harvest is exclusively manual and usually begins in mid-September. The grapes are picked and sorted, then carried to the wine press in 80 kg tubs, to prevent them from compressing. All in less than 1 hour. This finicky work, is very important, and is accomplished by the winery's team of 25 faithful grape pickers who has been with them for many years.
The grapes are manually sorted a second time on a sorting table if necessary. Each parcel, terroir and grape variety is picked, pressed and vinified separately to preserve the typicity and the personality of each terroir. The blends will only be made later, at the end of the vinification and before the bottling.
Getting ready for winter
Grape varieties produced/%'s:
- Riesling : 20%
- Pinot Gris : 20%
- Gewurztraminer : 15%
- Pinot Blanc (for wines and Crémants d’Alsace) : 15%
- Pinot Noir : (for wines and Crémants d’Alsace) 15%
- Muscat : 5%
- Sylvaner : 5%
- Chardonnay (only for Crémants d’Alsace) : 5%
Vinification: The winery employs three pneumatic presses, to gently squeeze the grapes and release the precious juices. The use a soft, delicate press and lasts from 4 to 8 hours, depending on the grape variety.
The clarification lasts from around 18 to 24 hours and is done into stainless steel vat. The deposit (skin, pulp, and organic residues) is then removed. The juice is cleared and is then transferred into another vat for fermentation.
The alcoholic fermentation is done only using indigenous yeasts, naturally present in our wine cellar and on the grapes’ skin.
We do not interfere in the fermentation and the maturation process; no chemicals or treatments are added to the wine. Our Nature wine range is composed of wines that are produced without any sulfites at all. The temperatures are regulated to preserve the aromas. Some wines (mostly red) are fermenting in barrels (225L) or demi-muids (500L). The fermentation can last several months.
From the end of the fermentation, the wines are racked. The maturation on fine lees, which will bring bold and complexity, can then begin and will last from 5 to 12 months, until the bottling, between April and December. At that time, it is determined, how long to wait until release of each bottling and varietal.
We invite you to try these incredible natural wines from Camille Braun.