Sustainable delight: The biodynamic family winery Hench in Churfranken


Fortunately, the wife of the junior chef contacted me and asked me to write something about their winery, because otherwise I probably still would not know this hidden gem. So be surprised and dive with me into the sustainable world of this dedicated family winery.

“Churfranken: A Glimpse into Sustainable Winemaking in this Picturesque Region”

Churfranken, an idyllic region in the heart of Germany, is known not only for its idyllic landscapes and charming half-timbered villages, but also for its considerable contribution to viticulture in Germany. Here, in the midst of this wine region, is the Hench Winery, a family owned business that has been growing grapes for many generations, playing a prominent role in sustainability and organic viticulture.

The Hench family cultivates vines on about 7 hectares and has already decided in 2013 for biodynamic viticulture out of conviction. This is not only about the organic cultivation of vines, but involves a holistic approach that focuses on the diversity of nature, the health of the vines and the harmonious coexistence of man and vineyard.

A look into the vineyard: sustainability in practice

If you still have no idea what sustainable and ecological work means and what it looks like in practice, you should take a look at those vineyards. Here, legumes are grown and wild herbs are tended to in the vineyards to promote plant and animal diversity. Additionally, herbal teas and plant extracts are used to naturally support the health of the vines.

A special action is also the regular reseeding of green areas every 3-4 years to keep the soil fertile and promote biodiversity. In the case of young vines, every second row remains free when seeding, depending on weather conditions, and is only completely reseeded after another 3-4 years. Again, the goal is fertile soil and a rich diversity of all living organisms in the vineyards. These areas are also very popular with the sheep, which help in the maintenance of the vine rows. However, they are better off spending the summer in their own pastures, away from the vines, as the sweet berries are very popular not only with us humans.

The winery’s large self-sustaining garden is populated by chicken, and even the children are taking on their first responsibility for animals, for example in caring for the turtles. Here they have to keep a watchful eye on the hard-shelled pets, because as soon as the opportunity arises they like to escape to feast on the neighboring vine.

Tradition meets innovation: The Hench Winery through the ages

The family winery has a long history dating back to 1563. At that time, viticulture was already an integral part of the mixed farming operation. The estate has always remained in family ownership and has continuously developed over the centuries.

Over the past 50 years, the Hench winery has placed an increasing focus on red wines and has also played a pioneering role in the region, which is now popular with wine connoisseurs worldwide for its excellent reds. Beginning in 1980, the farm was expanded, and in 1996 a new wine cellar was built adjacent to the old vaulted cellar. Today, three generations live on the estate, and this summer the handover from Burkhard to Peter took place. The women of the family, Ramona and Helene, also work hand in hand and actively support the family team. And the next generation? It’s already in the starting blocks and, as children are, they keep everyone well on their toes 😉

Wine craftsmanship at the Hench Winery

Wine production at the Hench Winery unites manual skills and traditional methods. On the terraced sites, particular emphasis is placed on gentle manual labor during harvesting, while in the cellar the focus is on the individual processing of the different wine varieties. Early in the vineyard, a careful selection of the best grapes takes place, especially for the reserve wines. The red wines undergo a traditional maceration and are aged in oak barrels of different sizes. Even Pinot Blanc, Blanc de Noirs and Silvaner are allowed to develop their unique character through partial aging in wooden barrels. The use of wood leads to a natural malolactic fermentation, and the duration of contact with the yeast varies depending on the quality level.

In addition to these characterful styles, fruitier wines are also aged in stainless steel tanks. In the preparation of single-vineyard wines, the wine is given sufficient space to develop its full potential and to express the unique characteristics of the vineyards.

The vineyards of the Hench Winery

The Hench Winery cultivates three outstanding locations in Bürgstadt: the Hundsrück, the Centgrafenberg and the Mainhölle. The Mainhölle is particularly noteworthy because the majority of the site is farmed by the renowned Juliusspital winery in Würzburg. Only three other wineries have leased some rows of vines there for about 15 years. In this unique site, Pinot Meunier and Pinot Noir thrive magnificently on the red sandstone weathered soils of the Main square.

The Hundsrück site, another jewel, consists exclusively of terraces and has always been worked by hand. Regent, a PIWI grape variety, thrives here. But other future grape varieties such as Muscaris, Satin Noir and Souvignier Gris have also found a home in Churfranken. As a family winery, the Henchs always kept the next generation firmly in mind and have therefore long recognized the importance of the new robust grape varieties. Meanwhile, 10% of the vine rows are already planted with PIWI grape varieties, which makes an important contribution to sustainability.

Sustainable Wine Experience: Discovering Hench Winery in Churfranken

The Hench Winery in Churfranken impressively demonstrates how tradition and innovation come together in viticulture. Their commitment to biodynamic agriculture, the preservation of natural diversity and the quality of their wines set standards for sustainable enjoyment.

When the opportunity arises, it is recommended to taste their wines and experience for yourself the hospitable atmosphere of the Hench Winery in Churfranken.

… and for those who would like to learn more about the wines, I recommend this article – it’s all about the different wine styles and grape varieties from Hench.