Kammern is an area of ancient settlements. The home of Johannes Hirsch and his family bears eloquent witness to this. For some five hundred years now it has stood undaunted in this place – our house was constructed at the time when Albrecht Dürer created his famous woodcut ‘Rhinoceros’ and Michaelangelo was at work on his frescoes in Rome’s Sistine Chapel.
In 1878 the Hirsch family assumed ownership of this farmstead, constructed during the High Renaissance, and is now managing it in the fifth generation. As was the custom previously, it began with mixed farming, in which wine played a definite role alongside many other field crops. This remained the case until the end of the 1970s, when Johannes Hirsch’s father recognised that specialised viticulture most certainly had a bright future in a region so highly favoured by nature as the Kamptal.
Josef Hirsch, the father of Johannes, originally took over 2.5 hectares of vineyard from his own father. And it was not long before he was acquiring more vineyard land. ‘But he went about it in a revolutionary fashion from the very beginning,’ says Johannes. ‘He bought parcels that nobody else wanted to own. Precisely, up on the Heiligenstein, and not down below where it is nicely level and one can work easily and efficiently. The neighbours thought that he’d gone crazy.’
Observing this made a deep impression on Josef, and certainly contributed to his inheriting the family ‘attitude’. If you’re certain of the path you’ve chosen, you can’t allow yourself to be irritated by the gossip or the fearfulness of others – this belief stands like a motto for the development of the Hirsch Estate, from a farm into one of the leading wine producers in the Kamptal.
Johannes Hirsch had just turned fourteen years of age when his father made this far-reaching decision – and he shaped his own scheme of life in accordance with it. In 1996 the two of them reached the conclusion to put more emphasis on the true strengths of the enterprise. As Johannes puts it, We knew that we mustn’t get on the wrong track… At the height of the red wine boom in 1999, they cleared out all the red wine varieties, planting Riesling and Grüner Veltliner instead. Today Johannes Hirsch manages the estate together with his father, his mother and his very active wife Sandra. Despite the overwhelming workload, both Johannes and Sandra take plenty of time for their co-workers – and of course for the children, daughter Marie and the twins Florian & Josef.