Every other month, ‘Whose Wine is it Anyway?’ profiles a German winemaker to give you a behind-the-vines look at the world of German wine. This month, we’re highlighting Jonas and Daniel Brand of Brand! Located in the Pfalz, the Brand brothers bring a non-traditional perspective and youthful exuberance to their winemaking.
Whose *Wine* is it Anyway? Meet Daniel and Jonas Brand
Born in 1990 (Daniel) and 1994 (Jonas) and raised in Bockenheim, the Brand brothers have been credited with breathing new life into their northern Pfalz hometown through their experimental natural and organic wines. While Daniel is responsible for tending to the cellar and office administration, and Jonas focuses on the vineyards and events around the world, both brothers are integral to the winemaking process. Fifth generation winemakers, the Brands grew up witnessing the joy the profession brought their parents. They decided to follow suit, first completing three-year apprenticeships each at different wineries across Germany, Austria, and Australia.
This international experience, paired with the way they were raised, has resulted in their viticultural philosophy of an organic-regenerative approach to farming. Their father, Jürgen, was an early advocate for environmentally conscious agriculture, joining an organic organization in 1994, refraining from herbicides, and working with rotational cover crops to build up soil fertility. Still, it wasn’t until both brothers joined the winery in 2014 that they transitioned to fully organic viticulture and started experimenting with natural winemaking. The estate is now certified organic, starting with the 2018 vintage, and is pursuing biodynamic philosophies. The brothers aim to pass the land down to their children and future generations in the best condition possible.
We are 5th generation winemakers, so stepping into that role and work was really easy.
— Daniel and Jonas Brand
The Brand estate contains 18 hectares of Riesling, Weissburgunder (Pinot Blanc), Silvaner, Müller-Thurgau, Dornfelder, Spätburgunder (Pinot Noir), and more vines ranging from five to twenty to eighty years old. Their land is handled with the goal of improving and optimizing their farming to facilitate soil health and fertility. The brothers take a unique approach to their vines, strengthening them with plant-based products including herbal extracts, tea, and oils. No herbicides are used in addition to a complete lack of tilling and reduced mowing. These actions, paired with natural cover crops, build up organic matter and create a more resilient, diverse ecosystem. Biodiversity is an important aspect to the Brand estate, as evident by the flora and fauna in their vineyards. Clover and herbs are used to attract bees as well as other insects to the vines, making the grounds healthier and more fertile.
In combination with the optimal climatic conditions at the Haardtrand, healthy and juicy grapes are growing in natural equilibrium. The vigorous vineyards at the beginning of the German Weinstrasse of Northern Pfalz give rise to wines full of character and of genuine organic quality.
— Daniel and Jonas Brand
Typical Brand wines feature bright and structured acidity with clean fruity and herbal notes – full of soulful character and genuine organic quality.
The natural wines from Brand are different from their contemporaries, as the estate follows a hands-off approach to winemaking, allowing the wines to develop on their own. After creating the perfect fermentation conditions for the yeast and bacteria, there is no interference until it is time to bottle, which is determined individually by taste. The natural “Pur” wines are produced without any additives, fining, or filtration. If filtration is needed, it is very light — and no animal products are used, so all wines are vegan.
It all started during Jonas’ time training in Austria, where he first tasted and immediately fell in love with natural wines. Their first experimentation, Silvaner Elis 2014, lead them to Pet-Nat in their efforts to stabilize natural wine. Since then, Daniel and Jonas have created Pet-Nats that are as interesting and expressive as the men who make them. Brand Pet-Nats are riveting, racing, and focused, and have already garnered a dedicated following among fans of the category.
Meanwhile, they have also refined their techniques for still natural wines. This started with Pinot Blanc (Weissburgunder in Germany) – they made one part with 30mg/L sulfur and one part with none, and felt that the zero-sulfur batch was much more deep, complex, and vivid. Thus their “Pur” line of wines was born!
For those new to their wines, Jonas and Daniel recommend the very same Pinot Blanc Pur. Besides being their first zero-Sulphur wine, the brothers believe that any vintage of this wine demonstrates the variety and terroir exceptionally, with well-integrated acidity, classic florality, fruity notes, and mineral character inherent to the grape and the region’s typical wines.
Farmers at Heart
Daniel and Jonas’ love of agriculture extends beyond grapevines — the two are bringing the estate back to its roots. Back in 1892, the property was a mixed agriculture farm, hosting animals and vegetables as well as grapes. Since 2022, they started to grow field crops again and planted the first trees on the family’s old farmland. The brothers see organic farming and land preservation as the basis of their work as well as their hobby. When they’re not working on their wines, they can be found cultivating their vegetables (or running, scuba diving, or mountain climbing). Also on their property is a chicken coop where the two can harvest fresh eggs.