Bencze Birtok

"It's about bottling a piece of nature, full of life, sending the energy of our terroir to wine lovers."

How did you find yourself working in wine?

Bencze Birtok 1

Almost completely by accident. I worked in IT as a software developer before and started to buy wines (mainly cheap ones) somehow. Later I spent one year in Florence, Tuscany where I started to cook, drink coffee and taste different wines. When I came back I did WSET schools up to the advanced level but I felt that I’m more into making than only tasting. During that time I had a lot of thoughts about my life, career and how I imagined my future. All that time I was longing to do something in nature with my hands instead of sitting in front of the PC in the air conditioned office. In November of 2011 we bought a small piece of land on Szent György-hill, the place where I now live and work. 2012 is my first vintage that I did commuting from Budapest on the weekends. In November of 2012 I decided to finish my IT career and move there. I have lived here since January of 2013 and I would never go back to IT…

Bencze Birtok

what do you do outside of vineyard that helps you make great wine?

Sometimes I use my IT skills, tho sometimes it’s not helpful at all in agriculture. I try to do activities that pauses the mind like yoga, playing the guitar, surfing or learning to listen to the signs of nature.

where do you seek inspiration?

Nature, music, paintings, and gastronomy.

Are you big wine-drinker?

Bencze Birtok 2

Yes, unfortunately yes. I always like to taste wines from new growers, new varieties and new approaches. 5-6 years ago I could drink more, now I just prefer tasting, having some glass in the evening but not more. I started to drink a lot of different teas which is a very inspiring new world for me now.

What do you like to drink?

Mainly acid-driven whites or light reds with reduction and energy. Jura anytime! Loire of course!

Is there a wine out there that you wish you could claim as your own?

It’s a very interesting question. Of course there is, a lot. For example Lias of Domaine Labet, Les Noëls de Montbenault of Richard Leroy or the Prime of Les Fréres Soulier… amazing wines!

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But perhaps I could not claim it as my own since if I would try to reproduce it here, it would only become a copy of that given wine from that given terroir which I love. But it’s that wine from that given terroir made by that given grower and not me. But more important: not from that terroir where I work.

Maybe sometimes it’s interesting to try or practice a style that you like from a different wine region, winemaker or terroir but the final question is always that: how could I listen to the real and unique sound of my place/terroir instead of listening (and then showing) the sound coming from my mind.

What has been the greatest selling point of working in wine?

The love of being in nature.

What does producing wine mean to you?

Bottling a piece of nature, full of life, sending the energy of our terroir to wine lovers.

Where do you think the wine industry is right now? Is it a good place?

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Yes, I think or I want to believe that it is turning in the right direction now but so slowly like all the fields of agriculture. I hope so.

Where can we find your wines being sold? Which of these places makes you feel proud?

Around 14 countries, mainly around us to Europe. Every place, every small place or buyer is important.

What is most important to you about your land and the way you farm?

Living soil, sustainability, diversity.

What’s your most prized creation?

Aries 17, Atlas 18, Kéknyelű 19, Furmint 19, Riesling 19

what informs your decision-making process?

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I always try to make notes of my observations in the vineyards and also in the cellar. We do analyses many times, to be honest less and less times giving more focus on sensory observations , but I try to organise all of my notes labelled by keywords that can be very helpful when I am facing a new situation.

On the other hand I try to forget the systematic way since there are almost so many different possible solutions that you are not able to try all since you have very few harvests in your lifetime.

So what can humans do? Just being human (not god).

So trying to listen and just having the joy of being, doing things outside, in nature, just enjoying the things that we have around us. The result will be the wine somehow, the others do not matter at all.