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VDP: What is so special about your winery?
Matthias Hey: It may sound a little kitschy, but anyone who visits our estate at the foot of the historic Naumburger Steinmeister terraces feels like they have stepped into another world. The location of our winery, its idyllic, Mediterranean-style courtyard and the vineyard directly behind is something very special.
VDP: What is your winery philosophy?
Matthias Hey: We are not only winemakers, but also enthusiastic ambassadors of culture and culinary delights. Of course, our primary aim is to enthuse people with uncompromisingly good wines, but true to the motto “Good wine is best drunk with friends”, we attach great importance to a varied programme of events. Our guests should not only taste our wine when they visit us, but also have a very enjoyable time.
VDP: For wine style do you strive?
Matthias Hey: In our early years, I was incredibly sceptical about Riesling and actually had little desire to make it. But the more I occupied myself with it, the greater my love for this variety became. In the meantime, we are a Riesling winery with about 50 % of our vineyard area dedicated to this variety, which is rather unusual for the Saale-Unstrut region. Our shell limestone and red sandstone soils lend Riesling, in particular, an incredibly complex and spicy aroma that clearly sets it apart from the “established” regions. This style inspires me every year anew and brings me a lot of joy.
VDP: Which of your wines would you recommend to someone who does not yet know your winery – as an introduction, so to speak?
Matthias Hey: Our “Weisser Hey” has become the visiting card of our winery. The cuvée partners are always Silvaner, Riesling and Pinot Blanc, in proportions that vary depending on the vintage. With this wine we bridge the gap between easy-drinking pleasure and complexity.
VDP: Of which wine are you particularly proud?
Matthias Hey: Saale-Unstrut is not necessarily known for its great red wines, but 2013 was very special for us in this respect. Our Blauer Zweigelt Breitengrad 51 from the 2013 vintage is a wine that has made a lasting impression on us with its full aroma and structure. In some blind tastings, this Zweigelt could have been unquestionably been mistaken a great Rioja. That made me very proud back then.
VDP: Why did you become a vintner?
Matthias Hey: The decision to become a winegrower was actually a coincidence: After my parents bought this winery in 2001, I was often “allowed” to help in the vineyard. Because I really enjoyed working in nature and on the mountain, I simply went to Geisenheim to study oenology.
VDP: Do you have role models, mentors?
Matthias Hey: André Gussek from the eponymous winery in Naumburg shaped me enormously in my early years as a winegrower and still does so today. He stood and stands by me with his expertise and assistance. Through his self-critical nature and uncompromising perfectionism, he has taught me to even question the tried and tested.
VDP: What are your next goals?
Matthias Hey: In the next few years a new cellar building is definitely on the agenda. The old manor building has a lot of charm, but the space available is very limited. A real vinotheque should be available sometime.
VDP: How do you combine tradition and innovation?
Matthias Hey: We don't have any real traditions; we are simply too young for that as a company in the first generation. In the cellar, however, we concentrate on traditional winemaking methods, work with spontaneous and slow fermentation, and long maceration periods. We give our wines plenty of time in the cellar. We don’t want to beat them up to get them into the bottle.
VDP: Why should people visit your winery?
Matthias Hey: The Saale-Unstrut region is a picturesque place. The river landscape, characterised by vineyards, vineyard cottages and castles, is simply breathtakingly beautiful.
Pictures: © VDP.Estate Hey by Thorsten BielManfred Fischer, Enrico Potzesny, Deutsches Weininstitut, Konrad Stöhr