Nicolas and Mathieu Schmit took over the family business in Ahn that is now a completely organic wine growing operation. The dry style of the house will be continued by the brothers.
The “Masion Viticole Schmit-Fohl” was founded in Ahn in the 18th century. In 1985, Armand Schmit and his wife Patrizia, who got to know each other during their studies in Paris, took over the helm of the business. Armand preferred to produce quite dry wines and he invested in a modern wine press and a small Barrique park in order to give his wines a special something: a vineyard with a personal signature!
In 2016, the oldest son Nicolas joined the business and, three years later, his brother Mathieu. “Really, I never thought of doing something else than taking over the business for it already fascinated me from a young age,” says Nicolas Schmit, whose parents never “pressured him.”
Nicolas studied viniculture and oenology in Weinsberg in Baden-Württemberg and gained practical experience in the Champagne region and in an organic company in the Palatinate region, where he learned valuable knowledge about organic winegrowing. “In order to see other places in the world outside of central Europe,” he did an internship in Franschhoek in South Afrika, in the renowned wine region of Stellenbosch / Cape Winelands.
Together towards organic
In 2017, Armand and Nicolas converted the business completely to an organic production. “My father was always open for new ideas, and we took the decision together,” emphasizes the young winegrower. “Since we could not restrict the harvest amount further and we already do a lot in terms of quality management in the cellar, we are trying to foreground the Terroir of the various sites through the conversion to organic, therefore distinguishing between the different wines. And organic wine production works much better for that than conventional winegrowing,” Nicolas explains. Because the vineyards all lie between Machtum and Ehnen, and the business is well constructed on a personal level as well as in its machinery, the transition to organic was relatively straightforward.
Mathieu, who is two years younger than his brother, studied communications in Brussels for a while and did not originally envision his future in the family business. But over time, he developed enthusiasm for the idea of working together with his brother and trained in the wine trade and wine industry in the Champagne region. Nicolas is responsible for the technical tasks in the production, so for the work on the vineyards and in the cellar, while Mathieu is mainly responsible for the marketing and operational management. After their father Armand retired in 2020, a new cooperation was founded at the start of this year.
A new Crémant-Cuvée
Nicolas and Mathieu want to continue the “dry” line of the house and continue using Barriques, “but not in order to give the wines a woody flavour, rather so that the grape variety and Terroir is foregrounded.” It is not planned to bring many new varieties onto the market, “but if a vintage allows the production of a special wine, we are naturally not averse to that,” Nicolas reveals. Recently, a new Crémant-Cuvée Brut Nature came onto the market, one that lay on yeast for a few years and to that no liqueur was added – an excellent Chardonnay-dominating Cuvée that can compete with the many large Champagnes made in this style. Four years ago, the Schmits planted Pinot Meunier that will be added to the Crémant production.
And how has the “Maison Viticole Schmit-Fohl” survived the pandemic? “Quite well,” Nicolas summarizes, “for our family business is relatively small and can be flexibly and reactively managed. For example, we turned a part of our cellar into a wine bar, a concept that brought us many new clients. And our regular customers stayed loyal to us and that contributed to the fact that we were able to absorb some of the losses from the closure of the cafés and restaurants. We escaped with a black eye.”
Maison Viticole Schmit-Fohl
8, Rue de Niederdonven — L-5401 Ahn
Tel. +352 / 76 02 310