Long Live the Paysan
Who We Are
The idea for Vinatur Natural Wines was born in 2011, when I moved back to Switzerland after 26 years in the U.S.A. only to find the natural wines I loved to drink in New York, Paris and London were nowhere to be found in my new home of Zürich.
Our story began with bringing small batches of wine into Switzerland for friends and family. By 2014 we had grown enough to become an officially licensed Swiss importer. Since then, we have grown from sourcing wines for our private clients and select restaurants in Switzerland to bringing natural wine to enthusiasts around the world. Thank you for being part of our story.
- Gian, Founder & CEO, Vinatur Natural Wines
I am a Cuban – Puerto Rican American who has lived in Europe since 2005, from Palma de Mallorca, Marseille and Wales to Madrid and the Priorat. I moved to Barcelona in 2010 and almost immediately started travelling to Priorat on weekends and holidays. I started visiting winemakers and going to wine fairs regularly. One afternoon I tasted a particular bottle of Carignan from 60 year old vines and that was it for me: a few months later I moved to Priorat and started working at Saó del Coster, the small biodynamic winery in Gratallops that made that very wine called Planassos. I was also involved in every aspect of the wine making process and had been one of the most rewarding and difficult experiences of my life. People would tell me, wow, you’re so lucky. I was. But making wine is hard, sometimes excruciating work, especially in a region where the slopes are so steep you need mules or horses to plough and most of the work is done manually.
I was involved with small growers and farmers from the very start, real people making real wines in Priorat and the rest of Spain. Wines farmed organically or biodynamically, with little or no intervention during the vinification and aging processes: electric wines that make me feel alive. I started helping growers sell their wines in Puerto Rico and eventually in Switzerland as well. In 2019, love (what else?) and work brought me to Zurich. I googled natural wine importers in Switzerland, Vinatur! came up immediately, I ordered a case of beautiful wines, emailed Gian and suggested lunch. We met that very week and that was it. I’m inspired by the Vinatur! philosophy “Demand purity. Expect the extraordinary.” and want to bring in exciting and remarkable producers from my favourite corners of Spain.
- Michelle, Head of Restaurant Sales and Director of Vinatur’s Spanish Selection
The Vinatur Standard
At Vinatur, we are dedicated to a single mission:
To bring our clients the most enjoyable low-intervention wines from around the world.
By specialising in low-intervention wines with little- to no added sulphites, we begin with a fundamentally purer wine. Then, guided by our Vinatur Standard, we seek to select the best tasting, most enjoyable wines. The Vinatur! Natural Wine Standard is guided by minimal intervention: nothing added, nothing taken away. What does this mean on the vineyard?
Organic or bio-dynamic farming;
Hand harvesting and controlled yields;
Natural vinification with no intervention – that means no added yeasts, no chaptalisation, no filtration, no additives, and little (preferably zero) added sulphites;
Produce pure wines that are fun and pleasurable to drink;
The term “natural” is not an official wine designation or description and therefore leads to much debate about what it actually means. The natural wines we select fly in the face of commercial stereotypes. They resist any standardised definitions on the market today and refuse to conform to mass market pressures. They are alive and evolve in the bottle as well as on the palate. These wines are born of a strict approach: soils are tilled, or not, based on their individual characteristics, the vines tended and harvested by hand, the wines fermented without any corrective measures. No chemical additions, non-indigenous yeasts, filtration, added sulphites, chaptalisation or tampering with acidity levels is tolerated. These wines may undergo uncommonly long fermentations, but that is the will of nature and it is the duty of the vigneron to accompany this evolution.
We prefer drinking wines without added sulphites because it inhibits oxidisation and acts as an antiseptic, perhaps limiting the potential of the wine. Though the intention is to increase shelf-life in the commercial sense, the result is sterilisation, suffocation and a wine with no heartbeat. Sometimes, a few milligrams of sulfur is added by a well-intentioned natural vigneron to ensure consistency.
We discover these wines by visiting prospective producers frequently, understanding the quality of their harvests and the pace of fermentations. Our clients experience these wines at our tasting events, in select restaurants and in our online shop. Our natural wines are grown and produced to the highest standards for natural wine. Be sure not confuse them with industry labels such as Bio, Organic, Demeter or Bio-Dynamic.
The wineries who produce these wines have reached irreproachable ethical and environmental consciousness. Philosophical wines, indeed.
Skim or whole, perhaps organic, imported or local, filtered, pasteurised, sterilised, homogenised, often nutritionally fortified: this is the milk we are taught to love. Why question something so commonplace? But drink the fresh milk ofa grass fed cow, and you will know the true taste of milk!
The peasant, whose life depends on this cow, knows its taste changes with the seasons, the age of the cow and its diet. And so it is with natural wine: the peasant, shunning pesticides, chemicals, additives, yeasts and sulfur, knows the true beauty of her wine. Our “peasants”, the growers of natural wines, exercise great discipline, skill and patience at the mercy of nature.
Industrialisation for mass consumption has transformed wine production. The majority of wine consumed today is cultivated by grape manufacturers and produced by beverage factories. Ingredient labels are non-existent: for consumers, ignorance is bliss. But the truth is in the glass! This industrialisation produces cheap wine with standardised tastes, tailored to consumer panels, regardless of the year or harvest quality. A broad market is satisfied, and many winemakers grow wealthy.
But isn’t my wine “bio”? This misleading labelling applies loosely to farming, not vinification. Uht milk fortified with vitamins is far removed from what the “bio” cow originally produced. The greatest challenge is to do nothing: add nothing, remove nothing, and alter nothing. Nature is not perfect, but we know that when left to its own devices its product is better than any attempt by man.