Freimeister Kollektiv was founded in Berlin by artist and distiller Theo Ligthart in 2016 to bring small producers to the market in the most accessible way possible. With a world of consumers looking for a more diversified spirits experience, the collective seeks to answer the challenge of “complying with an increasing demand for transparency and sustainability” (Theo Ligthart). Theo came to distilling through his own art – he created a Dopplekorn together with a Brandenburg distillery, examining how a piece balances between being art and a commercial product. He brings this kind of collaborative, experimental energy to each project under Freimeister Kollektiv. He has created a network of around 30 distillers and bartenders in Germany, France, Austria, Estonia, Denmark, Ukraine, Spain, and Mexico that create interpretations of classic spirits as well as original beverages. Including bartenders and beverage professionals is a way of including all levels of the spirits world in the collaboration process. Theo himself is involved with each distiller and project.
Daisy Merrick, formerly of Chambers Street Wines, founded Soma Vines as a import and distribution company in Berlin in 2018. In 2020 she partnered with Antoine Lucchesi, who most recently was working at Domaine Brand, to create a negociant project. They have plans to own their own vineyards in the near future. Daisy’s sister (who works in the industry here in Brooklyn) designed the labels.
Daisy and Antoine are very grateful to their friends at Weingut Mann, who let Soma Vines use their cellar in Rheinhessen. They purchase grapes from winemaker friends in Alsace and Rheinhessen, starting in 2022 they started buying only within Germany. The purchased grapes are certified organic and some friends use biodynamic practices. All wines are native yeast fermented, unfined, unfiltered, and there is no additional SO2. Zero zero on all cuvées.
Weingut Mann is a small winery from Eckelsheim in “Rheinhessen Switzerland”—a little-known circle of wine villages fanning out south of Wöllstein that have steep hillsides and forested summits. Andreas Mann cultivates around 10 hectares of vineyards and tries to do it as holistically as possible. His wines are always a representation of nature, and the character of each wine is created in the vineyard.
Bianka and Daniel took over the Weingut Schmitt in 2012 as the fourth generation to lead the winery. They are based in Wonnegau in the south Rheinhessen, centered in Flörsheim-Dalsheim. All of the vineyards are in Flörsheim-Dalsheim and neighbor villages Monsheim and Kriegsheim. Bianka and Daniel have been working their 16 hectares biodynamically for over a decade and are one of only 80 producers in Germany to be Demeter certified. They work with amphorae as well as used oak barrels and release a ‘Natur’ line that contains no added sulphur.
Here are Bianka and Daniel in their own words:
“Working biodynamically is a lifestyle that includes producing and spreading preparations in the vineyards as well as social interactions. The interactions between the life in the soil (like bacteria, mykorizen, plants as green cover and the vines) are composed with each other. Vines become stronger and get more vitality from a living soil, not from chemical treatments.
This active interaction in the soil life, the mutual strengthening of the plants result in stronger resilience for the vines which reflects the high quality of the grape, supports the presence of the individual soil types (calcareous soil covered by clay and partly loess, pebble). By working according to the biodynamic principles, biodiversity is supported as an automatic successor. As a result, the vineyards and the biotopes created by Bianka and Daniel offer a home for a diverse and local animal community.
After hand picking, the grapes are processed with or without skin maceration. And rest in wooden oaks (5000L, 3000L, 1200L, 600L) or clay amphorae (1200L, 300L) for at least 12 months on the whole yeast depot. The focus is on offering an optimal aging potential for the years to come.
In order to support the collegial exchange and to enable operational training in the field of biodynamic agriculture, Bianka and Daniel and their winery are proud members of the Renaissance des Appellations, Demeter and Vinnatur associations.”