NOT DRINKING POISON
NOT DRINKING POISON Podcast
Ep. 15: Hannah Fuellenkemper of Abracadabra
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Ep. 15: Hannah Fuellenkemper of Abracadabra

From the USA to the UK to Amsterdam to Auvergne. A chat with the plucky, well-traveled American natural wine négociant.
Transcript

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Hannah Fuellenkemper at her makeshift cellar in Saint-Privat-du-Dragon in August 2022.

In Auvergne, the winemakers are very independent. I don't know if it's the Auvergne that makes you like this or if it's the people. Because not a lot of the winemakers in the Auvergne are actually from the Auvergne. They come from somewhere else and I think maybe they come to a place like this because they like to be alone. - Hannah Fuellenkemper

There are, I often say, two ways to fall in love with natural wine, not mutually exclusive. One is to learn about it, taste widely, and begin buying it in favor of all other sorts of wine. The other is to find yourself rearranging your whole life so as to be able to make your own natural wine. Hannah Fuellenkemper, a peripatetic American natural wine négociant now finally somewhat settled in the Auvergne, is a poster-woman for this latter way of falling in love with natural wine.

Born in Germany, raised between the USA and England, Fuellenkemper obtained a law degree in Amsterdam before discovering an interest in natural wine at the city’s wine bars. She followed her muse to wine salons in France and a revelatory experience harvesting with the Cousin family in Anjou in 2017. She interned for Manuel di Vecchi Staraz at Vinyer de la Ruca in Banyuls before moving her base to the Ardèche, where for several seasons she worked on and off for the regions’ natural vignerons, including Sylvain Bock and Andrea Calek / Stephana Nicolescu. In 2019 she did a season of work in the Loire for François Saint-Lô; the same year, she began making a small quantity of her own négociant wine.

Following a series of precarious and improvised cellar situations around Auvergne, Fuellenkemper at last established a stable cellar rental this year near the town of Brioudes. In 2023 she produced an impressive 10’000 bottles of her radically handmade natural négociant wines1, sourced chiefly from the south of France,2 and recognizable by the paint spatters they bear in lieu of front labels. Fuellenkemper and I met in 2018 and soon began exchanging wine tips, crash pads, and winemaking labor in the course of our travels around France. I caught up with her in December 2023 as she headed home to America for the holidays. Check out the episode for Fuellenkemper’s memories of sleeping in a cave in Berrie; her list of emergency kit survival items for rural French life; and her experiences with Tinder in Auvergne.

Aaron

This is a free episode of the NOT DRINKING POISON podcast. For access to all the episodes - plus years of vigneron interviews, profiles, tasting reports, and commentary - please subscribe!


FURTHER READING & LISTENING

NDP Podcast Series III: Les Emigré(e)s - Expat Natural Winemakers in France
Ep. 14: Katie Worobeck of Maison Maenad
Ep. 16: Joe Jefferies of Les Bories Jefferies
Ep. 17: Jon Purcell of Vin Noé
Ep. 18: Michele Smith-Chapel of Domaine Chapel

The Art of Aurelien Lefort

NDP Podcast Series I: Paris Natural Wine Lifers, Part I
NDP Podcast Series I: Paris Natural Wine Lifers, Part II

NDP Podcast Series II: Contemporary Paris Natural Wine, Part I
NDP Podcast Series II: Contemporary Paris Natural Wine, Part II

1

Fuellenkemper also farms a small, extremely low-yielding plot of pinot noir (with handfuls of gamay and chardonnay) in Auvergne near the vines of her friend Aurelien Lefort. Last year she also began collaborating with former Saint Eutrope server Victor Dos Santos on the cultivation of 0.3ha near Clermont-Ferrand.

2

The 2021 and 2022 vintages saw Fuellenkemper seek grapes further afield, including from Catalonia and Piedmont.

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NOT DRINKING POISON
NOT DRINKING POISON Podcast
Natural wine culture, by Aaron Ayscough. Reporting from Paris since 2010. Roughly a third of this podcast is available for free. For access to the other episodes - and to heaps of wine interviews, profiles, translations, commentary, and more - subscribe to