dieNikolai - Demeter, grapes, organic cosmetics and the English Royal Family
dieNikolai is the youngest offspring of Austria's oldest winery, the Nikolaihof Wachau. Built by the Romans almost 2,000 years ago, they have already been working according to the strict biodynamic Demeter guidelines for 45 years. Since 2016, the youngest son of the winegrowing family, Martin Saahs, has been processing the high-quality raw materials from their own vineyards into the organic grape cosmetics line "dieNikolai". We were allowed to accompany dieNikolai's exciting journey from the beginning and list the products in our Saint Charles Cosmothecary.
For our interview, we chatted with Martin about background, personal care tips, the future and history with Duchess Camilla.
Martin, how did you go from originally growing grapes to developing your own skincare line?
As the youngest of four children, I was always the one who wanted to go out into the world and could hardly imagine living and working here in the Wachau. But the more I travelled and travelled internationally for work, the more I understood how beautiful home actually is. In 2014, when the Nikolaihof winery received one of the highest awards you can receive for a wine worldwide, my brother asked me if I would like to come back. Briefly consulting with my wife, we quickly decided to go back to Nikolaihof. Together with my brother, we then looked for a way to work with our own Demeter raw materials from our vineyards, thus expanding the farm's product line. Since we knew about the special nature of grape seed oil, the decision was made, together with long-time friend Günter Stöffelbauer, who also had experience in the cosmetics industry, to develop the world's first Demeter-certified grape cosmetic.
What is the philosophy behind dieNikolai and what care does our skin actually need today?
In modern everyday life, our skin is exposed to many different substances and influences every day - sun exposure, air pollution, but also cosmetics play a role. In addition, we have the aspiration to stay fit into old age, we do sports, eat healthy and we want to look that way too. At dieNikolai, our philosophy is that we can support our skin with living ingredients and the pure power of nature. In addition, we make sure to use only a few different ingredients, but in higher concentrations, so as not to further stress the skin, which already comes into contact with many substances. For us, it is especially important to support our body and skin with living ingredients that are gently extracted and processed. And then, of course, it is important that the care is adapted to the individual needs and circumstances.
People are increasingly suffering from sensitive and irritated skin. What care do you advise here?
Generally, we have had the experience with all our products that they are particularly well tolerated and even people who previously had major problems feel completely at ease. One special product, for example, is our Intensive Serum, which consists of only four different ingredients and is therefore particularly pure. It supports the skin both when irritations already exist, but due to the high proportion of vitamin E it also helps preventively to support the skin, for example, against sun radiation.
Your personal tip to provide the skin with energy and strength again?
Here I have to answer very holistically: Balanced nutrition, sufficient exercise and drinking enough - it may also be a glass of wine - are important to maintain a beautiful skin appearance. A personal skin care routine can help to support the skin against the demands of everyday life. Personally, I do this depending on the season and use a richer skin care product in winter than in summer, for example.
We have heard that dieNikolai products have also found buyers in the British royal family. How did this come about?
We have my mother to thank for that. She was invited to the dinner at the Hofburg with Prince Charles, who has known and appreciated Nikolaihof for years, and HRH Camilla. Probably also because there were almost exclusively Demeter-quality drinks from the Nikolaihof winery that evening, there was a lot of talk about organic and biodynamic farming methods. In the course of such a conversation, my mother Duchess Camilla also told us about our world's first Demeter-certified grape cosmetics. She was so taken with it that she not only asked for the care products to be sent to her during the conversation, but at the end of the evening, shortly before leaving the Hofburg, she came back and asked my mother not to forget that she would like to have the entire dieNikolai line delivered to Buckingham Palace. Needless to say, this already made us very proud.
What is the brand's vision for the future? Where does theNikolai want to go?
dieNikolai will always be anhonest, Demeter-certified care line, made on the basis of Demeter raw materials from the Nikolaihof. So there are no plans to produce a large number of products for the supermarket. What we are already planning is to complete our line and thus be able to offer a complete assortment. There will be news about this from the Wachau soon. A goal, not to say a dream, that lies in the somewhat distant future is to open a dieNikolai Weingarten Spa where you can dive deep into the world of dieNikolai and enjoy the view over the Wachau and the beautiful blue Danube while enjoying a pampering treatment.
That sounds fantastic! We are looking forward to further collaborations and thank you for the interview!
All products of the Demeter certified skin care line dieNikolai are available in our Saint Charles Cosmothecary, as well as in the online shop of Saint Charles Apothecary.
Photo credit: Daniel Golner