Sunday, June 13, 2010

A Wine Feast in the Rheingau, Germany: The Grand Wine Convention 2010

Picture: Zum Krug in Hattenheim, Rheingau, Germany

Picture: Christian G.E.Schiller with Rheingau Wine Queens and Princesses in Hattenheim, Summer 2010

The Rheingau Grand Wine Convention (Grosse Konventstage des Rheingauer Weinkonvents), the annual gathering of Rheingau wine freaks, took place on June 2 to 5, 2010. These were 4 interesting and entertaining days in the heart of the Rheingau wine region, which is home for great Rieslings, but also for other wines.

Picture: The Rheingau


A tour of the Eberbach Abbey, followed by a walk to the Steinberg vineyard and a visit in the new winery of the Hessische Staatsweingüter.

The Eberbach Abbey is a former Cistercian monastery in the Rheingau, Germany. Its Romanesque and Gothic buildings are impressive. It was founded in 1136 by Bernard of Clairvaux as the first Cistercian monastery on the east bank of the Rhine. The vineyards of Eberbach Abbey were, at 300 hectares, the largest in medieval Europe. Most of them are now the property of the State of Hessen and are run by the Hessische Staatsweingüter.

Picture: Eberbach Abbey

The Steinberg is a 32.4 hectares (80 acres) wall-enclosed vineyard in walking distance of the Eberbach Abbey. It is the largest wall-enclosed vineyard in Germany. It is owned by the Hessische Staatsweingüter and is planted only with Riesling vines. The favorite site of the monks, they built a 4 meter (13ft) wall around the vineyard to keep out thieves. This and its Cistercian heritage give Steinberg a distinct similarity to the famed Clos De Vougeot in Bourgogne in neigbouring France.

Picture: Steinberg

The new Steinbergkeller – the new state of the art winery of the Hessische Staatsweingueter - was a very controversial project. It was constructed for several 100 million Euro just outside of the Steinberg a few years ago. We toured the winery and tasted a dry and a sweet Steinberger Riesling and a Assmannshaeuser Hoellenberg Pinot Noir.

Pictures: Steinbergkellerei


Opening Ceremony of the 2010 Rheingau Grand Convention at the Wine Cooperative Weinland Rheingau in Eltville-Erbach, with a Sekt reception and a walk-around tasting with wines of the 7 Rheingau Wine Cooperatives.

Wine Cooperatives account for a significant proportion of the total wine production in many major wine-producing countries, including most of the classical European wine countries, such as Germany.

In Germany, the earliest German winemaking Cooperatives date back to the 1800s. Prussia passed an association law (Genossenschaftsgesetz) in 1867, which became law in the entire North German Confederation in 1868. Two thirds of the 70.000 German vine-growers belong to a wine cooperative. Their production is one third of the German total. Cooperatives are particularly important in Baden, where they account for 85% of the production, Württemberg, and the smaller German wine regions Ahr, Hessische Bergstrasse, Saale-Unstrut and Saxony.


Wine Rendezvous of the Rheingau wine brotherhoods at the Hattenheim Castle. A joint summer party, organized by the Hochheimer Weinfreunde, the Rehingauer weinkonvent and the other wine brotherhoods of the Rheingau in conjunction junior winemakers from the Rheingau, pouring their wines. Many wine Queens and Princess honored us with their presence.

Picture: Hattenheim Castle


9:00 Lecture about Challenges of the Wine Industry at the Eberbach Abbey.

A very interesting and fascinating presentation by Prof. Dr. Schulz from the Geisenheim University. The bottom line is: it is gonna be warmer and dryer in 100 years and so, with a major impact on the wine industry. Everyone is talking about the carbon footprint, but the water footprint is equally, if not more important.

16.00 Investiture in der Basilique of Eberbach Abbey

18.00 Rustic dinner in the Dormitory

19.00 Winetasting – 18 wines of member winemakers and from the cellar of the Rheingau Wine Convention


Open wine cellars in Hattenheim, a cute little village with at least 3 top restaurants and about 20 wineries. About half of them opened their cellars for the members of the 2010 Rheingau Wine Convention.

Picture: Stefan Gerhard, Winemaker and "Ortslandwirt", Hattenheim Wine Queen Michaela I and Nadine Jaeger, General Manager of the Rheingau Wine Convention

Christian Haas, winemaker at Hattenheim’s 50 hectares , top wine Estate, VDP member Domaenenweingut Schloss Schoenborn, with 4 grapes Gault Millau, poured for us his wines. There is only one Estate ahead of Schoenborn in the Rheingau, Robert Weil, with 5 grapes Gault Millau.

Picture: Christian G.E.Schiller with Christian Haas

We were also very well treated by Norbert Barth, Stefan Ress and Johan Maximilian Lang.

Norbert Barth is owner and winemaker of the Barth Wein- and Sektgut. It is a 3 grapes Gault Millau, 15 hectares Estate, VDP member, which also produces sparkling wines, considered by many the best Sekt of Germany.

Picture: Norbert Barth

Johann Maximilian Lang is the owner and winemaker of Weingut Lang, VDP member, a 18 hectares, 2 grapes Gault Millau Estate. Weingut Lang is very much focusing on dry white Rieslings.

Picture: Christian G.E.Schiller with Johann Maximilian Lang

Stefan Ress, is the senior chef of Weingut Balthasar Ress, VDP member, a 42 hectares, 2 grapes Gault Millau Estate. This is one of the larger German producers, also very present in the American market.

POicture: Christian G.E.Schiller with Stefan Ress

Then, there was a handful of smaller, family owned and operated wineries: Stefan Gerhard, Leon Gerhard, Weingut Kopp, Dr. Christopher Wolf and Hans Bausch with Christoph Pesh, who is Bausch’s winemaker and also has started to produce his own wines. All these winemakers are in the about 5 hectares range and produce excellent artisanal wines, with a lot of enthusiasm, experience and expertise, and often following long family traditions. Their wines are typically not available in the international market, but they are worth visiting when you are in the region. It takes you back to the roots of winemaking. My cellar in Frankfurt is stocked with wines from Germany's top winemakers, but also with those exciting wines from smaller growers.

Weingut Leon Gerhard owns a bit less than 5 hectares, including parcels in all of Hattenheim's top vineyards. His daughter is this year's Wine Queen of Hattenheim. Werner Gerhard sells his Liter Wine for Euro 3.80.

Picture: Werner Gerhard

Werner Gerhard's cousin, Stefan Gerhard, has a bit more than 2 hectares. His flagship wine is a 2009 Hattenheimer Wisselbrunnen Riesling Erstes Gewaechs, which was harvested at 118 Oechsle, well into the Auslese range. But it was fully fermented and is bone-dry. Weingut Stefan Gerhard sells a lot of its wines in the US.

Picture: Christian G.E. Schiller with Stefan Gerhard

The smallest was Weingut Dr. Christopher Wolf, with about 1 hectare. The 45 minutes with Christian Wolf in his old cellar were fascinating. Dr. Christopher Wolf has two jobs. He has a full-time job as a medical doctor in a hospital in near-by Wiesbaden, and he is very successful entrepreneur and winemaker, rebuilding a winery since 2003 from the various pieces that were there in his family, when he decided to launch this wine endeavor. He is very passionate about his wines and does everything himself as far as possible, but supported by the whole family, including wife, mother, father and other family members.

Picture: Dr. Christopher Wolf

Weingut Hans Lang

Weingut Stefan Gerhard

Weingut Hans Bausch

Weingut Christoph Pesch

Weingut Balthasar Ress

Wein- und Sektgut Barth

Weingut Kopp

Weingut Dr. Christopher Wolf

Weingut Leon Gerhard

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