I grow my wines in the south of Heidelberg, in the middle
of the Großlage (collective site) called Mannaberg, on a
gentle slope facing southwest. The names of my sites are
Heidelberger Burg and Heidelberger Herrenberg. An
analysis of the soil which is done every three years shows
that it predominantly consists of loess ( a fine- grained
accumulation of clay and silt particles that have been
deposited by the wind). This analysis is important to
ensure that the vines get exactly those fertilizers they need
to produce the highest-quality healthy grapes possible.
This soil gives my wine its distinctive character.
Three grape varieties are grown in my vineyard: Müller-Thurgau,
Riesling and Weißer Burgunder (Pinot Blanc). It was the Weißer
Burgunder that already won renown for my grandfather years
ago. And it is he, too, to whom I owe my passion for
My total vineyard area is a little less than one hectare.
From this I produce about 5,000 litres of wine, 90 percent
of which belong to the classification Kabinett or even to a
A Kabinett wine is the “most honest“, as the experts
say. It usually has less alcohol and for quality wines of this
category and upwards the German Wine Law does not
allow chaptalization, i.e. enrichment by adding sugar, in
case the must weight should ever be unsatisfactory ...
Quality begins in the vineyard, is created in the winery and ends
with bottling the wine.
Each of my vines has known me personally since being planted. I
visit them several times a year.
A winemaker’s year begins with pruning, which lasts from the
late winter months until early spring. Each of my vines is
invariably pruned to only one cane, because this is where
determining wine quality begins. Then the canes are arched in the
middle over a wire, which ensures that the sap of the vine
reaches all buds evenly. During the main period of growth well
into the summer the new shoots have to be put back into the
trellis system again and again so they won’t be torn off by the
tractor when I have to drive between rows.
Of course I practise integrated production (similar to sustainable
viticulture as practised in the USA). I let the grass grow between
the rows and regularly cut and use it as green manure. By this
time of the year I have received the results of the soil analysis
from the lab and can now start fertilizing properly according to
the time of the year and quantity.
“The vineyard wants to see its master every day!“ my
grandfather used to say in his days. Thanks to modern
viticulture this is no longer necessary. There is no need for
the big spraying attack just because a single leaf is affected
by disease. I like to treat the vines several times with a
milder spray instead of using powerful chemicals a few
If there still are too many grapes on a single vine although
each vine has been pruned back to a single cane, the
strenuous work of controlling yield by crop thinning
begins. Because the maximum yields I am permitted by
law are 90 litres per are. This means I simply cut off the
grapes I don’t need. Only this way I manage to produce
wine of convincing quality.
In fall I decide myself when it is time to pick, because I
don’t belong to a co-operative that prescribes the timing
of harvest. This is the climax of a winemaker’s year and
now the whole family as well as friends and other people I
know will help. I usually pick each parcel twice so that I
can harvest the grapes according to their individual degree
of ripeness. The best point to choose is when there is a
harmonious balance of acidity and alcohol.
Of course my grapes are picked by hand. Many tests
show that anything but the most careful handling of the fruit
will hurt the grapes and wine quality. The grapes are
destemmed so the tannins contained in the stems do not
get into the must. This is where the state authorities come
in again - I have to send a detailed harvest report to the
state wine research institute in Freiburg, and at the same
time I have to keep a meticulous cellar record with entries
for each operation in the cellar so that the official inspector
who can inspect the cellar any time without warning is able
to check each step in the making of my wine.
I use stainless steel tanks for both fermentation and aging,
which allows me to produce 100% varietal wines. There is
no light, smell or taste that could influence the fermenting
and aging process and no evaporation is possible. But
most important of all: these tanks are easy to clean and
there is no risk of bacteria.
The same vineyard, the same grapes and still the wine
tastes different every year, and this a good thing.
I don’t want my wines to always taste the same. I’m
sure our Lord knows what he‘s doing. And if he decides
to let it grow that way, I’m not going to meddle in his
affairs by using any dubious means or substances. Sulphur,
however, I can’t do without. But no more than necessary
for preserving the wine. See for yourself and compare the
results of analyzing my wines with those of other wines.
Know your wine!
Now the winemaker is standing in front of the big barrel
addressing his wine:
“Prisoner, do not despair, your liberator has
The moment has come when winter is over and it is getting a little
warmer in my vaulted cellar, too, in say late May or early June.
Again the whole family is put to work when the wine is bottled.
Weeks before bottles were bought and some thought was given
to which bottle goes with which wine. Equally important is the
quality of the cork: it determines the potential life of the wine.
Corks must be branded and marked with the bottler’s
numerical code so the origin of the wine can at all times be
determined. Know your wine!
After each bottling one sample of each wine is sent to a food
analyst who makes an analysis on behalf of the state authorities.
The analysis report is then sent together with three sample bottles
to the above-mentioned wine institute in Freiburg to apply for the
AP number (Amtliche Prüfungsnummer), which appears on the
label of every bottle and allows me to offer the wine for sale. At
the institute my wine is tested by a panel of expert tasters
applying the senses of sight, smell and taste (eye, nose and
mouth). Only after passing the test and if it actually meets the
criteria for its classification may the wine be sold. The AP
number is like a car license number. So you, the consumers, are
on the safe side, two of the samples of the wine I submitted to
the institute are kept there for years making it possible for you to
compare it with the wine you purchased and drank.
While one year’s vintage isn’t even bottled yet, the new
season’s pruning work in the vineyard is already done. A
winemaker’s year passes so quickly!
What is different about my wines? Everything is in the same
hands! You can be sure - you know your wine - that every drop
comes from this particular vineyard. You can tell by experiencing
that my wine won‘t give you a hangover even if you’ve had a
drop too many. Just imagine - the vines of my Weißer Riesling,
my rarity, were planted as early as before World War II and as a
little boy I helped plant most of my Weißer Burgunder. And
everybody knows that the older the vine the smaller the yield but
the better the quality.