Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Germany's 15 Top Winemakers - The Feinschmecker WeinGuide 2010

Picture: Gunter Kuenstler with Christian G.E. and Annette Schiller

The Feinschmecker Wine Guide includes the 800 top winemakers of Germany. To put the Feinschmecker selection of the top 800 winemakers of Germany into perspective, the German wine industry consists of many small wine producers, totaling about 70.000. If you exclude the about 40.000 operators of less than 0.5 hectare who should probably be classified as hobby winemakers, you are down to 30.000 wine makers.

Then, it gets a bit complicated. Many smaller winemakers do not pursue wine making as a full-time occupation, but rather as a supplement to other agriculture or to hospitality. It is not uncommon that a small family-owned tavern or restaurant has its own wine. If we move up to a minimum of 5 hectares, we get down to about 6.000 wineries, accounting for about 60 percent of Germany's total vineyard surface, and it is in this category that the full-time winemakers are primarily found. However, truly large wineries, in terms of their own vineyard holdings, are rare in Germany. Hardly any German wineries reach the size of New World wine making companies.

The Feinschmecker uses a scale of 1 to 5 F’s. The Feinschmecker Wine Guide has the reputation of being very conservative. It takes a while, until new comers are recognized and it takes a while until well established and highly rated wine makers that slow down are downgraded. Eichelmann and Gault Millau Wine Guide are much more flexible.

Here are those winemakers that got in the 2010 Feinschmecker's Wine Guide the maximum number of 5 F’s, grouped by wine region. I have indicated their size in terms of hectares, the rating in the Gault Millau 2010 Wine Guide (ranging from 1 to 5 Grapes) and their web site.




None (In the Gault Millau, Bernhard Huber is a 5 Grapes winemaker; in the Feinschmecker ranking, he is not in the top category and has 4 F’s).


Rudolf Fuerst

4 Grapes Gault Millau (Gault Millau has no 5 Grapes winemaker in Franken)

17.6 hectares

Rudolf Fuerst has reputation of being a specialist for red wines, Spaetburgunder and Fruehburgunder, but about half of the production is white wine.

Horst Sauer

4 Grapes Gault Millau

15.1 hectares

Horst Sauer is well known for his noble-sweet wines, but he also produces top dry wines. His 2008 Grosses Gewaechs Silvaner and Grosses Gewaechs Riesling wines are outstanding.

Hessische Bergstrasse




Picture: Germany's Wine Regions


Fritz Haag

5 Grapes Gault Millau (the other 2 winemakers in the Mosel region in the 5 Grapes category are Egon Mueller and J.J. Pruem)

14 hectares

Fritz’s son Oliver Haag is producing world class wines in the dry, sweet and noble-sweet categories.


3 Grapes Gault Millau (downgraded from 4 Grapes to 3 Grapes in 2010)

19 hectares

A wine estate in the Ruwer valley, with a long tradition and an exciting history. Has been downgraded to 3 Grapes by Gault and Millau.

Dr. Loosen

18 hectares

4 Grapes Gault Millau (lost one Grape in 2010)

Run and owned by one of the most entrepreneurial German winemakers, Ernst Loosen, who is very active in the world wine industry; he makes the famous Eroica in Washington State and imports the hugely popular Dr. L into the American market, a wine completely unheard of in Germany.

Egon Mueller

12 hectares

5 Grapes Gault Millau

Egon Mueller’s sweet and noble sweet low alcohol wines are a legend.

Joh. Jos. Pruem

22 hectares

5 Grapes Gault Millau

For decades now, one of the really exceptional wine makers in Germany.

Sankt Urbans Hof

32 hectares

4 Grapes Gault Millau

A rather young wine estate that was established about 50 years ago. It is now owned and run by Nik Weis.

C.v. Schubert’sche Schlosskellerei

31 hectares

3 Grapes Gault and Millau

One of the wine makers where there is a significant discrepancy between the Feinschmecker and Gault Millau. A rather large wine estate in the Ruwer valley.


Herrmann Doenhoff

20 hectares

Along with Emrich-Schoenleber, one of the two 5 Grapes Gault and Millau winemaker in the Nahe region.

20 hectares

A leading producer of Riesling wines, including noble-sweet wines. A Grand Seigneur of German wine.



A world class producer of both dry white and red wines. Knipser has been experimenting with international red grape varieties for some years. For the Gault and Millau, however, Oekonomierat Rebholz is the leading producer in the Pfalz with 5 Grapes; Knipser is only in the 4 Grapes group.

40 hectares


Franz Kuenstler

Robert Weil is the only 5 Gault Millau Grapes wine maker in the Rheingau. Franz Kuenstler is among the several 3 Gault Millau Grapes winemakers.

30 hectares

Another winemaker, where the Feinschmecker and Gault Millau can not agree. The estate is currently run by Gunter Kuenstler and was founded by Franz Kuenstler after the Second World War.

Robert Weil

5 Gault Millau Grapes

75 hectares, by far the largest winery among the Feinschmecker top wine makers

A winery with a long tradition, now owned by Wilhelm Weil and the Japanese Suntory company. A top producer of Riesling wines, which is well presented in the major wine markets in the world.



5 Grapes Gault and Millau

15 hectares

With Wittmann, leader of the Rheinhessen renaissance. Has a broad wine portfolio with 60 % accounted for by Riesling and also including the lesser known autochthon Silvaner as well as Spaetburgunder


4 Grapes Gault and Millau

25 hectares

Since 2003 only biodynamic wine growing. A broad portfolio with 60% Riesling and also Silvaner and Spaetburgunder. Known for his outstanding dry wines. With Dr. Loosen on the 2009 Wine Spectator Top 100 List.







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