Thursday, December 9, 2010

Germany's Top 16 Winemakers - Feinschmecker WeinGuide 2011

Picture: Christian G.E.Schiller with Ernst Loosen in New York City in 2010

Der Feinschmecker, the leading German wine and food journal, presented its new ranking of the German wine scene with the release of its December 2010 monthly issue, Der Feinschmecker WeinGuide 2011. Importantly, the top category of winemakers with 5 Fs (Feinschmeckers) has increased to 16, with nobody being downgraded and Nahe star winemaker Weingut Emmerich Schoenleber elevated to the top rank.

The Feinschmecker Weinguide 2011 includes the 800 top winemakers of Germany; 16 of them are in the top category of 5 Fs. 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 Fs. Here are those winemakers that got in the Feinschmecker Weinguide 2011 the maximum number of 5 Fs, grouped by wine region.






Rudolf Fuerst

Weingut Rudolf Fuerst has the reputation of being a specialist for red wines, Spaetburgunder and Fruehburgunder, which account for 60% of the production; but brilliant dry wines are also produced. 19.2 hectares.

Horst Sauer

Weingut Horst Sauer is well known for his noble-sweet wines, but the Sauers also produces top dry wines, from Silvaner and Riesling. 15.7 hectares.

Picture: Horst Sauer in Berlin in 2010

Hessische Bergstrasse





Fritz Haag

Weingut Fritz Haag produces a broad range of styles, from dry to lusciously noble sweet wines. 15 hectares.


A wine estate in the Ruwer valley, with a long tradition and an exciting history, now led by Christoph Tyrell; he has focused on carefully crafted dry wines. 19 hectares.

Dr. Loosen

Run and owned by one of the most entrepreneurial German winemakers, Ernst Loosen; in addition to producing outstanding wines in Germany, he makes the famous Eroica in Washington State and imports the hugely popular Dr. L into the American market. 22 hectares.

Egon Mueller - Scharzhof

The legendary Scharzhof lies on the Saar river. Egon Mueller’s fruity sweet and noble sweet, low alcohol wines are a legend. 16 hectares.

Picture: Egon Mueller at the 1. International Riesling Symposium in 2010

Joh. Jos. Pruem

For decades now, one of the really exceptional wine makers in Germany. The aging potential of the Weingut J.J. Pruem wines is legendary. 21 hectares.

Picture: Katharina Pruem in Berlin in 2010

Sankt Urbans Hof

A rather young wine estate that was established about 50 years ago. It is now owned and run by the founder’s grandson, Nik Weis. Most of the elegant, fine and light wines are exported. 30 hectares.

Picture: Christian G.E. Schiller and Nik Weis in Berlin in 2010

C.v. Schubert’sche Schlosskellerei

A rather large wine estate in the Ruwer valley, known for its outstanding dry and fruity sweet Rieslings.. 31 hectares.


Herrmann Doennhoff

A leading producer of Riesling wines, including noble-sweet Rieslings. . Owner and winemaker Helmut Doennhoff is a Grand Seigneur of German wine. 25 hectares.

Picture: Christian G.E.Schiller and Helmut Doennhoff in Mainz in 2010


Werner Schoenleber has invested a great deal of personal dedication and his promotion to the top rank is definitely warranted. His wines are known to be rich in character and highly esteemed worldwide. 17 hectares.

Picture: Werner Schoenleber in Mainz in 2010



A world class producer of both dry white and red wines. Werner Knipser has been experimenting with international red grape varieties for some years. Virtually all wines are fermented in a dry style. 40 hectares.



Gunter Kuesntler’s wine taps the immense potential of the geological and climatic conditions around Hochheim. ¾ of the vineyard qualify for the Erstes Gewaechs (Grand Cru) classification. 30 hectares.

Picture: Christian G.E. and Annette Schiller with Gunter Kuenstler in Hochheim in 2009

Robert Weil

A top producer of Riesling wines, in particular fruity sweet and noble sweet wines, which is well presented in the major wine markets in the world. By far the largest winery among the Feinschmecker top wine makers and one of the largest wineries in Germany. Owned by the Japanese Suntory company and Wilhelm Weil, the fourth generation of the founding family. 75 hectares.

Picture: Jancis Robinson and Wilhelm Weil at the 1. International Riesling Symposium in 2010



Leader of the Rheinhessen wine renaissance. Has a broad wine portfolio with 60 % accounted for by Riesling and also including the lesser known autochthon Silvaner as well as Spaetburgunder. 15 hectares.


Leader of the Rheinhessen wine renaissance. Since 2003 only biodynamic wine growing. A broad portfolio with 60% Riesling and also Silvaner and Spaetburgunder. Known for his outstanding dry wines. 25 hectares.

Picture: Christian G.E.Schiller with Philipp Wittmann in Mainz in 2010







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