Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Vineyard Walk, Cellar Tour and Wine Tasting at Weingut Künstler – Germany-North Tour by ombiasy WineTours (2014)

Picture: Wine Tasting with Stefan Traub at Weingut Künstler in Hochheim

While I were drinking wine for dinner at home with my parents, I got serious about wine, when I studied and taught at the University of Mainz in Mainz between 1973 and 1983. I was joined on that path by my then girlfriend and later wife Annette, who I met and got married to in Mainz.

Picture: Gunter Künstler and Annette Schiller in Wiesbaden

Picture: Gunter Künstler and Christian Schiller in Hattenheim

Picture: The Late Franz Künstler and Annette Schiller in Hochheim

Hochheim, where Weingut Franz Künstler is based, is very close to Mainz and my wife and I developed a special relationship with the winemakers of Hochheim, when we lived in Mainz. That was boosted by the Weinfreundeskreis Hochheim – a wine brotherhood – whose founding members Franz Künstler, my wife and I are.

Against this background, the visit of Weingut Künstler in Hochheim during the Germany-North Wine Tour by ombiasy (2014) was a very special one. Gunter Künstler, who currently runs and owns Weingut Künstler, was not around but in Berlin at a major VDP event.

We were ably hosted by Stefan Traub and we met winemaker Rolf Schlegel in the vineyard during our vineyard visit.

We started out with a walk in the vineyard, just across the street of the Künstler Estate. Stefan then showed us around in the winery, where they were just bottling. The visit ended with an amazing tasting of the Künstler wines.


Hochheim is at the eastern edge of the Rheingau, well know around the world for its Riesling wines. Moving from Hochheim to the west, the fairly flat, dimpled landscape evolves into progressively steep slopes. It is a quietly beautiful region, rich in tradition. Queen Victoria's enthusiasm for Hochheim's wines contributed to their popularity in England, where they, and ultimately, Rhine wines in general, were referred to as Hock.

The third President of the USA - and notable bon viveur - Thomas Jefferson visited the Rheingau in 1788 and wrote that the wine of the "Abbaye of Johnsberg is the best made on the Rhine without comparison … That of the year 1775 is the best." He also referred to the Rheingau’s Riesling as the "small and delicate Rhysslin which grows only from Hochheim to Rudesheim". Impressed by the quality of the Rheingau Riesling wines, he bought 100 grapevines in Hochheim to take back to his estate in Virginia.

Pictures: Vineyard Tour

Weingut Franz Künstler

Weingut Franz Künstler is one of Germany’s world class wine producers. It has 5 F’s (out of 5) in the Feinschmecker WeinGuide ranking. The estate is currently owned and run by Gunter Künstler, who took over from his father Franz a number of years ago. Basically, until the late 1980s Franz was in charge and from the early 1990s on, the Künstler wines were made by Gunter. Before founding his own winery in 1965, Franz Künstler worked for other wineries in Hochheim for 15 years.

The wine growing tradition of the Künstler family can be traced back to Southern Moravia in 1648. After the Second World War, the Künstlers had to leave their home in what is now the Czech Republic and the head of the family, Franz Künstler, laid the foundations in Hochheim for what was to become one of the most successful family businesses in the Rheingau.

Pictures: Cellar Tour

I remember very well the small row house in Hochheim that was the initial home of the Kuenstler winery. And I remember very well the wonderful tastings we had at the Kuenstler estate. All my life I have been buying Künstler wines and there is quite a number of Künstler bottles in my wine cellar in McLean, Virginia.

Gunter Künstler bought the Geheimrat Aschrott'sche Erben wine estate in Hochheim in 1996 and in doing so acquired a major share in the very best vineyard locations in Hochheim (12 hectares). A few years ago, as another giant leap, the Künstler estate moved into the former Burgeff Sektkellerei, just at the entrance of Hochheim, when you come from Mainz. It is very impressive.

Most recently, Gunter Künstler started a cooperation with a winemaker in Rüdesheim and began to offer wines from vineyards in Rüdesheim. This cooperation, however, is coming to an end.

The vineyard area totals 40 hectares in the Domdechaney, Herrnberg, Hölle, Kirchenstück, Reichestal, Stein and Stielweg (Hochheim) as well as Weiß Erd (Kostheim), excluding vineyards in Rüdesheim. Riesling accounts for the bulk of it (33 hectares) but there is also Spätburgunder, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.

Winemaking: Gunter Künstler, Rolf Schregel
Marketing: Gregor Breuer, Monika Künstler, Stefan Traub
Production: 20000 cases

Pictures: Wine Tasting

The Wines we Tasted

In the USA, Gunter Künstler just changed the importer (I reported about this here: ) and is now part of the Terry Theise/Michael Skurnik Portfolio. We tasted the wines on the list below ... and a few more.

2009 Riesling Sekt brut
2013 Hochheimer Stilweg Riesling Alte Reben trocken
2012 Rüdesheimer Bischofsberg Riesling Alte Reben trocken
2013 Kostheimer Weiss Erd Riesling VDP.Grosse Lage GG trocken
2013 Hochheimer Kirchenstück Riesling VDP.Grosse Lage GG trocken
2008 Hochheimer Hölle Riesling Erstes Gewächs trocken
2012 Rüdesheimer Berg Rottland Riesling VDP.Grosse Lage GG trocken
2013 Grüner Veltliner trocken
2012 Chardonnay Kalkstein
2013 Rüdesheimer Berg Roseneck Riesling Spätlese

schiller-wine: Related Postings

4 Wine Tours by ombiasy coming up in 2015: Germany-East, Germany-South. Germany-Nord and Bordeaux

Germany-North Wine Tour by ombiasy, 2014

Germany-South Wine Tour by ombiasy, 2014

Weingut Pawis (Saale Unstrut): Estate Tour and Wine Tasting with Kerstin Pawis – Germany-North Wine Tour by ombiasy (2014)

Weingut Kloster Pforta: Vineyard Tour, Cellar Tour and Tasting with Managing Director Christian Kloss – Germany-North Wine Tour by ombiasy (2014)

Winzerhof Gussek in the Saale Unstrut Region: Cellar Tour, Vineyard Tour and Tasting with Owner and Winemaker André Gussek – Germany-North Wine Tour by ombiasy (2014)

Tour and Tasting at the Historic Weingut Juliusspital in Würzburg, Franken – Germany-North Wine Tour by ombiasy (2014)

Weingut Bickel-Stumpf in Franken: Vineyard Walk and Wine Tasting with Reimund Stumpf, Matthias Stumpf and Melanie Stumpf-Kröger - Germany-North Wine Tour by ombiasy (2014)

Kiedrich: Visit of the Basilica of Saint Valentine and of Weingut Robert Weil - Germany-North Wine Tour by ombiasy (2014)

Kloster Eberbach in the Rheingau: Tour and Wine Tasting - Germany-North Wine Tour by ombiasy (2014)

Wining in the Steinberg Vineyard – Germany-North Wine Tour by ombiasy (2014)

Visit: Winzerhof Thörle in Saulheim, Rheinhessen – Germany-North Wine Tour by ombiasy (2014)

Wine Tasting at Weingut Kühling-Gillot in Bodenheim: Kühling-Gillot and Battenfeld-Spanier Wines – Germany-North Wine Tour by ombiasy (2014)

schiller-wine: Related Postings (Künstler)

Weingut Franz Kuenstler, Hochheim, Rheingau, Joins Terry Theise Portfolio, USA/Germany

Germany's Top 18 Winemakers - Feinschmecker WeinGuide 2013

Kuenstler, Meyer-Naekel, Wirsching – Winemaker Dinner at Kronenschlösschen in Hattenheim, Rheingau, Germany

The Wines of Franz Kuenstler from Hochheim, Rheingau, Germany

Franz Kuenstler, Founder of the Renown Franz Kuenstler Estate in Hochheim, Rheingau, Germany, dies at Age 84

Franz Kuenstler, the founder of the Weingut Franz Kuenstler, was awarded an Honorary Lifetime Membership of the Weinfreundeskreis Hochheim, Germany

Wine Video: German Top Wine Maker Gunter Kuenstler interviewed by Hendrik Thoma

World Class Wines in Hochheim, Rheingau, Germany - Weingut Kuenstler

Five Hochheim (Rheingau) Winemakers Presented their Vintage 2011 Wines in Hochheim, Germany

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