Saturday, November 7, 2009

German winemakers in the World: Robert Alwin Schlumberger--the father of Austrian Sekt (Austria)

Robert Alwin Schlumberger was born in Germany. He moved to France in connection with his job. There, he learned how to make fine Champagne. Love brought him then to Austria, where he founded a Sekt estate and became the “father” of the Austrian Sekt industry. For over 150 years Schlumberger has been producing their Sekts in the méthode champenoise. Today, Schlumberger is Austria’s most prestigious Sekt house.

Robert Alwin Schlumberger was born in Stuttgart, Germany in 1814. He became a merchant, which brought him one day to Reims in the Champagne, where he joined the oldest Champagne house of France, Ruinart Pere et Fils. There, he rose quickly to the position of cellar master.

In 1841, love hit him and decisively changed his life. He met a girl, Mathilde Kirchner, from Vienna, Austria, during a trip on the Rhine River and fell in love with her. Because the daughter’s parents did not agree to her daughter moving to France, he decided that he had to leave his well paid job at Ruinart Pere et Fils and follow his new love to Austria.

In Austria, he had the idea of producing sparkling wine using the French method but Austrian grapes. In 1842 Schlumberger founded his company and started production in Bad Voeslau, a small town south of Vienna, situated in a wine growing area, which in the view of Schlumberg had conditions that resembled those of the champagne region. In 1843, he married Mathilde Kirchner. Her parents were wealthy and influential, which also helped him in his business venture.

Schlumberger presented his first sparkling wine in 1846. “Schlumberg Champagner”, as his sparkler was called until the peace treaty of 1919. It quickly became the favorite drink of the Austrian high society. In 1878, one year before his death, Schlumberger was knighted and became Edler von Goldeck.

Today, Schlumberger is one of the leading producers of Sekt in Austria. In 1973, the company was taken over by the German Underberg company, which well known for producing a digestif bitter.

See also my posting of October 3, 2009 Wine region: Sekt from Austria

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