Tuesday, July 20, 2010

German Wine Makers in the World: Karl Heinz Johner in New Zealand

Picture: Karl Heinz Johner

German Wine Makers in the World: Karl Heinz Johner in New Zealand

Karl Heinz Johner is owner of and wine maker at the Johner Estate in New Zealand. He also owns Weingut Karl Heinz Johner in Germany, in the Baden region. Both Estates are co-owned with his son Patrick Johner, who also is a wine maker and a Web 2.0 leader in the German wine industry. Patrick focuses on the German operation, while Karl Heinz is in the lead in New Zealand.

Karl Heinz Johner in New Zealand and Germany

Karl Heinz Johner was born in Germany. He studied Oenology and Viticulture in Geisenheim, Germany, and graduated from there in 1973. He then spent many years in England, making wines at the Lamberhurst Vneyard in Kent. I fact, he was one of the first, if not the first to produce English sparkler, which are increasingly gaining international recognition. In 1985, Karl Heinz Johner and his wife Irene returned to Germany, when their son and their daughter had to go to school,. They founded a little Weingut in their home village Bischoffingen in Baden. The Karl Heinz Johner Weingut quickly established itself as a top wine producer in Germany.

Today, Weingut Karl Heinz Johner has 3 Gault Millau Grapes. It is however no longer managed by Karl Heinz; his son Patrick is in the lead there, assisted by his mother. Karl Heinz manages the Johner Estate in New Zealand, where he spends a large part of the year.

Johner Estate is outside of Masterton in the northern Wairarapa Valley. Wairarapa is a young wine growing region north of Wellington. The Johner Estate has planted 8 hectares of various Pinot Noir clones, originally selected in Burgundy, 3 hectares of Sauvignon Blanc and a further hectare of 10 trial Varieties ranging from Pinot Gris to Syrah.

Picture: New Zealand's wine regions

Among the factors that contribute to the high quality of the Johner Estate wines, the following should be mentioned: alluvial free draining gravel, a cool maritime climate, low rainfall, high density planting (2000 vines/acre), open cultivation, an intense vine tending and green harvest, and very low yields.

This year, for the first time, the New Zealand Johner Estate was included in Mathew Luke’s Classification of New Zealand’s Top 60 Pinot Noir producers. See more here.

Son Patrick Johner in Germany

Karl Heinz’s son Patrick focuses on the German operations, including selling the New Zealnd wines in Germany. I first got in touch with him through the internet, where he is one of the driving forces in Germany’s wine industry. Earlier this year, he organized a fascinating twitter wine tasting on Ustream.tv with a Skype connection to Karl Heinz in New Zealand.

First, there was Patrick Johner sitting in the office of his winery in Baden, Germany, behind a monitor and with a head set on his head. He was orchestrating the whole show and broadcasting live through Ustream.tv. Second, Patrick was connected via Skype with his father Karl Heinz in New Zealand, who was also on-line. During the show, with his lap –top, connected to Ustream.tv via Skype , Karl H. Johner was walking in the vineyard showing us the grapes, then showing us his cellar and finally also drinking the wine, while commenting on questions and remarks. Amazing pictures! Third, there were the viewers like me. Many of the viewers had ordered the wine before the show and were tasting with Patrick Johner and his father the Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand. The viewers were watching and hearing the father in New Zealand in one window of the screen and Patrick in Baden in another window. They were all in their twitter accounts and sending out notes and questions via twitter. We were all reading the tweets, including Patrick Johner. He would select the more interesting ones and share them with his father. Then, his father would answer from New Zealand or Patrick would answer from Germany. All this was streamed live on Ustream.tv.

Johner Estate, New Zealand

Weingut Karl Heinz Johner, Germany

This is part of the series German wine makers in the world:

Wolf Blass in Australia

Swiss-German Donald Hess, US, Argentina, Chile, South Africa, Australia

Hermann J. Wiemer, Finger Lakes, US

Anton (Antoine) Mueller, 1800s,France,

Dr. Konstantin Frank, 1900s,USA

Christian Woelffer and Roman Roth, USA

Robert Anton Schlumberger, 1800s, Austria

Robert Stemmler, USA

Eduard Werle, 1800s, France

German Winemakers in the World: Johann Schiller in Canada

California Wine Pioneer Walter Schug: From Assmannshausen in the Rheingau to Carneros in California

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