Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Visiting Dade and Petra Thieriot and their Dee Vine Wines - Purveyors of Fine and Rare German Wines - in San Francisco, USA

Picture: Christian G.E. Schiller and Dade Thieriot

Those of us in the world who are interested in rare and old German Wines surely know Dee Vine Wines in San Francisco. Dee Vine Wines is a purveyor of fine and rare German wines. It is one of the best sources in the world for older German wines. As such, the portfolio of Dee Vine Wines differs significantly from those of say Terry Theise and Rudi Wiest, two well known US importers of German wine.

When I recently was in San Francisco, I dropped by Dee Vine Wines and had a short chat with the founder and co-owner Dade Thieriot. Unfortunately, his young, charming wife, co-owner Petra Thieriot was not around when I was there. I had met Petra and Dade a year earlier at the 1. International Riesling Symposium in Germany, where Dade had led - with Jancis Robinson - a tasting on the Aging Potential of Riesling.

To find Dee Vine Wines at Pier 19 was not easy. To find Pier 19 was easy, but when we were standing at the large gate of Pier 19, my wife wanted to turn around and move on. Because all she initially saw was a garage with parking cars. But then I detected a big sign with Dee Vine Wines and I knew we were right.

Pictures: Dee Vine Wines at Pier 19 in San Francisco

Dee Vine Wines – Purveyors of Fine and Rare German Wines

I was taken by the collection of old and rare German wines that Dade stores at Dee Vine Wines. You can buy these through the internet at up to 5 digit prices, as, for example the Schloss Vollrads Riesling Trockenbeerenauslese 1911. Dee Vine Wines buys wine cellars. A spectacular purchase was the acquisition of the Ludwig Balz Trockenbeerenauslese Collection of nearly 2000 bottles in 2004/05.

At least twice a year, in the future probably more often, Dade flies over to Germany to taste the new vintages and also inquire about and taste older vintages from the libraries of well-known wineries. He then makes group buying decisions, imports directly and offers the wines to the Dee Vine Wines customers, mainly via internet and special programs. "Since my marriage to Petra it is really more like three and sometimes four trips. Believe it or not, last year I went six times!" Dade said.

Pictures: Dee Vine Wines Collection of Rare and Old Bottles

Dee Vine Wines currently has four different wine subscription programs. "But this will change soon" Dade said.

Dade and Petra Thieriot

Dade began his career in the wine business back in April, 1974 in San Francisco at a company called Connoisseur Wine Imports, which specialized in rare Bordeaux, Sauternes, vintage ports, old Burgundies, and German wines. His early interests were Bordeaux, but then one day someone tasted with him a bottle of 1971 Piesporter Goldtröpfchen Spätlese, Reichsgraf von Kesselstatt and he was totally floored! ”I could not believe how beautiful were the wine's aromas of fresh apple blossoms, mineral flavors, and refreshing acidity with hints of honey and a gentle kiss of botrytis--in a word, magical. I was immediately transformed from someone who thought he only could only be passionate about red wines to a Riesling freak!” he said. Dade was also astounded by the modest cost of such magnificent wines as compared to what he was shelling out for the average French wine.

Pictures: Dade Thieriot

Many years later in 1996, he founded Dee Vine Wines after having heard from many friends that there was no longer anywhere in the Bay Area that offered a decent selection of German wines, and even then they seemed over-priced by comparison to what they had been accustomed to when Connoisseur closed its doors in 1992. So when he decided to set this company up his primary focus and goal was to reinstate a fine selection of German wines in the local market.

Pictures: Dee Vine Wines at Pier 19 in San Francisco

The inaugural catalog, which appeared in October of 1998, featured stories about six different German estates from the Rheingau, Nahe and Mosel. One of those producers, Josef Rosch, in Leiwen is still one of our stalwarts to this day. Dade also offered some rarities from other countries as well as a handful of Burgundies.

“10 years later, on May 1, 2009, a wonderful thing happened. I met Petra Grünewald at a friend's home on the eve of my 59th birthday. She was studying international wine marketing and finance at the Lehr-und-Forschungsanstalt in Geisenheim (Rheingau), which is the equivalent of the oenology and viticulture school at the University of California (Davis). She had been invited to my importer friend's for dinner to give her the opportunity to ask about doing an internship at DVW, and although I must admit she was not only beautiful and from the Mosel, internships are an opportunity we have offered many other foreign students since we began. To make a long story short, two months later she arrived for her three month visit, and we fell in love--way in love! So much so that we got engaged in Vienna over this past New Year and ten days later we were married in a private ceremony at the Redwood City courthouse on January 10th.”

Picture: Ingo Swoboda, Dade Thieriot, Jancis Robinson and Wilhelm Weil at the 1st International Riesling Symposium in Hattenheim in 2010, Leading a Tasting on the Aging Potential of Riesling

Since then, Dee Vine Wines is in a major restructuring of the entire company. Six months later, by mid June, everyone who had begun the year at DVW had either resigned or been laid off--a brand new leaf! As of the start of the year Petra and Dade had offered German, French and Spanish wines in addition to rare older wines from Europe, but they have decided to move into the direction of their greatest passion--German wines and Mosel Riesling! In the coming months, as Petra and Dade move the inventory to a new location, and the office to another place due to the Americas Cup in 2013, they will commence the process of gradually eliminating and phasing out the French and Spanish portfolios.

schiller-wine - Related Postings

1.International Riesling Symposium

Aging Potential of Riesling – A Wine Tasting at the 1st International Riesling Symposium in Germany Led by Jancis Robinson

Lusciously Sweet Rieslings - Wine Tasting at the 1st International Riesling Symposium

First Class Dry Riesling Wine Tasting at the 1st International Riesling Symposium

Riesling Elegance with a Touch of Sweetness – Tasting at the 1. International Riesling Symposium in Germany, led by Stephane Gass

German and Austrian Wines in the Wine Spectator Top 100 2010

German Spaetlese Wines Can Come in Different Versions. I Have Counted Five.

Phil Bernstein’s Third Annual German Riesling Tasting with the German Wine Society, Washington DC Chapter - Rieslings With a Touch of Sweetness

Visiting Weingut Josef Leitz in Ruedesheim – Johannes Leitz is Germany’s Winemaker of the Year, Gault Millau WeinGuide 2011

When Americans Drink German Wine - What They Choose

Impressions from the Riesling and Co World Tour 2010 in New York

JJ Pruem Goes Supermarket: Meeting Katharina Pruem and Tasting the Incredible JJ Pruem Wines at Wegmans

The Wines of the Roter Hang (Red Slope) in Nierstein, Rheinhessen, Germany

August Kesseler’s Pinot Noir and Richard Wagner’s Ring der Nibelungen in San Francisco, USA

The Natural Wines of Terroir in San Francisco

Dining and Wining at a 1 Star Michelin Restaurant in San Francisco - Range in the Mission District, USA

Christian G.E. Schiller Interviewed by James the Wine Guy


  1. Thank you so much, Christian! What an amazing write-up of Dee Vine Wines. I´m sorry I missed you but we are looking forward to welcome you at our new location next year!

  2. Dade, hope to find your new location and visit. We have had many great memories and fun moments. You are the King of Riesling!!

    Mike Beltran