Much more info about wine culture in Baden-Württemberg
Modern new buildings, cool bottle design and colorful events - at more and more Baden-Württemberg vintners, wine tasting is becoming a cultural highlight.
The angular building with its rust-brown corten steel façade, built into a slope just above Vogtsburg-Bischoffingen, is visible from afar; the headquarters of the Abril winery really can't be called inconspicuous. Behind the "Roschtkäschtle," as locals like to call the new building, the vineyards rise like tiers in an amphitheater. Completed in 2011, the new building marks a new chapter in the company's 280-year history.
The interior has a lounge ambience. The bright salesroom is as spacious as it is elegantly tidy. Not only is the building architecturally ultra-modern, the cellar technology is also state-of-the-art. A land of milk and honey for the cellar master, as managing director Eva-Maria Köpfer calls it. At the same time, the building was constructed in a sustainable and energy-efficient manner. For example, the grape juice can be pumped over by drop pressure alone, as the delivery point is one floor above the cellar. Incidentally, this gentle process ultimately increases the quality of the wines.
This is how you get to Bischoffingen by train: Plan arrival.
As many winemakers as around Freiburg can hardly be found in any other region in this country. On the slopes of the gently rolling Rhine Valley in the sunny southwest of the republic, the grapes thrive particularly well; traditionally, it is mainly Pinot Blanc and Pinot Gris that are cultivated. In order for a winemaker to stand out from the competition, it takes more than just a good wine here - the "trappings" also play an increasingly important role: the design of the labels and bottles and, not least, the contemporary, modern architecture of the winery itself.
You can learn even more about the region here: The Kaiserstuhl: in the name of the king
On the outskirts of Ettenheim, the path winds up the hill to the Weber winery, past an old walnut grove. In 2013, the impressive new building of the winegrowing family was completed - only the high, glass front of the vinotheque can be seen. This is because the much larger part of the building - the production hall and the wine cellar - are built into the mountain. This is more than just an architectural highlight; in the wine cellar, temperatures remain stable in summer and winter, and there is no need for heating or cooling. The new building was created under the aegis of Michael Weber, who is the fifth generation of the family to run the winery: "Straightforward and unadorned - the architecture of the building reflects our philosophy," says Weber. Barely two dozen wine bottles are displayed in cuboid-shaped, rotating and sliding shelves that seem to float in the sales room. Only one bottle of each variety. The showroom regularly turns into a dance floor: In recent years, Weber has turned the winery into an event location, hosting after-work parties with DJs, club sounds and an elaborate light show. With the architect's house, the Webers present their wines in a contemporary way; with the rustic wine tavern next door, in the old building, they simultaneously demonstrate a sense of tradition and down-to-earthness.
This is how you get to Ettenheim by train: Plan arrival.
Bettina Schumann's winery is still a long way from the status of "traditional company" - the Berlin native only founded her wine house in Königschaffhausen on the Königsstuhl in 2015. With her partner, sommelière Melanie Panitzke, she now produces around 60,000 bottles a year. The two also take care of the design of the bottles and packaging themselves: A red lady's shoe is the trademark of the wine house. Logical, Schumann thinks, given her name - and her penchant for red shoes. "Bis in die Puppen" (Until the Dolls) or "Famose Schose" (Famous Shoe) is written on the label instead of the usual site designation: The Berlin dialect as a reminiscence of their origins - and to a certain extent as an equivalent to the tradition to which many long-established vintners refer on their bottles. Schumann studied viticulture and enology, and gained experience as a cellar master before finally setting up her own business. Panitzke comes from a background in starred gastronomy and joined the winery in 2018. Their shared credo: "Good wine must be fun - and drunk," Panitzke explains, adding, "Many top wines are often purely collector's items that are primarily just talked about." As if in defiance, the two have made rosé wines, of all things, their declared passion - and want to get the variety, which is downright frowned upon by wine connoisseurs, out of its niche.
This is how you get to Königschaffhausen by train: Plan arrival.
With the goal of helping Baden wine achieve international success, 54 young Baden winemakers have joined forces to form "Generation Pinot"; despite all the competition, they pull together, sharing their experience and knowledge of cultivation and cellar techniques. Michael Weber and Bettina Schumann are among them, as are Felix Scherer and Michael Zimmer, two young winemakers from Bad Krozingen. The two met at winemaking school and then founded their joint winery. There are no representative premises; they set up their winery in the former pigsty on the farm of Scherer's family. They now grow Burgundy wines on around ten hectares - and also try their luck with ecological cultivation methods. For example, with so-called "effective microorganisms," bacteria that are supposed to ensure a healthy vine in a completely natural way. The wines then mature in old barrique barrels from Burgundy. Scherer and Zimmer also have a mission: They want to help Chasselas gain a better reputation. Instead of high-tech, both rely on the greatest possible simplicity, on quality through closeness to nature: "In the beginning, we simply also lacked the equipment, we had to improvise a lot - and in doing so, we discovered that you don't have to do much with top grapes to get good wine." The bottle labels are also minimalist in design, there's not much on them - just what wine is in it, what grape variety it was made from.
Throughout the wine regions of Baden and Württemberg, winemakers have realized elegant, modern new buildings. In particular, the 14 vinotheques and 61 hotels that have been awarded the "Weinsüden" seal create links between wine, architecture and design. In order to be allowed to carry the seal, the houses must fulfill strict criteria: In addition to a high-quality wine selection and a great knowledge of regional wines, the vinotheques offer events related to the juice of the vine. The "Weinsüden" hotels not only offer overnight stays in the heart of the wine-growing region, but also wine tours, tastings and visits to winegrowers in the region.
Here in the picture gallery you can click through some more examples of successful new buildings, extensions and conversions of wineries in Baden-Württemberg:
Cover photo: Cool contrasts - design and nature united in the vineyard © Udo Bernhart
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