Maximin Grünhaus: 1000 years' history in the Mosel
Not many wineries can boast a thousand-year history, but Maximin Grünhaus can. The estate has a rich history of viticulture dating back to the Roman occupation of the Rhine. The first documented reference to the Grünhaus estate is in 966 AD, where Kaiser Otto I was gifted the estate by the Franconian King Dagobert I. Over Kaiser Otto’s lifetime the buildings, vineyards and lands were given to the Benedict Abbey of Saint Maximin, from which the estate now takes its name.
During the Napoleonic era, the estate was run by the French administration, before passing to the Von Schubert family in the late 19th century. Maximin Von Schubert represents the sixth generation of the family to manage the estate after taking over from his father Carl Von Schubert in 2014.
Sixth-generation Maximin Von Schubert and his father Carl Von Schubert
The historic Maximin Grünhaus estate is located on steep south-facing slopes on the left bank of the Ruwer river, which is two kilometres upstream from the famous Mosel river. The estate is divided into three separate but contiguous vineyard sites; Abtsberg, Herrenberg and Bruderberg. Each site has its own distinct characteristics, which are revealed in the wines they produce.
The Maximin Grünhaus estate vineyards
The 14-hectare Abtsberg vineyard is widely considered the estate’s ‘Grand Cru’ site and produces some of its top wines. The soil type is predominantly Devonian slate, which forms a rounded summit running from the south east to the south west. The best parcels are classified as 'Grosses Lage' and can be found in the middle of the vineyard where the gradient reaches up to 75%.
The 19-hectare Herrenberg vineyard has many of the same characteristics of the Abtsberg site, which isn’t surprising given the fact they sit adjacent to one another and share the same soil type. Unlike the Abtsberg site, however, Herrenberg is surrounded by the Grüneberg forest and tends to be cooler and slightly flatter. The Riesling produced from this site is of exceptional quality. These wines can be enjoyed young and have the ability to age beautifully for years or even decades. Bruderberg is the smallest vineyard on the estate, measuring in at only 1 hectare, and is also the coolest, which makes it perfect for producing Rieslings with natural racy acidity.
The winemaking philosophy has been passed down through the generations and today the estate works hand in hand with nature. Throughout the vineyards, wild herbs and grasses have been planted to act as a natural cover crop to the vines. This means the use of pesticides has been made redundant. The journey from the vineyard to the press is very short, taking only a few minutes. Winemaker Stefan Kraml, who has been with the estate since 2004, uses wild yeasts to ferment the must in small stainless-steel tanks and large oak casks, made from wood sourced from the estate’s own forests by local coopers.
Oak casks in the cellar
The estate is also known for its 'Grand Vintages', cellaring them in their centuries-old wine library. In 1923, a cask of the 1921 Herrenberg Trockenbeerenauslese was sold for 100,000 gold marks to the Waldorf Astoria in New York. This record for the most expensive barrel of Mosel wine ever to be sold at auction still stands to this day.