The Wines of Maximin Grünhaus


The Maximin Grünhaus estate lies at the foot of a long steep south-facing slope on the left bank of the Ruwer River, about two kilometres before it joins the Mosel. The estate belongs to Carl von Schubert‘s family and is divided into three separate but contiguous vineyards: Abtsberg, Herrenberg, and Bruderberg. Each of these vineyards has its own distinct micro-climate, gradient and soil composition, differences in terroir which explain the unique character of the wines made at Grünhaus. Work in the Maximin Grünhaus vineyards is conducted in close harmony with nature. Fertilisation is organic, and the vineyards have been planted with a cover crop of wild herbs and grasses. No pesticides or herbicides are used, maintaining the health of the grapes through intensive manual work instead. To ensure quality, yields are restricted to around 45 - 55 hectolitres per hectare (hl/ha); other quality estates in the Mosel average around 80 hl/ha. The winery is situated conveniently close to the vineyards so that harvested grapes can be delivered to the press within a matter of minutes. Depending on the requirements of the harvest, the grapes can be macerated or subjected to whole-cluster pressing in a modern pneumatic press. After natural overnight clarification via sedimentation, the musts are fermented with naturally occurring wild yeasts in classic large oak casks (called “Fuder”) or small stainless steel tanks. This promotes the optimal development of mineral flavors from the slate soil and ensures the longevity of the wines. Neither the musts nor the finished wines are fined. In the last several years the wood for the Fuder barrels has come from the estate’s own oak forests, and the barrels are crafted by a local cooper.

The Grünhaus estate dates back to Roman times. Artifacts such as Roman flat bricks in the foundations, pottery remains, and roof and wall tiles suggest that a “Villa Rustica” once stood on the site of the present Schloss. There is also evidence that wine was produced on the estate in those days. The first documentary evidence of Grünhaus, then called “Villa ad Valles,” dates from February 6th, 966. Emperor Otto I, heir of Charlemagne, confirmed a donation that had been made in the Seventh century by the Frankish King Dagobert. At that time, the buildings, vineyards and surrounding land had been given to the Benedictine monastery of Saint Maximin in Trier. Until the end of the 18th century Maximin Grünhaus was managed by the Abbey of Saint Maximin. After all church property was secularised by Napoleon, the estate was held under French administration until 1810. In that year, the estate was sold to Friedrich Freiherr von Handel. Forty years later, it passed to his grandson, Friedrich Freiherr von Solemacher.
In 1882 Carl Ferdinand Freiherr von Stumm-Halberg bought the Grünhaus estate which consisted of vineyards, a farm, and extensive woodland. Investing heavily, he transformed it into one of the most modern of its time. A turbine in the Ruwer provided electricity to power countless machines, including the hydraulic presses in the winery. Small locomotives ran on the vineyard roads, and a cable car transported equipment around the vineyard. Dr. Carl von Schubert, who now runs the estate, comes from the fifth generation of the family. He took over management of the estate in 1981, after he completed his doctoral thesis on the economics of steep slope viticulture. At the beginning of 2004, Stefan Kraml took charge of viticulture and viniculture at Grünhaus. Since that time, the wines of the estate have benefited from his uncompromisingly high standards.

Abtsberg: Wines from this vineyard were originally destined for the table of the Abbot (or “Abt”) of the Abbey of St. Maximin. The site covers 35 acres, parts of which have been planted with vines for over a thousand years. The subsoil is blue Devonian slate and the hillside runs south-east to south-west, achieving a gradient of up to 70 percent. Abtsberg wines are characterized by a finely structured, subtle minerality, a racy acidity, generous fruit and great delicacy. They are amongst the longest lived Rieslings of the region.

Herrenberg: Wines from this site were made especially for the Abbey’s choirmasters. Extending over 40 acres, the site benefits from deep soils with good water retention, over a base of red Devonian slate. Wines from the Herrenberg show fruit and body early in their lives, but also possess extraordinary ageing potential.

Bruderberg: The smallest of the three Grünhaus vineyards, covering just 2.5 acres, the Bruderberg provided wine for the monks (or ‘brothers’). The site has the same Devonian slate soil as the Abtsberg next door, and the wines are very spicy, sometimes with a rustic slate/mineral quality. Only one wine is produced from Bruderberg, the Kabinett.