“SPARKLING WINE IS OUR GREAT PASSION!”
BERND SCHÖNLEBER SPEAKS ABOUT HIS WINES AND WINE ESTATE IN OESTRICH-WINKEL
F. B. Schönleber
Obere Roppelsgasse 1
Office HoursMo-Sa nach telefonischer Vereinbarung
Bernd und Ralf Schönleber
94% Riesling 6% Spätburgunder
VDP: What is so special about your winery?
Bernd Schönleber: Sparkling wine is our great passion! We’ve produced it at our own winery since the end of the 1980s. During our training, my brother and I worked at various wineries with their own sparkling wine production. We use the classic method of traditional bottle fermentation exclusively. Every year 22,000 bottles of sekt are produced. That is a quarter of our entire wine production. Grapes are harvested specifically with sekt production in mind. We are one of the first to begin with the harvest and the grapes are picked by hand. The harvest lasts 4-5 weeks to bring in grapes for high quality sweet and dry wines. Our estate also has a hotel with a wine tavern where our wines are served.
VDP: What is your winery philosophy?
Bernd Schönleber: All vineyards are cultivated sustainably. The rows between the vines are planted with selected green cover . We work with maceration periods, spontaneous fermentation and wooden barrels with our single-vineyard wines. The wines remain long on the gross lees to gain complexity and body. Long storage on the yeast in the bottle is, of course obligatory, for sparkling wines – at least 24 months for our Gutssekt and more than 48 months for our single-vineyard sekt.
VDP: For what wine style do you strive?
Bernd Schönleber: That depends on the quality level in the VDP classification pyramid. The entry-level Gutsriesling is already well crafted by hand and provides abundant drinking pleasure. The higher the quality, the more the origin is recognizable. We have various instruments at our disposal to achieve this. In the vineyard these methods include yield restrictions and also the selection of the best plots for these wines. In the cellar we use different stylistic tools: maceration periods, spontaneous fermentation, maturation on the lees, wooden barrels or stainless steel. As Rheingau residents, we naturally love Riesling!
VDP: Which of your wines would you recommend to someone who does not yet know your winery – as an introduction, so to speak?
Bernd Schönleber: When it comes to sparkling wine, it’s clearly our Cuvée Katharina, a fruity Riesling sekt brut that everyone adores! You can serve it at all occasions, from a wedding to a sparkling wine reception. We named the sekt after our mother, which makes her very proud. Among our still wines, it would be our ‘Alte Reben’ Riesling. It is dry, with pronounced mineral character and substance. It comes from the VDP.ERSTE LAGE® Oestricher Klosterberg, a 42-year-old vineyard.
“VITICULTURE IN GERMANY HAS EXCELLENT PROSPECTS. CLIMATE CHANGE HAS ONLY BROUGHT US ADVANTAGES SO FAR.”
VDP: Of which wine are you particularly proud?
Bernd Schönleber: Of our VDP.GROSSE LAGE® JESUITENGARTEN Riesling GG from the year 2016. After a difficult vegetation period with abundant precipitation, we had a dry autumn. The grapes remained wonderfully healthy over a very long ripening period. The wine has an enormous depth and is quite multifaceted. It is at the beginning of its development and yet already shows great potential.
VDP: Why did you become a vintner?
Bernd Schönleber: My father is a passionate winemaker and passed that on to me. I think that if the older generation sets an example, there is no question about succession.
VDP: Who were your role models or mentors?
Bernd Schönleber: Professor Becker and his cellar master Klaus Schmitt during my apprenticeship at the Institute for Vine Breeding at Geisenheim University. Professor Becker saw many things in other wine-growing regions and then tried them out at home. I learned a lot from that.
VDP: What are your next goals?
Bernd Schönleber: I’m still expanding the sparkling wine sector. The single-vineyard sparkling wines within the framework of the VDP.SEKT STATUT are a good approach for this. In the family, the next generation is in the starting blocks. Our sons Leon and Marius are currently training in renowned VDP wine estates in Rheingau. Another very general remark: I see the future in a positive light. Viticulture in Germany has excellent prospects. As far as climate change is concerned, we have only had advantages so far.
VDP: How do you combine tradition and innovation?
Bernd Schönleber: We use numerous traditional methods. Classic bottle fermentation has been around for 350 years. It is still the best method for sparkling wine production. Wooden barrels still have their justification and are experiencing a renaissance in many companies. We also like to use them. Innovation is really a bit of humbug. People don’t claim for nothing that in the wine industry, everything repeats itself after about 30 years. Just look at maceration periods and wooden barrels. In general, it’s pragmatic to never close your eyes to new techniques and choose the best for your winery.