The Gutzler Estate is located in the Wonnegau near the wine-producing community of Gundheim in the hilly southern part of Rheinhessen. The estate has been in family ownership for generations, originally producing a variety of agricultural products including wine.
When the current vintner, Gerhard Gutzler, picked up the business from his father in 1985, he dedicated his passion solely to the vineyards and the wine, also adding a small champagne manufacturing facility, where sparkling wine is fermented according to the traditional methods developed in the Champagne region of France. Today, Gerhard Gutzler tends to 85,000 vines on 31 acres, producing approximately 105,000 bottles a year.
According to Gerhard Gutzler, “a great wine is created in the vineyard and not in the cellar.” He places immense care into directing the growth of the grapes while they are still on the stock, which emphasizes the natural qualities of the grape.
Gerhard Gutzler became a Master of Viticulture at the tender age of 20, but only began to “really make wine,” when he turned 24. His motto is to “do it different and do it better than anyone else” and this includes developing innovative methods for growing grapes and making wine. To him, crafting particularly fine wines is the only thing that matters.
The vineyard currently produces Riesling (28%), Pinot Blanc & Pinot Grigio (17% combined), Pinot Noir (32%), Silvaner (7%), as well as Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Dornfelder. With the exception of its dessert wines, the Gutzler Estate is particularly well known for its dry wines. Whites are typically fermented in steel or oak barrels, while reds ferment in the traditional wood and barrique barrels, where they are stored for up to 4 years to soak up the aroma and tannins of the oak.
The Gutzler Estate is considered one of Germany’s 240 best vineyards and listed in both the 2006 Gault Millau and Eichelmann wine guides as a producer of superior quality wines. The vineyard was just inducted into the VDP, Germany’s association of elite vineyards, and is also a member of the German Barrique Forum (Deutsches Barrique Forum). Gerhard Gutzler’s wines continuously receive prizes in competitions across Germany, but his biggest achievement came in 2001, when he won the German Red Wine Prize, Germany’s most important competition for red wines.
The Gutzler Estate owns vineyards in some of Rheinhessen’s best-known vineyards, among them the Liebfrauenstift-Kirchenstück in Worms, the Morstein in Westhofen and the Ölberg in Nierstein.
The Morstein is a First Growth vineyard in the town of Westhofen, first mentioned in documents dating back to 1282 AD. The vines grow on southern and southeastern slopes on massive, water-carrying limestone subsoil and heavy, clay topsoil with lime deposits, which produces strong, full-bodied wines with good acidity, resembling wines created in Burgundy. From the Morstein site, which is considered one of Germany's 100 best vineyards, comes Gutzler's great First Growth Morstein Pinot Noir.
The Liebfrauenstift site is located in the Liebfrauenstift monastery near the city of Worms and is the historic origin of the now mass-produced “Liebfrauenmilch” Riesling. The local soil is high in pebble stone, which gives the wine its singular minerality.
The vines receive water from the Rhine, which flows nearby, and are protected from wind, because the vineyard is located within the walls of the monastery, contributing to the playful and exotic aromas for which the site is known. When Gerhard Gutzler purchased 2,200 vines in the Liebfrauenstift in 1997, it was his goal to produce once again wines of superior quality at this historic site. His success has led to a true revival of the vineyard and Gutzler’s Liebfrauenstift wines can now be found on many wine menus in top restaurants across Germany.
Another top vineyard is the Ölberg in the community of Nierstein, which is facing south towards the Rhine. The hillside is steep, reaching inclines of up to 50% and the soil consists of mostly red clay.