History of the Weingut Wegeler
Wegeler is a family-run estate with a deep sense of history and tradition. For four generations now, they have shared the same passion for Riesling, which is cultivated in 100% of their vineyards along the Rhine and the Mosel river banks.
Julius Wegeler, head of the export department at the well-known sparkling wine producer Deinhard, married Emma, daughter of the owner August Deinhard, in 1862. After August’s untimely death, Wegeler took over the management of the company. The enterprise prospered, and in 1882, the family decided to buy a fine wine estate in the Rheingau. They purchased vineyards in Rüdesheim and Oestrich and the stately home at the Friedensplatz, which still houses the estate administration.
Following the Rheingau purchase, Wegeler expanded to the Mosel in 1900 with the legendary acquisition of a large part of the renowned site Bernkasteler Doctor, as well as plots in famed Wehlener Sonnenuhr & Ürziger Würzgarten. To this day, the Mosel wines are produced on the Gutshaus premises, constructed circa 1903.
The Winemaker's Philosophy & Style
"Quality is our philosophy," Julius Wegeler coined this mission statement back in 1882, and despite of all fashions, marketing strategies or market restrictions, it has never been modified. Period! To this day, this is the way they work, just like 130 years ago when the estate was founded.
Wegeler produces high-quality Riesling exclusively, using traditional and ecological wine-growing methods. They produce their wines in house, mature them without exception in their own cellars, and bottle in their own bottling plants at each estate. In this way, Wegeler controls the chain of production, from planting and managing the vineyards, to the harvest, production and packaging of each bottle.
From the vineyard, the grapes are immediately brought to the estate for processing. The most important aspect is their gentle treatment. Utilizing the gravitation principle, the grapes do not suffer any mechanical strain. After having been unloaded at the receipt station, the grapes are gently pressed. The grape must is then left to settle overnight. During this process, the solids deposit at the bottom and the must clarifies naturally. The next step is the fermentation.
Fermentation is done in cooled stainless steel tanks with the addition of cultured as well as wild yeasts. Maturing in the stainless steel tank (under exclusion of oxygen and free of micro-oxidation) preserves the prevailing primary fruit perfumes, together with the wines' distinct character and elegance.
In the Rheingau estate, specially selected wines are additionally matured in large barrels of aged oak, ranging from 15 to 6000 liters of size. These wines are subject to micro-oxidation caused by the oxygen penetrating through the pores of wood. Wines aged in this way gain extraordinary creaminess.
Following the fermentation, which will not be completed before springtime for most wines, the new wines are left in contact with the fine yeast for some time. Depending on the type and selection of the wine, they may remain on the lees until the summer months. Before bottling, they are filtered once. Pursuant to their aromatic profile, the wines retain their natural residual sweetness. Bottling starts in spring and lasts till summer. After its second fermentation, the Geheimrat "J" Riesling sparkling wine brut is put on the fine yeast for 3 to 5 years, for special editions even up to 10 years.
The vineyards of the Wegeler’s estate are some of the most reputable names in the Germany in both Rheingau and Mosel. This is just a snapshot of the top vineyard sites we carry from Wegeler:
The legendary Bernkasteler Doctor vineyard has long been considered one of the best sites in Germany. Its Doctor name comes from the 14th Century, when the Archbishop Boemund II had a very serious illness that his doctors were unable to cure him of. According to legend after drinking the wine of this vineyard he made a complete recovery and declared: “This wine is the true doctor!” From then on, this vineyard situated above the village of Bernkastel has been called Doctor. The wines from here have been drank by royalty and wine elites for centuries.
The vineyard is small at 3.26ha, steeply sloped and directly southwest exposed. Most remarkable is its black soil, consisting of pure blue Devonian slate, which can fully absorb the warmth of the sun. Yet, at the same time, inside the mountain and away from the sun, the slate is an ideal carrier for moisture that allows microorganisms to nourish and supply minerals that sustain the vines.
When Julius Wegeler purchased one third of the vineyard in the fall of 1900, he paid 100 goldmarks for each vine. In today’s money, this is equal to 800 Euros per vine and still the highest sum ever paid for a German vineyard. It was only after the purchase of the Doctor vineyard that Julius Wegeler built the winery in the Mosel and laid the foundation for future acquisitions in surrounding vineyards. Since Julius Wegeler’s historic purchase, no other parcel of the Doctor vineyard has been available for sale.
With each vintage since then, the Doctor vineyard has proven and at times defended its reputation as a premier site for the highest quality Riesling. In 1971, after the passing of the new German Wine Law, the vineyard gained 2 hectares in size overnight. Most of it was located in the shady and less valuable valley floor. The Wegeler family, along with the other parcel owners of the vineyard, fought a 16 year long court battle against the Federal Republic of Germany, which they eventually won, restoring the original demarcations of the site. To this day, the Doctor vineyard is known as one of most premier sites for viticulture worldwide and it is most ideally suited to growing superior Rieslings.
The Wehlener Sonnenuhr (Sundial) is a plot that is shared between the villages of Wehlen & Zetlingen. It is one of the best known sites in the Mosel region and documents dating back to the 1840s already describe it as one of the best vineyard sites along the river. It takes its name from the medieval-esque sundial, built in 1842, which still overlooks the vineyard today.
Sonnenuhr’s perfectly south facing slopes give it great exposure to the sun and its Devonian slate based soil help retain the warmth and energy of the sun. The site is known for its subtle and playful fruit characteristics, which results in Riesling of great grace and refinement.
Rüdesheimer Berg Schlossberg is the westernmost Grosse Lage site in the village of Rüdesheim. It is an imposingly steep slope situated where the Rhine river turns north from its westbound course throughout the Rheingau. Exposed southward and westward facing, the vineyard is exposed perfectly to the sun and overlooks the village of Bingen on the other side, as well as the famous Mäuseturm (“mouse tower”) on an island in the river.
It takes its name from the 1211 Ehrenfels castle (Schloss), which sits on its western edge just before the Rhine turns north. Ehrenfels castle was one of many tolling stations along the river in the Rhine Valley and was destroyed in 1689. The ruins make for a great hiking destination and offer a fantastic view across the river.
Berg Schlossberg has 45% slopes displaying the slate soils most commonly found in the Mittelrhein and Mosel regions to the north. Its wines are characterized by the minerality of those regions, combined with the strength and fruit of the Rheingau. It has been planted 100% to Riesling since 1720, among the first sites in Germany to do so. Its powerful and intensely mineral-laden wines have been praised for centuries. As far back as 1870 the wines were sold in England as ‘First Growth’.
Winkeler Jesuitengarten is one of the warmest sites in the Rheingau that flowers and ripens very early. The easily warmed alluvial soil and gently sloped hills make for elegant and fruity wines with great minerality. This “Garden of the Jesuits” garners its name from the 1606 gift of the vineyard from the Archbishop of Mainz to the Jesuit College of Mainz, who held on to it until the late 18th Century.
Geisenheimer Rothenberg is one of the most famous in Rheingau for noble sweet wines. Since 2005 this vineyard achieved the record high must weight in Germany three times. The red quartzite soil is a rarity in the region, its steep slopes, and location away from river are ideal for its concentrated wines and aid in the development of the Edelfäule (noble rot), Botrytis Cinerea. Mentions of this vineyard’s prowess date back as far as the year 1145.