Finally the time has come – in an eventful year for all of us, all the harvest workers have now arrived healthy and the harvest at Johannisberg Castle has begun on 22nd September in perfect weather with the vineyard “Oberberg”. After 1809 hours of sunshine in our region (source wetterkontro.de) our Riesling grapes are in top condition.
Like pearls from a cornucopia, the grapes roll into the wagon and give an idea of what great wines will come out of it.
Then it was the turn of our “Kochsberg” spot – a young vineyard planted in 2013. The Riesling grapes show a remarkable 92,5 degrees Oechsle.
“Super healthy grapes” is also confirmed by our long-time and experienced employee Thomas Sengler at the grape reception and he further estimates the must yield as a good average. “There is nothing to cry about” he smiles.
New day – new luck:
On September 23rd it was the turn of a section of the “Langender” wine field. Also here the 92 degree of Oechsle was very satisfying.
A matter for the boss: Stefan Doktor is not only unerringly on his way as wine estate manager, he also handles the journey with the precious cargo to the wine press house brilliantly and with a broad and happy smile.
On Friday, Sept. 25th, we will continue across our Gran Cru parcel “Mäuerchen quer”. The Grapes are still in a perfect condition and the desired 95° Oechsle habe been reached.
The Grapes are macerated cold here, at a temperature lower 12°C, so the fermantation does not begin. The berries remain in a container to extract more intense flavorings from the berry Skin. Cold maceration increases the fruit taste of Riesling.
After a rainy weekend, the harvest continues today, September 28, in the southeastern part of the vineyard full of vigour with a friendly sun-cloud mix.
Today, 60% of the vineyards have been harvested and Stefan Doctor examines the grapes harvested. The ripeness and health of the grapes on the vine are at a top Level.
A ride through the flat vine fields “Merzackerweg”, all of which have already been harvested.
It is our only wine field with cordon Training. Cordon training was handed down from the village of the same name in France near Paris and is today the most widely used method of training vines. It is also often used for greening facades. For us this method is an experiment and so far our young plant has developed magnificently.
In very varied weather conditions, the harvest has been going on for the past fortnight.
The quality of the grapes was consistently good and gives us an idea how the wine will be.
Also the Oechslegrades are in good average condition. Now things are really exciting in the wine press house.
At the first light of dawn everything still looks sparkling clean and almost sterile and above all it is still very quiet…
Soon, however, the machinery is set in motion. The first grapes arrive and a joyful hectic rush spreads. With each delivery the grapes are examined and the oechsle degree is measured. Depending on the quality and degree of ripeness of the grapes, it is decided how to proceed with the grapes. If they are destemmed and pressed as gently and time-consuming as possible, or if the entire grape material has to be pressed quickly.
Destemming refers to the removal of the berries from the grape skeleton of the grapes. This prevents the tannins contained in the grape stalk from getting into the wine.
The high quality of the grapes at the beginning of the third week of the harvest convinced our cellarmaster Gerd Ritter to start a cold maceration with part of the grapes.
The must remains in the fermentation tank at a cool temperature for about three days in order to extract all the aromas from the grapes as gently as possible, as shown in the first picture.
The low temperature prevents the starting of the fermentation.
The second picture shows how the grape cake looks like after three days of standing time and it Finally the liquid juice is extracted by hand with great effort and afterwards the grapes are gently pressed.
After pressing, all the wines come to our cellar for fermentation.
In the traditional cellar, which dates back to the 1100s, you find the wooden barrel which in our neck of the woods are called Stückfass.
They are made from the oaks that grew in our castle forest.
In the otherwise quiet and contemplative cellar, things are turbulent at the moment … the music of fermentation plays in the fermenting flasks, which has to be checked daily by our trainee Vasiliki.
Just around the corner in the old walls is the modern stainless steel barrel cellar. And here, too, control is daily work. Totally hidden but right in the middle of the action is the office of our Cooper Steffen.
A speciality is the pressing of the Trockenbeerenauslese, which is developed into a noble sweet wine.
The appearance of the grapes at this stage is more like a sultana than a grape berry. The grapes reached a specific Oechsle degree of around 230.
The fully ripe and noble rotten berries were individually detached from the vine, separated from the remaining berries and collected. Afterwards, our cellar master Gerd Ritter packed them into square packets in cotton cloths, piled them up between wooden boards where they are pressed carefully with pressure. Drop by drop, the juice flows and is caught in a tub.
Finally the fermentation can start.
All is well that ends well
Now that the vintage has been harvested – all the harvest workers have gone home healthy.
For us, this is the occasion to thank the whole team. For the work under extraordinary conditions, the discipline that was maintained every day and for all the friendly cooperation.
The vintage has rewarded us with consistently healthy grapes with an average of 87 to 90 oechsle degrees and decent acidity.
Cellar Master Gerd Ritter: “2020 has the potential for a very good vintage“.
We are very pleased about that, in particular in our anniversary year: 300 years Riesling at Schloss Johannisberg. We are waiting with excitement and looking forward next year to great wines of the oldest Riesling vinery in the world. Until then we remember the favorite motto from Sarah Vogelgesang, Head of Site Management, for this year:
“Riesling can not change the world, but the day…“