We are sure that 2020 will remain in our memory for a long time – and not only because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
In the vineyards, we had to deal with conditions we have never had before. But this very exceptional year has produced – probably to console us – joyful wines with animating structure and elegant fruity appeal.
Winter was dry and mild. We were therefore pleased by the generous rainfall in February. The following very warm and dry months brought an unusual early blossom, so we were already aware of an early harvest by the end of May. Even though it was very dry, we sometimes had a bit of rain – at least in Graach. Unfortunately, one rainfall was also accompanied by hail. Our first impression was that the damage was negligible. But later in the year, it was obvious that many berries were affected. Along with sunburned berries, this led to time-consuming selections, but essential for the final quality.
Before picking, we went even more often to the vineyards to taste the grapes than we usually do. “Is it really possible that we have to start picking that early?” This was our daily question.
With the start of our harvest season on September 14, 2020, summer celebrated its comeback. Because of the heat we sometimes had to interrupt picking already in the early afternoon. At times, it was unbearably hot. Temperatures rose to 37 degrees Celsius (98.6 degrees Fahrenheit), which interrupted the maturation process until the end of September, because the vines switched to “self-preservation” to protect themselves. On the positive side, this “natural brake” enlarged our time window to do pre-selections quietly in all of our vineyards. This enabled us to pick Kabinett wines with lively acidity as well as fine Spätlese wines during this period. Towards the end of September, it cooled down enormously, and it also rained a bit from time to time. Around October 8, we received more rain and deferred picking more grapes until October 14 to let them dry again and, of course, to get more concentration and taste in the berries. Finally, we got the chance to select more very noble Spätlese grapes. On October 17, we luckily finished the picking season with marvelous Auslese grapes in the Domprobst vineyard.
We are very grateful that we all stayed healthy during the harvest. Everything else would have been a nightmare…
The grapes were perfectly healthy, too. Hence the noble sweet “peak” in 2020 is our Domprobst Auslese #11. Through all quality levels the wines show a very animating acidity, gripping minerality, good extracts, and expressive flavors, which showcase the vineyards in the usual manner. The young wines are all very elegant, full of character, and intense. We are very lucky!
Weingut Willi Schaefer, February 2021
Yes – we are overjoyed about the results of harvest 2019! Currently, the young wines enchant us in all variations from our “village-level” to Beerenauslese. What we love most is the complexity, the detailed juicy-elegant character, the multilayered fruit flavors plus, of course, the distinct acidity. Of particular note is the complexity of our Auslese wines. Vintage 2019 also provided us with a GG (Grosses Gewächs), though we will release it at a later date.
Budbreak occurred in mid-April, but frost on the night to 5th May turned out to be disastrous for many winegrowers. We were lucky to escape with no more than a scare.
By the end of June, flowering was finished, but not every flower turned into a berry due to some rain. This led to nice, loose grape clusters.
The summer was sometimes far too hot. Many grapes were partly burned from the sun.
Nevertheless, the grapes developed marvelously, and we started picking on September 25. Just a while later, it started raining from time to time – the night mare of every wine-grower. Luckily it was rather cool and the rain turned out to be more a drizzle so that the grapes stayed mainly dry.
We worked hard and long to check every grape and cut out the sunburned berries and those not fully developed, plus other berries or grapes bunches that we did not like. Then it got very warm. We took advantage of these dry and up to 27-degrees-Celsius warm days to pick excellent grapes for our Auslese- and Beerenauslese wines – simply fantastic! After this warm period, the development of the remaining grapes in the vineyards speeded up extremely fast and we speeded up with them. Our great harvest team and the entire family was deliriously happy but also completely exhausted as we were finally able to celebrate the end of the harvest on October 19, 2019.
Vintage 2019 delivered the entire spectrum a Riesling grape can offer: healthy and crunchy grapes, picture-book-like grapes with small golden-yellow berries, as well as perfectly botrytised bunches. Everything we didn’t like, remained in the vineyard. We are very grateful that our vines haven’t been affected by hail and frost, so we will not complain about the reduced crop. It could have been much worse. Climate change poses great challenges for us.
But we grow with our tasks-, and we are very pleased about the splendid quality of vintage 2019!
Weingut Willi Schaefer, February 2020
For a long time we could hardly believe our luck. Harvest was just heavenly.
The golden yellow grapes were just perfect – healthy and flavourful. Immaculate weather conditions provided a rather relaxed harvest season. Four weeks long, from September 17th to October 13th, we were enabled to pick perfectly matured grapes. We are overjoyed by vintage 2018 which provided us with greatly satisfying qualities as well as generous quantities.
This vintage will satisfy admirers of the dry Riesling style, as well as lovers of our classic fruity and noble sweet Rieslings. In the usual manner the young wines are already offering the character of their origin, integrated in animating fruit and wonderful acidity. Our sorrows about probably to low acidities due to the heat did luckily not occur.
Regarding the vegetation period… After a long, dim winter and a very cold March, nobody believed in an early growing season. But suddenly in April winter was seamlessly replaced by summer. The good water supply from winter together with very warm temperatures promoted a fast and rather early bud break.
A ten minutes hailstorm in May made us pretty nervous. Luckily there was almost no damage. The flowering of the vines has already started end of May and herewith we have received the first indication for a very early harvest.
Sun worshippers did not have a single reason to complain in summer 2018. But vineyard work was extremely exhausting and almost intolerable due to the daily heat.
During many nights we were scared because of nerve-stretching thunderstorms – but finally we were spared from hail. What luck!
Generally spoken it was a very dry and hot year. But in Graach we sometimes had a bit of rain and the grapes developed marvelously.
The cooler nights of late summer supported a detailed development of the flavors and prevented the acidities from dropping to much. Because of the little, but sufficient rainfall the health condition of the grapes was impeccable. But on the other hand side we also hardly found botrytis berries. Nevertheless, in a few plots, we were able to select very noble botrytis berries, as well as perfect healthy shriveled raisins. In the first line vintage 2018 provided us with Kabinett and Spätlese. The nobel sweet wines are very noble but also very rare.
Even if the grapes hang at the vines just splendid, we did not have the courage to be happy about it for a long time. But now we are truly happy. Happy about a terrific vintage in an equally delightful quantity!
Weingut Willi Schaefer, February 2019
Small but beautiful—this is how you could describe the 2017 vintage in a nutshell.
We are of course very happy about the “beautiful.” The distinctive Kabinett and Spätlese wines let us almost forget the anxiety of 2017 growing season. In the cellar, we have polished and fruity Rieslings with a refreshing acidity. They delight us with their brilliance and clarity. We were unable to produce village-level Rieslings and dessert wines this vintage.
How did that happen? An unusually warm, dry March and early April spawned a very early budbreak—almost four weeks earlier than the long-term average. Because of this head start, the damage of the frost on the night of April 18 to 19 was significant. The first loss of yields was therefore predictable.
The months of May and June were hot and rather dry. Long-awaited rain followed in July and August. August 1, 2017, will be remembered for a minor hailstorm. Many battered berries from the hail fell to the ground by the time of the harvest; many others had to be carefully picked out. It could have been worse…
The hot and humid August weather accelerated the development of the grapes and led to an extremely early harvest on September 25, 2017.
Fortunately, during the three-week harvest, the weather stayed cool and dry. Also, the typical “Mosel-fog”—a classic concomitant of autumn in our region—had to wait until the end of the harvest. This year, due to the adverse conditions, it was a stroke of luck for us.
During a very long and time-consuming hand harvest, we were able to pick out the healthy little Riesling bunches, often only individual berries, from those affected by the freak weather. It was demanding and tiresome. We are very grateful to the many helping hands.
The result is a quantity of a “half autumn.” But the bright young wines are proof that we made the right decisions.
We are happy about the new vintage!
Weingut Willi Schaefer, February 2018
The beautiful late summer of 2016 led to a happy end after a turbulent year!
The still very young Riesling wines fascinate already with their bright fruit, elegancy, juiciness and nicely integrated acidity. Peach, citrus -fruit, red current and cassis are some of the many flavors revealed by these “youngsters”. – Each Riesling has its own individual personality. As in every year, you can follow the typical characteristics of Graacher Himmelreich, Graacher Domprobst and Wehlener Sonnenuhr, like a common thread through the entire 2016 range.
Above all, we were able to produce Kabinett and Spätlese wines, as well as a little of village -level and Auslese wines. We are extremely happy about the high quality of every single wine!
It was a rocky road to obtain these results – very busy, exciting and demanding. On 27 May 2016 a hailstorm swept across parts of our vineyard holdings. In the affected vineyards, we found about 80 percent of the shoot tips were damaged and our mood was dampened. Luckily, the clusters were not hit that much and, the loss of yield was finally less than previously feared.
The rather mild winter and spring were followed by a warm and humid early summer. From mid-May until the beginning of July, it rained almost every day. We had perfect conditions for vine growth. However, this meant exemplary conditions for fungal diseases as well. But due to the perfect timing of our vineyard work and many additional working hours, we got the difficult situation under control.
July came along with a long-desired weather change and spoiled us with a late but perfect summer. September 2016 will probably go down in history as the hottest September since the beginning of weather records in 1880. The Riesling grapes developed marvelously.
On 11 October 2016, we started our harvest. We were so lucky because of the golden -yellow, aromatic and healthy grapes with rather low levels of botrytis. Because of the warm late summer, the acidity levels were a bit more moderate than in the previous year. The harvest weather was mostly dry. It only rained one day towards the end of the picking season on 23 October 2016. Two days later, the grapes were dry again, and we continued harvesting fantastic grapes until we happily finished on 29 October 2016.
Weingut Willi Schaefer, February 2017
Happy faces during picking time are indicating a wonderful vintage 2015!
Last summer was heavenly, not only for sun worshippers. Our grapes matured perfectly and the anticipation for the upcoming harvest was massive.
Mid September brought more rain than we were hoping for. But we had great luck. The rainfall stopped again soon, followed by wind, cool nights and not to warm days. It could not have been better. The skins of the berries were thinned; the grapes were mature, combined with a lovely acidity and a good, moderate Botrytis. Very optimistically we started harvesting 1st October 2015.
Due to the dry weather there was no reason to hurry and we had plenty of time to pre-harvest each parcel selectively. The remaining grapes took advantage from the longer hanging time until we picked these golden, small berries in the second half of the harvest. Temporary the temperatures dropped down to 1°C. In the morning of 14th October there was even a bit of snow in the upper vineyards and in Graach-Schäferei, where Willi and Esther are living. But this „winter intermezzo“ was very brief and sunny autumn days were following soon.
It was a great pleasure to see the process of maturation and we are very grateful that nature did not provide further mischief. But it seems that a certain excitement is strongly related to our profession.
Besides our long-term helpers we got further support from our family and friends again. Jonathan and Jakob were looking forward to the picking season crazily. Monika, Christoph’s aunt with husband Peter and further friends were attracted by “alpine vineyard experiences”. The “Oberrotweil-harvest-gang” with Andrea’s brothers Thomas and Armin with girlfriend Katja and winegrower-colleague Siegmund, demonstrated that they are very skilled in the steep slopes, too, although they just have finished their own harvest.
Our last Riesling grapes were picked 27th Oktober 2015 at nightfall.
Now the musts are fermenting and we are looking forward very much to fruity basic wines, elegant Kabinetts, nobel Spät- and Auslesewines, crowned by a Beerenauslese. A vintage which fulfills all wishes.
Weingut Willi Schaefer, November 2015
Last winter, it was unusually mild, followed by the warmest March that we had since 1948. Already in the second week of March, temperatures exceeded 20 degrees Celsius (68 degrees Fahrenheit). Thus the budbreak was very early. In the beginning of June, flowering went perfectly.
The large amount of grape clusters and their positive development raised hopes; particularly because of the low yields that we had the previous vintages.
Until the beginning of August, the vegetation was about four weeks ahead of a normal year, and we expected a very early start to the harvest. But August turned out to be rather cool and rainy. Thus the vegetation was curbed and the flavor development of the Riesling grapes profited from the cooler temperatures.
In early October, heavy rainfalls and warm humid weather quickly accelerated the maturity of the grapes.
So we started harvesting on October 4. From the beginning, we had to carefully select the grapes. And again we were glad to have our loyal and highly skilled team of pickers, as the harvest was a great challenge.
The expected yield was greatly reduced due to the necessary and strict selection of the grapes. Tasting the young wines now shows that all the effort was worth it!
The long vegetation period led to a detailed development of the aromas and a good maturity of the grapes. As a result, we can be very delighted about our delicately, fruity, fine, and brisk Rieslings.
Above all, we were able to produce our basic estate- and village-level wines, as well as fruity Kabinetts. Grapes for Spätlese and especially Auslese were rare.
This vintage is a welcome variation to the previous years, and so we can offer you once again, Mosel Rieslings “for every day”!
Weingut Willi Schaefer, March 2015
Vintage 2013 will go down in history as a crazy wine year with extreme conditions.
A very long, persistent winter did not give spring a chance. Bud burst and flowering period were significantly delayed. At temperatures above 30°C, flowering period began end of June. Shortly afterwards, the temperatures dropped again. Due to this wet and cold weather at the end of the floraison not every flower turned into a berry.
A hailstorm in June brought back bad memories of 2011. Fortunately the hailstones were already softened and only affected the fruit slightly.
This terrible weather was followed by a delightful, hot and dry July and August and allowed the grapes` development to catch up.
The wet, pretty warm late -summer dampened our cheerful mood again and caused a certain nervousness.
But our patience to delay starting the grape picking on 18 October was rewarded by a wonderful dry weather period with cool nights and sunny days. Due to the weather before, the berries were thin-skinned and good botrytis came up. The concentration of the grapes increased enormously, but the yield was decreasing constantly at the same time.
During the first days, we harvested the first mature grapes selectively. The rapid progress of botrytis and the breakable stems forced us to harvest much quicker. In addition to our faithful, long-time helpers, we mobilized more friends and relatives to help out. This allowed us to complete the harvest with up to 28 pickers by 31 October. Immediately afterwards, it was cold and rainy again.
The quality is much better than expected. We only harvested a few grapes for basic –wines; we have mainly picked Kabinett-, Spät- and Auslese-quality. Admittedly the quantity is leaving a lot to be desired. With only about 50% of a regular crop, it is even less that in 2010.
Nevertheless, we are grateful for the valuable Rieslings, which are showing plenty of finesse, complexity and good structure.
Weingut Willi Schaefer, Febr. 2014
October 18th we began with the pre-selection of our grapes. It is quite a while since we started that late. The first 10 days were warm and dry with cool nights, the fruit was healthy and correspondingly the harvest was pretty relaxed. First we selected the grapes with botrytis and the very mature bunches. The remaining grapes took advantage from the longer hanging time. Due to the selective picking we were able to collect all grapes at their perfect ripening level. On October 28th 2012 temperature was falling down to chilly -1°C, one day later we were also harvesting at -4.5°C. What a change! The vines lost all their leaves and it went much easier to find all this little bunches. Luckily more agreeable temperatures were following, though after All Saints´ Day we had rain again. Thanks to our faithful and flexible harvest-staff and additional helpers we were able to gather all of our grapes dry and healthy until 6th of November.
The only disadvantage of vintage 2012 is the loss of 30% yield compared to the previous year. Beneath a lower setting the flowering was not perfect and not every flower became a berry. The berry clusters developed very loos and survived the next wet weeks healthy. Thus it was an enormous advantage concerning the quality.
The grapes were perfectly provided with nutrients and minerals. The must weights were high and the long vegetation period lead to a detailed character of the wines.
Already the grapes and the must tasted very promising. The young wines are showing outstanding minerality, mature but racy acidity and expressive flavours, remaining on citrus fruit, yellow peach, cassis, exotic fruit and herbs. A classic vintage as desired, with wonderful Kabinett-, Spät- and Auslese wines and an elegant Grosses Gewächs.
Weingut Willi Schaefer, Graach February 2013
Mother Nature writes the most suspenseful stories, although we could happily do without. End of Mai we experienced the earliest-ever flowering, and the clusters developed magnificently. Rain and sun always came at the right time and in June the vegetation was two weeks ahead compared to average years.
The summer was not too warm; alternating between sunny and cloudy with little rain and so provided excellent conditions for the development of fine, elegant fruit flavours and clear minerality. The grapes were so beautiful – just perfect, the crop seemed very good and we were looking forward to the harvest.
On 26th of August 2011 our anticipation was destroyed. Ten kilometers up and down the Mosel from Graach, we had a hailstorm with hailstones as big as tennis balls. Within fifteen minutes all cars parking outside, many roofs, windows and frontages were damaged. And we feared huge damages in the vineyards, too. About 15% of the grapes were lying on the ground. But at least this was followed by good weather for the affected grapes still hanging on the vine. First we had rain, which washed the sugar out of the damaged grapes. Then it was cool and dry and those grapes dried out and did not affect the healthy grapes. Thank God we got off fairly lightly – at least concerning the vineyards, in the end the hail had only been a natural green selection.
We started harvesting 1st of October 2011. With very summery days and cool nights, it was fabulous, and the grapes profited from the sunshine, as did we.
The grapes were selected very carefully with a lot of handwork. Wonderful botrytised grapes and shrivelled berries were selected. Grapes which had not reached their physiological ripeness level by then, remained on the vines and enjoyed the good weather until they were good enough later on.
Due to these outstanding conditions we can be very pleased about this vintage. The acidities are rather low but obvious and the fruit and minerality are pronounced. The young wines are promising and are showing elegant characters paired with perfect ripeness. We are very happy!
It was an exciting and crazy year. First we were worried because of the long and cold winter. The flowering began later than usual. But after the hot July we achieved the same maturity as in 2009 by August.
September was rather changeable and affected the fruit and richness of the grapes’ flavour. As the Riesling grapes stayed pretty healthy they benefited from many sunny days in October. The late harvest in the Mosel valley, which is a result of the late ripening Riesling and the special climate of our region, was once again our favour.
Mid-October we began with pre-selection. In the first week we only selected botrytised bunches, all with very clean botrytis and a refreshing acidity. Wonderful noble sweet wines are the result.
The cooler and mostly sunny weather during the main harvest brought us a great concentration of flavour and acidity. But together with the uneven flowering it lead to an enormous loss in quantity.
This is the only flaw of the vintage 2010.
The young wines are developing excellently in our wooden barrels (Fuder). -We have never had Auslesen and Beerenauslesen with such a fantastic acidity.
Mother Nature gave us perfect Riesling wines with a bright future.