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A Passion for Riesling

‘Winegrowing on the steep vineyards on the edge of the River Moselle is no easy way to earn a living,’ says Daniel Vollenweider.

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Originally from Grisons, he fell in love with a vineyard site that had once been famous but had long since been forgotten over 20 years ago – the Wolfer Goldgrube in the Middle Moselle, a region known for its slate soil that packs a punch. Growing in that neglected vineyard were old, self-rooted Riesling vines – a hidden treasure just waiting to be revived. An intern at local leading vineyard Dr. Loosen at the time, the young winegrower knew all along that he wanted to stick around. Even once he had borrowed money from family and friends, he couldn’t afford more than a hectare to start with. So his first yield in the year 2000 may have only produced 3500 bottles but it was the stuff of legends. These days, the 52-year-old regularly picks up top marks from renowned wine critics like Robert Parker and James Suckling for his simple, crystal-clear Rieslings with a cool, mineral taste. Four out of five stars according to The Vinum Wine Guide. And yet his dry and sweet wines remain a closely guarded secret amongst the locals because there’s just not enough to go around. The grapes are still picked by hand – no mean feat across six hectares of steep slopes near the town of Traben-Trarbach in the Moselle region. Riesling expert Stuart Pigott called Vollenweider’s 2014 Wolfer Goldgrube: ‘One of the most exciting late harvest Rieslings from the Moselle region I’ve ever tasted.’ Not bad for a man who initially trained as a surveyor back home in Grisons and pursued that career before developing a passion for wine. He trained to be a winegrower at nearby Weingut Fromm, before completing his formal wine studies in Wädenswil and heading to New Zealand for an internship opportunity. ‘The Moselle region is my home now,’ he says. Together with colleagues, he works hard to maintain the steep slopes that are so difficult to cultivate. He has been running the vineyard with his colleague and designated successor Moritz Hoffmann since 2021. Both of them are as hands-off as possible in the vineyard and the cellar because: ‘Nature always has the last word.’

WINERY - weingut-vollenweider.de

Words Patricia Bröhm

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