You are using an old browser that may not function as expected.
For a better, safer browsing experience, please upgrade your browser.

Log in Become a Member

What does a Swiss man do when he travels to the Saar with two German wine friends? He visits some top vintners. Why, actually? Their wines are available in the trade, and the prices at the farm are not temptingly cheaper. So what draws the wine lover to the producers? It can't be the tasting of the wines alone.

For me, it is the home of wine: the landscape, the soil, the people in their everyday life, their tradition, with their views and experiences. It is life where the wine grows.

Famous view of the Moselle

That's why I'm not telling you about the wines I encountered, but about the personalities, the winegrowers and their way of meeting us unknown, self-proclaimed wine lovers, registered at short notice but coming to the farm rather by chance to buy - if all goes well - a few bottles or boxes.

Six different farm visits are the occasion to shed light on something I like to call the "people behind the wine", and what keeps attracting me to many wineries in all wine regions.

But let's begin! The name of the farm or the winemaker is secondary here: it's about the type of winemaker, about the personal encounter with different wine worlds.

Vineyard on the Ruwer

There is the type of "farmer and hunter", just as one imagines a rough "farmer", connected with nature, but certainly also clever: somewhat loud, not exactly well-groomed, very determined, who vociferously defends his possessions - be they material or spiritual. He rants against many things, almost everything: regulations, politics, intransigence, unreasonable people.... But he does not mean it as seriously as it comes across. He deals with his cries affectionately. Every question is followed by a torrent of words, he tells and tells. He seems to take little interest in the listeners. He is convinced that his wines are the best.

The second "farm" is completely different. It is not only a winery, but also a hotel and restaurant: here we eat and ask for a small tasting afterwards. There are hardly any people in the restaurant at noon. The winemaker comes by quickly, says a few non-committal words, but then he is gone - busy. The nice waitress pours the wine. Later, the winegrower's wife puts the boxes we bought in front of us, but no conversation ensues. Anonymous everyday business!

We experience something similar at the next winery: a restaurant and hotel. The owner doesn't even show up. The request - for ample consumption - is fulfilled, but routinely, impersonally, almost reluctantly... There are no more guests, only the waitress (or chef de service). We want to buy a few boxes and pick them up the next day. We can't pay, the office is closed... We let it go!

Festive% distinguished tasting room at a Saar wine estate
Then a visit to one of the big wineries with a ringing name. Not the owner, the cellar master welcomes us in an impressive tasting room. It's more like a grand, elegant room with antique furniture, old maps on the wall, surrounded by empty bottles of the best wines in the world... We wait, understanding, because the harvest will begin in a few days. We are alone in the room for a long time. Every now and then the cellar master appears, puts down two bottles.... is nice, polite... but disappears again immediately. We wait. Then the next attempt: two three sentences The phone rings: he's gone again... we wait. And so it goes on, until we place an order, receive the wines and move on to the next "courtyard". The cellar master apologises and gives us a bottle as a consolation.... Thank you!

I went to the next winegrower years ago. Back then on a Sunday morning! I remember: personal, warm welcome, interesting conversations. But this time, although still the same winemaker, the same place, much more polished, more professional. There is still the same politeness, the same commitment. But routine, empty phrases, already repeated a thousand times. Sales routine, the interest seems played, the discussions fierce but shallow, conducted too often. A wine enthusiast has become a wine professional who knows how to present himself...

On a vineyard% where not only wine grows

And now for the type: warm-hearted eccentric. We are not registered here, so we just "tramp" in. The winemaker is still in his work clothes, he has to change to rush to the next event.... But he has time for us. He arranges it so that we walk - as if by chance - through the courtyard and wine cellar to enter the small tasting room. He talks about his wine: freely, almost mischievously, verbosely, but interesting. You get the impression that it's all very personal, a little rushed, but nevertheless cordial. It is a short encounter - but it remains in my memory. Here, wine is not only sold, but also endured and won.

And finally, the type of open-minded winegrower who strives for the best wine quality, but is not only concerned with his own wine. He takes his time, although he makes it clear that the harvest has begun. But contacts seem to be important to him, he does not give the impression that he has been disturbed. He doesn't force us to come and see him, but he makes it possible for us to have a look at his place of work... He asks about our preferences, our experiences. He is even interested in wines from other regions. Cosmopolitan, suave, that's my impression. Maybe you can sense that we are now in the Middle Mosel, with the famous vineyards and the many tourists..... There is no need for ingratiation, and there is hardly any lack of practice in dealing with "wine tourists". A winegrower who shows neither the bustle of a top manager nor the flirtatiousness of a salesman who is in a hurry to do business, but presents his wines in a matter-of-fact, correct, interested and authoritative manner.

Surprise visit to the wine cellar

Six different encounters, of course also dependent on chance, embedded in the daily business of the winegrowers, snapshots of everyday life at the wineries. And yet: which winery will I tell my friends and acquaintances about - regardless of the wine quality? Which wine will I order when it is on the menu in the restaurant? Who will I remember when I think of Mosel-Saar-Ruwer?

Aren't these questions that weigh heavily when we drink wines and talk about them? They are far better characteristics than all the wine descriptions and ratings, no matter how skilful, because in wine we always meet people. And they are not only of interest to wine freaks, but to everyone, wherever and whenever they drink wine.



Peter (Züllig)

Related Magazine Articles

View All