GERMANY (Stuttgart) – In a winery which is anything but normal and which is exploring new avenues, they have just harvested their fourth vintage. In Stuttgart-Rohracker, Dennis Keifer and Sebastian Schiller founded their KSK Vintage Winery with just under one hectare of vineyards based on a crowdfunding platform. The term is relatively new. “Crowd” stands for “people”, and “funding” for “financing”. Investors for the realization of projects can be found via Internet, no single persons but a large number of sympathizers who want to move a lot with usually small sums of money.
So, a series of startups could be launched, like the wine project of the two long-year friends, who could no longer observe steep slope vineyards are fallowing and a cultural landscape is perishing just three kilometers bee-line from Stuttgart main station. They did not have the money to buy the vineyards. But they found far over hundred companions, who took over the sponsorship for vines (60 euro/year and above) and who were working had in the Rohracker vineyards year-in year-out and were there like a duck in the water. By the way, they can obtain knowledge about wine and later test the results of their work in the glass.
Dennis and Sebastian (both born in 1983), together with supporters, have already achieved to revive many small fallow lands. At the beginning, they supplied the small Rohracker cooperative with grapes, but meanwhile they are vinifying themselves in a small, temporary wine cellar, and they are managing all the marketing by themselves – even though the two men do not sell at cooperative prices, they are self-confident (a white cuvee costs 9.00 euro and above), but they do not become pretentious. Some of their wines are meanwhile listed even in star restaurants. Even the Vendôme in Bergisch Gladbach (three Michelin stars) bought their wines.
The both founders do not directly come from viticulture but they had a good training. Dennis, according to his own statement “the down-to-earth person with a knack for numbers”, did a training at Wöhrwag, Untertürkheim, and Schnaitmann, Fellbach, expand his knowledge in Argentina, Chile, and Portugal, studied business management at Stuttgart-Hohenheim university, and is coordinating the work in the vineyards. Sebastian did a training at Beurer, Stetten, and Bercher, Burkheim, studied international wine business at Geisenheim, and spent some time in South Africa, South America, Australia, and Portugal. At KSK, he is preliminarily responsible for marketing. The two men are far from being able to live on their wine estate. So, Sebastian is working in wine sales and in a restaurant, whereas Dennis is working in tax accountancy.
The number of the wines, which are of considerable quality, is not big. Sauvignon blanc, Riesling, and a red premium cuvee out of Lemberger and Cabernet Carbon, are their flagships. A "Barely White" (white-pressed Trollinger, Muscaris, Cabernet Blanc), and a “Just Red” (a cuvee based on Pinot noir, Heroldrebe, Lemberger). Moreover, there is a Swabian “Port”, for which the mash is trodden during four days. As the amounts are small, they do not submit their wines for the quality wine exam but are marketing them as country wine.
During a little tour below the Rohracker vineyards, you became aware how laborious it is to cultivate vines here. Dennis is looking at a neighboring slope built-up by many big houses. “Somewhere over there is where Dieter Zetsche lives”, our young vintner explains. Maybe a commitment of the Mercedes board chairman in the green wine-nature would be an issue, after he visited the party congress of the “Greens” recently? Sixty euro for a vine sponsorship should be affordable, shouldn’t they? (rudolf.knoll)