GERMANY (Westhofen) - It was pure coincidence; a very good one indeed. Berlin: It was an event planned by the Association of German Quality and Praedikat Wine Estates. Members and guests gathered near the Berlin Dome for the fest. All of a sudden, Gerhard Gutzler from Rhinehesse appeared, he has been known for many years as one of the best red wine makers and also started making Riesling wines not too long ago. By his side, a young unknown lady. "It's not what you're thinking", says the man from Grundheim. After all, a couple of months ago he asked me not to write in my wine guide that he was in a relationship ("my wife and I separated", he admitted). Then he introduced the mysterious lady: "This is Miss Wechsler, my apprentice".
"And soon-to-be-winemaker", adds Miss Wechsler, who did not look like an apprentice at all, but rather like a model. She obviously aroused the curiosity of the journalist. "How long?", I ask. "Since December 2009. The next stop will be in Flörsheim-Dalsheim.“ This caused many people to ask: "Is there a wine from you yet?". "Yes, Riesling and Silvaner". "Can we taste it?". "If you want I will send you two bottles". Then we exchanged business cards and a couple of days later I had received the two bottles. "She's very reliable", I was thinking, remembering many vintners that would forget to do what they said they would.
She had also sent me her resume. It was full of interesting information about her: 31-year's-young, single, born in Worms, grew up in Westhofen, where her parents owned a wine business of 17 hectares. After she received her A-levels in the Nibelungen city, she studied French literature in Paris, then studied at the University of Stuttgart with major in political science and social science as well as economics until 2003. Afterwards she completed various internships and practical trainings including three months in Rio de Janeiro at the Konrad-Adenauer-charity as well as journalis jobs at the tv channel Sat.1 and at a tv-production and media agency in Berlin. She speaks 5 languages, including English, French, Portuguese and Latin. At first this does not sound very much like the resume of a winemaker.
Thus, her Riesling and Silvaner wines were not believed to be very "good". Then I tasted her 2009 wines. Her Riesling smelled like citrus and grapefruit, it showed versatility. Her Silvaner had a very nice herb smell, felt very creamy in the mouth and had a tender, delicate herb-taste. I will take back anything I said or thought about this young lady, who obviously wanted more from winemaking than just following the winemaker's trend for a while. These two wines should be taken seriously. They carry the signature of a natural talent.
I am sure that her father Ernst Wechsler (68) did his best to help her learn about winemaking in providing her with wine sites to practice on. Also, I think she paid good attention during her cellar internship in fall 2009 at the Vintner's Association Westhofen and later with Gerhard Gutzler.
When she was a young girl she wanted to leave Rhinehesse. "I always enjoyed living in big cities". However, sometime in 2009 her homeland called her back. Her brother and sister weren't interested in the wine business. Suddenly, Katharina Wechsler decided she wanted to follow in her father's footsteps, left Berlin and came back to Westhofen. She still visits her friends in Berlin every now and then, but now she invests all her time in viticulture and her apprenticeship.
She is not bothered at all by the fact that her vintages were limited to only one thousand liters each and that, as a newcomer, she had to sell her Silvaner for 6.50 Euro and her Riesling for 5.50 Euro. "I'm not greedy and this is enough for now", she smiles happily. She has already brought in the 2010 vintage, even with a Pinot Blanc as a nice finish. "It wasn't easy, but that's the case everywhere", she says. "I am very happy with the result". She wants her wines to mature a little. Since she did not really spend much time marketing her product, there is much left of her 2009 vintage. Nevertheless, you should hurry up and get some of these delicious wines, especially at this price. (r.knoll)