GERMANY (Würzburg) - The Franconian Association of top wineries (VDP - Verein der Prädikatsweingüter) was inviting to an unusual *Niederfall this week. This time, the hosts were the traditional wineries Bürgerspital zum Heiligen Geist as well as the Juliusspital; there was a lot of interesting things to see and hear. Besides the tenor of the VDP vintagers, that will be an exceptional 2009 vintage just in the anniversary year of the Silvaner and besides the fact that both wineries and the invited vintagers offered excellent wines and created a harmonic atmosphere with interesting conversations, winery director Robert Haller and winery manager Horst Kolesch presented their company's new clever techniques.
First floor: Winery Bürgerspital
The tuned Haller´sche grabe-Mercedes
"We were looking for a gentle transporting system that would also be fast and easy to handle", explains winery director Robert Haller from the winery Bürgerspital to his colleagues in the media. "Unfortunately, we found all that in France, but not in Germany".
The "grape transporter", a hydraulically controlled tipping trailer with four wheels from the French company "Sthik" was the closest match for Haller. Then, after the French had adjusted their trailer to Haller´s ideas, he particularly wanted a fraction speed of 60 kilometers per hour, the trailer was also modified for the German TÜV (German Association for Technical Inspection). Also, the brake system was reinforced and after all this, both sides came to a 40.000 euro agreement.
"The relatively high buying price pays itself off pretty easily", explains Haller. "When the picking starts, there is a distance of up to 30 km from our vineyards to the cellar. This grape transporter makes the process fast, flexible and the technical cleverness, particularly the careful transportation of the grapes, is simply incredible."
"The grape transporter can carry up to 7 tons of grape material", says Haller. "The grapes can be piled up to a maximum height of 80 centimeters, which causes almost no pressure whatsoever so that the grapes are not crushed while they are being transported. The grape juice that is created nevertheless, is collected in a filter right under the first base of the trailer. The interesting thing about this is that the emptying of the trailer can be adjusted in many ways and also the adjustable vibrations of the trailer's rear guarantees the careful unloading of the grapes."
Second floor: Winery Juliusspital
The soft Kolesch´sche Traubenlift - "Juliusspital Grape-Tec"
The "new" winepress house of the winery Juliusspital is connected to the hospital's park house. When looking at it from the outside, one cannot tell what the inside has to offer in terms of possibilities, modern technology and innovative room design. When you are inside, however, you get the impression that the work stations are designed for intuitive work. Everything is exactly where it should be - simply perfect.
"The design is so perfect because our boss (meaning Horst Kolesch) included the whole team, from the cellar master Benedikt Then to the shipping employees, in the planning of the building", says marketing manager Kordula Geier from the winery Juliusspital. "Furthermore, we received a lot of support from the technology branch of the hospital. Thus, really everyone of us was involved in the creation of our winepress house."
The director of the division agriculture, viniculture and forests of the foundation Juliusspital Würzburg, Horst Kolesch, leads his colleagues directly to the heart of the facility - the "Grape-Tec". "Due to the redevelopment of the Spital park with the park house in the middle, the structural options were taken. Now we had to think of a way to integrate technology", explains Horst Kolesch and adds: "One of the most important questions was the careful transportation of the grape material, at the same time, however, we had to also think about the flexibility in the other work processes and finally the energy efficiency. We considered many different systems and then decided to develop our own system."
In order to realize this plan, three corners of the building had to be adjusted, which made the structural engineers sweat. However, Kolesch was convinced from the very beginning: "This system with our technical modifications is simply ideal for our situation."
Now, after 5 years experience with the grape tec, it is clear that the system works. The grape material can easily be unloaded into the 10.000 liter well. Then, the well is lifted up to 14 meters high until it stops right under the highest ceiling. Here, the grapes are transported into cooling grape and mash containers - "As if you were carrying them with your own hands", explains Kolesch. From the containers they go back down into different wine press machines.
These technical details that Haller and Kolesch presented that afternoon, were discussed afterwards in the comfortable hall of the winery Juliusspital. The vintagers had brought their own favorite wines and talked about their thoughts on the 2009 vintages next to the host Karl Martin Schmitt (Winery Schmitts Kinder, chair of VDP Franconia).
I did not get a chance to taste all of the wines, since all my conversations took a little longer. However, I think that the "2007 Riesling Teufelskeller Großes Gewächs" and the "Blanc de Noir" from the winery Juliusspital, the "Weißburgunder GG" from the winery Störrlein and -nor surprise- the Beerenauslese vintage 1967 from Fürstlich Castell´schen Domänenamt with their fine sherrynote are still very unique and present.
Rudolf Knoll, one of the invited wine journalists says: "I gave the 67 Casteller Beerenauslese 20 out of 20 points at a Silvaner tasting in 1994, then I bought 2 bottles, opened one of them a couple of years later, then forgot it in the fridge and after I realized that I still had it in the fridge I tried it again and thought it was simply delicious. Afterwards, I decided to turn that into a long-term project. Yesterday I opened the BA again (still about 0,15 liters left) and I really did not taste any difference from the freshly opened bottle. It is really incredible how solid this BA is". (aw.yoopress)
*Niederfall: Popular term in middle- and lower Franconia for the last period of farming work, particularly the picking time and particularly a term for the traditional celebration of vintagers at the end of the picking season.