An Estate by the Sea. In Rheinhessen? Of Course! 40 million years ago, anyways. During that epoch, the northern section of Rheinhessen known today as the Mainz Basin was actually part of the Tertiary sea. It was an age in which continents shifted, mountains rose from the ground and a large coral reef took shape in the place where we now live and our grapes grow. The reef has long since disappeared, of course, but its legacy remains — especially in the high limestone content of the soil it left behind.
For us it is a true gift, with those limestone remnants serving as the distinctive foundation for our wines. Tasting their almost unbelievable life and energy, one is reminded that the greatest of Burgundian wines thrive on limestone as well. Each and every grape variety we grow at our estate flourishes in these ancient coral reefs. Riesling, as it turns out, is an unparalleled translator of this kind of soil.
Appenheim serves as a confluence for those elements we love so much: our beloved limestone vineyards — Hundertgulden, Laurenziberg, and Steinacker — and our Riesling. We tend to our vines deliberately but conservatively, spending hundreds of hours in the vineyards each year. This philosophy of care and consistency ultimately helps the wines better tell their own story. A story of their origin and our obsession.
49°55‘32.8“N 8°2‘30.3“E. We are born and bred Rhenish-Hessians, or as we locals say, Rhoihesse. It’s the largest winegrowing region in Germany, but just as importantly: it is geologically diverse, with each sub-region featuring a range of soils and micro-climates. One might find warm temperatures and heavy clay soils in the Wonnegau, rotliegend slate in the Rheinfront hills, porphyry soils in Rheinhessen's "Little Switzerland" and diverse coral limestone in the cool north in and around Appenheim.
Rheinhessen is shaped like a triangle, with the cities of Bingen, Mainz and Worms at its extremes. Our estate sits near the northwest corner. The Westerberg hills rise near Bingen, and it is their topography that shapes the Welzbach Valley and our home town of Appenheim. It's more than just a question of aesthetics; the landscape reflects the variable terroir below the soil, which also forms the character of our hillside vineyards. Our estate sits just below our finest vineyard, the Hundertgulden. It's a spot that enjoys an unobstructed view into the valley, out onto the Westerberg and far across the land to Ingelheim and the Rhine.
don't fall far
from the vine
The estate holds 20 ha of vineyards planted predominantly with Riesling and other Pinot varieties.Life partner Corina and brother Björn have since joined the estate, and together with Tobias form the Knewitz team. Father Gerold is a steady presence, ready to support wherever needed with his hands and head.
“Only wine allows
people truly to understand
the taste of the earth.” - Colette
Location, location, location. Even well into the 1970s, the site name on the label was the deciding factor. Many labels bore only the vineyard name and wines were judged primarily based on the renown of their vineyard - as is common in Burgundy even today. For a time, however, that reverence for the vineyard appeared in danger of extinction. A generational shift and the growing international popularity of German wine has helped the vineyard once again regain its prominence. After all, the origin is the basis for potential quality, while the grape is the decisive interpreter.
"Only wine allows people truly to understand the taste of the earth," French author Colette once wrote. We agree. We love the diversity of our soils, where a high limestone content serves as the common thread. It is the white gold that brings our wines purity and precision, together with a bracing acidity and a delightful refreshing character. The Goldberg, Hundertgulden, Honigberg, Steinacker, Eselspfad and Laurenziberg may all have descended from the same tertiary reefs, but each clearly demonstrates its own distinctive character.
The Hundertgulden is our most prized vineyard and — we believe — one of the best in all of Rheinhessen. It was mentioned in 1148 as a gift to the Disibodenberg Monastery, placing it among the class of very old and highly venerated monastery vineyards. The site was named in the 14th century, when it changed hands many times for a healthy sum of gold Rhenish Gulden coins.
The steep site, which runs up the hillside behind our vineyard, features a deep layer of tertiary limestone, with the topsoil comprised of calcareous marl and chalky clay. The showpiece parcel of the Hundertgulden has been declared the most limestone-rich vineyard in all of Germany. Rieslings grown here brim with pure energy surrounding a powerful mineral core. The wines are complex, long-lived and enchant with a spirited freshness.
The Goldberg lies directly next to the Appenheimer Hundertgulden, yet officially belongs to the neighboring town of Gau-Algesheim. The parcels in the heart of this south-by-southwest-facing vineyard are the warmest of any in our holdings. The climate and the limestone-rich marl soils imbue wines grown here with a rich gold color, tropical and yellow fruit aromas and a deep mineral structure. Riesling is dominant here, with a few Chardonnay vines as well.
Mentioned for the first time in official documents in 1362, the Steinacker vineyard flows around the town of Nieder-Hilbersheim. Our vineyards are on the north slope of the Steinacker, at roughly 245 meters of elevation in a sheltered parcel near the edge of the forest. These are our coolest parcels, comprised of an unusually stony soil. On the one hand, Rieslings grown in the limestone and iron ore-rich soils present a complex, pure, taut and spicy nature, differentiating them significantly from the Hundertgulden vineyards. On the other hand, these same attributes perpetually lend a stunning acidity, tension and smoky minerality to the grapes for our Chardonnay "Réserve." Steinacker may not be our most famous vineyard, but we view it as absolutely playing at the Cru level.
The subsoil contains the same Tertiary limestone bedrock that is present in all of our vineyards. The Eselspfad's topsoil is loess: a deep yet light clay soil that is especially hospitable to Weißburgunder and Silvaner but which welcomes Riesling as well. At the south end of this Appenheimer site, whose documented history stretches back to 1375, stand old vines that produce only a low number of small berries. Yet year after year they perform beautifully. They offer not only stunning yellow fruits, but also a robust body and texture, rich in concentration and depth.
The Honigberg also abuts the Hundertgulden, except in this case to the southeast in the Nieder-Hilbersheim district. Remnants of the chalky soil can be found here as well, but on the whole the soil is somewhat heavier and more clayey, with red limestone and iron ore. The name suggests that Hunnic varieties may well have stood here once upon a time. The locals apparently referred to it that way, and eventually the site became known as "zu hönningen," which is how it was first recorded in official documents in 1740. For us, the Honigberg is an integral piece of our vineyard portfolio. Wines grown here show a deep power and spice, be they Riesling, Pinot Blanc or Chardonnay.
This south-facing vineyard site sits just below the baroque St. Laurenzikirche in Gau-Algesheim, at an elevation of approx. 200 meters. It was named after the Laurenzikapelle, which was first mentioned in the 7th century but was replaced by the baroque Wallfahrtskirche in the 18th century. Clayey marl and clay loess-loam lie atop a bedrock of Tertiary limestone. The cool micro-climate here fosters delicate Rieslings with a playful acidity and light grace.
The real thing
The Real Thing. We admit that we may lack objectivity when it comes to our favorite grape variety, but it is our conviction that Riesling is the noblest of white wine grapes. It simply may be that Riesling is what we grew up with and what we know best. Riesling was here long before we were, and has dominated our work as well as the labors of our ancestors.
Does any other variety even come close to expressing its origins with such precision and clarity — the soil, the climate, the aspect and elevation, the weather conditions and, taken together, a picture of the vintage as a whole? Does any other variety offer the versatility to be vinified as dry, off-dry, mild or sweet, as sparkling or still at any level of classification; a variety capable of aging for decades and — in some cases — centuries?
Riesling possesses stunning elegance, yet rarely forces its way to center stage. Power and weight — we'll leave that to the other varieties. In its fruit-forward youth, Riesling enchants, at times with grace and elegance, at times with charm and a playful nature. Given some time to mature, a more complex range of aromas emerges and beguiles.
We like our Rieslings timeless. They begin in the vineyard and our job is to guide them through the cellar. We give them time in traditional large oak vats, time to be still and develop their full potential and complexity.
Every peak needs a proper base. Our portfolio is divided into 3 classifications: Gutswein, Ortswein and Lagenwein. Starting from the base of this quality pyramid, which draws on the Burgundian model, each subsequent quality level represents more precision in its origin and our style, and greater potential from the village, the vineyard and the variety.
The range opens with the Gutswein, a beautiful introduction to the cool character and the limestone-rich soil of the Welzbachtal; our village-level Ortswein highlight the distinctive soil formations of the individual towns; and the Lagenwein shine a spotlight on the full potential of the very special vineyards in and around Appenheim.
Riesling is without question the calling card of our estate. For this varietal reflects the limestone and chalk soils of our home like nothing else. It walks a fine line between young stone fruit flavors, mineral spice and herbal accents. At the same time, it is linear, independent and laced with a bright, refreshing acidity — always rich in character and enticingly fresh.
For hundreds of years now, Grüner Silvaner has called Rheinhessen home. And of course this spicy and nimble wine is the go-to when it comes to German "spargel" (asparagus). But we believe it is capable of far more than just that. It is the ideal, easy-drinking end to a long, hard day — serve, settle back and savor!
Soil, Variety, Expression, Pinot: This Weißer Burgunder (Pinot Blanc) opens with ripe, yellow fruits on a rich, juicy palate. A refreshing acidity runs throughout, paired with a fine spice, delicate structure and mineral veins. Each is a reflection of limestone terroir in which it was grown.
Chardonnay and limestone are peas in a pod. The soil lends the wine a stony minerality, a crisp freshness and a lively nature; elegant roast aromas from the barrel aging; and the nutty reductive aromas of the Chardonnay with a creamy texture and subtle fruits. This little brother to the "Réserve" delivers a beautiful reflection of the terroir, of intense spice and ultimately a clear expression of the variety.
A refreshing wine of incredible juiciness and fun. With a nose of freshly mowed grass and limes, gooseberries and passionfruit. On the palate it shows loads of fruit flavors underscored with fine bitter nuances, minerality and a mouthwatering acidic kick that leaves you eager for a second glass.
We like our rosé with a bit of bite. Not to mention pale red fruits in the nose, and a delicate spiciness: Summer, sun and dry rosé!
Our Gutswein are the gateway into our program and thus build the foundation of our collection. These wines blend the freshness and fruitiness of youth with their Rheinhessen roots, and reflect the characteristics of the variety, the vintage and the vineyards. They deliver a clear statement on how we believe wine should be made and a small preview of our ‘bigger’ wines — a bit like an amuse-bouche from the chef to set the stage and familiarize you with the style of our ‘kitchen.’
Appenheimer Riesling Kalkstein
This limestone-grown Appenheimer Riesling is pure and unwaveringly dry, with aromas of wild herbs and stone fruits. The limestone lends the Rieslings a stony spice, mingled with a lively minerality, tension and salinity. Year after year we continue to be awed by the long, lingering finish that this stunning vineyard gives to the wine: a Riesling to indulge and explore.
Nieder-Hilbersheimer Riesling Eisenerz
The combination of limestone and iron ore lends the wine its distinctive character. This is, for us, the epitome of a mineral wine: the focus is on the soil rather than the fruit. This Riesling is clarion, precise, cool and uncompromising; it unflinching bares its mineral core, elegant and nuanced.
The small, concentrated berries of the Appenheimer Silvaner create a dense wine with finely integrated fruits. Graceful and elegant, this wine entices with a mild juiciness and stunning length. Balanced and taut on the palate, with a firm acidity that guides each sip from start to finish.
Appenheimer Weißer Burgunder
This powerful Weißburgunder (Pinot Blanc) from our Appenheim vineyards is simultaneously dense and refreshing. Subtle notes of white flowers and ripe nuts are balanced by a classic and refreshing Burgundian restraint. Simultaneously, it blends incredible momentum on the palate with a salty minerality from the limestone-rich soil: a taut, serious and sophisticated Ortswein, graced with just the right dose of charm.
We consider this Pinot to be the dark horse of our collection. Expansive cherry fruits are joined with dark chocolate, cherry stones and sandalwood nuanced with cedar, thyme and other essential oils and balsamic notes. Juicy and balanced with elegant spice accents and silky tannins on the palate: not a trace of heavy oak or over-extract, rather just the right amount of rouge to entice and the curves to seduce.
Our village wines come from the best sites around Appenheim. They are considerably more clarion, cool, taut and distinctive than the Gutswein. With their clear village and terroir character they are, in a sense, "mini-lagenweine." The intensity of their character promises incredible rewards for adequate time and patience.
Top vineyard — 43% pure limestone — steep vineyard
Stone fruit, wet stone and an herbal spiciness open this focused limestone Riesling. The Hundertgulden influence is unmistakable. Full of power and body, yet electric in its strength — an athlete without a single extra gram of fat, resolutely dry and absolutely puristic. A grand Riesling from the hills of Rheinhessen, with a long beautiful future to come.
Medium aged vines — iron ore and limestone — from our coolest vineyards
This Steinacker Riesling shows a stony, cool complexity behind a puristic, linear core. Herbal spice dominates the nose while the grippy palate is backed with a mineral bite and plenty of sass. The acidity runs true from the first sip to the final saline finish in this wine rich with expression, elegance and nuance.
Old vines — warm vineyard — clay marl soils
The intense limestone spice is a constant, running through the nose and palate of the Goldberg. Full-bodied, powerful and warm: a Riesling with a fine acidity, ripe yellow fruits and a stunning depth. Polished, curvy and serious with a long, lingering finish.
ESELSPFAD Weißer Burgunder
Old vines — tiny grapes — limestone with loess
Yellow fruit laced with nuances of hay and fresh herbs shine through the range of Pinot aromas. Gentle barrel spice lends the fruit structure and enhances the complexity. The Eselspfad delivers a powerful, bone dry and concentrated wine imbued with a lightly smoky finish: a wine with remarkable character and expression.
Middle-aged vines grown in iron ore and limestone — from the coolest vineyards
Rheinhessen's "Little Burgundy" is located on the cool edges of the Steinacker forest and produces smoky, powerful and pure Chardonnays. The wine shows slightly reductive in its youth with a subtle barrel influence laced with gentle roasted notes. These aromatics provide the framework for an intensive, salty minerality and a clear yet serious fruit. On the palate, the Chardonnay joins power and body with a pure, minimal elegance. Our "Réserve" is a wine of exceptional depth and length, full-bodied with clear contours.
Lagenwein (Single Vineyard)
The Cru-quality single sites at the heart of our Welzbachtal vineyards are planted almost exclusively with old vines. The wines grown here are true renditions of their terroir, liquid representations of each individual vineyard and site. Should you line up Rieslings from the Hundertgulden, Goldberg and Steinacker vineyards next to one another, you will marvel at how much the different sites shape each bottle. We are — if we may be so bold — incredibly proud of them. They embody a clear, authentic expression of our philosophy: wines from limestone that are expressive, complex and lively, with exceptional cellarability.