Anyone who drinks wine from the Georg Müller Stiftung winery is contributing to a charitable cause, as the town of Eltville donates the income it receives from the winery to local social service institutions.
The village of Hattenheim, part of the city of Eltville, is situated between Wiesbaden and Rüdesheim and has a lot to offer. Renovated timbered houses, a luxury hotel, three top restaurants, five top wineries, the ruins of a castle and the large wine barrels of the wine estate on the banks of the Rhine are sights worth seeing in this small community. In 1882 Georg Müller – co-owner of the sparkling wine producer Matheus Müller in Eltville – founded a winery in Hattenheim which was soon to become one of the best in the Rheingau region. As he had no heirs, he donated his renowned winery to the town of Hattenheim in 1913. The only condition was that the revenues were to go the needy in the community, resulting in the winery becoming the Georg Müller winery trust. After Hattenheim merged with Eltville in 1972, the vineyard traded as „Weingut der Stadt Eltville“ until 2003, when the town finally decided to privatise it.
In businessman and wine expert Peter Winter they found the ideal buyer to enhance the estate’s prestige and upgrade its image. Purchasing the Georg Müller trust was the fulfilment of a professional dream for Peter Winter. This allowed the long-time chairman of the board at WIV Wein International AG (the world’s largest and highest-earning direct wine sales organisation in 2002) to combine his two passions: art and wine. He shares the first of these passions with his wife Elvira Mann-Winter, partner of the Rother-Winter gallery in Wiesbaden. Ultimately his second passion for wine stopped him from retiring. Instead, Peter Winter became a winery owner on his 60th birthday and has thrown all of his efforts and passion into producing quality wines since then.
The 71-year old remarks, “With extensive investment, I have made the winery fit for the future. Our objectives are to combine tradition with progress, to create something that the community of Hattenheim, the city of Eltville and the entire Rheingau region can be proud of and of course, to make a profit.” Following the conclusion of extensive renovation work, the winery has become one of the most significant and outstanding sights in the Rheingau region.
Peter Winter and his wife Elvira Mann-Winter have devoted particular care and attention to the vaulted cellar. As if the 250-year old cellar with its 1,400 square metres and rare wines wasn’t already fascinating enough, the works of art displayed here will distract any wine fanatic from the old wine bottles stored in the treasure chamber. There are over 1,000 square metres available for art works, giving the cellar a true museum character. The art tours in the cellar are just one of the many events to attract visitors to the winery.
Some of the art installations fill entire rooms; some of them illuminate their surroundings with bright colours, while others complement the patina of the old brickwork. There are art works by the artists Armin Baumgarten, Ulli Böhmelmann, Jacques Gassmann, José de Guimarães, Kazuo Katase, Livia Kubach & Michael Kropp, Philipp Fürhofer, Timo Ohler, Karlheinz Oswald, Nina Stoelting, Sofi Zezmer and Bernd Zimmer featured in the cellar. In most cases the artists have been inspired by the atmosphere of the cellar and have created their art works – some of very large scale – especially for the location in which they are displayed. As a result, they have transformed the winery’s cellar into an unforgettable experience.
What pleases Peter Winter most is when precious wines are created in the wine cellar. His team – built around winery manager Tim Lilienström and export manager Andreas Stiep – has already succeeded in obtaining many awards for the high quality of the wines at tastings and contests. Speaking as a businessman and marketing professional, Peter Winter says: “Awards such as the Austrian Wine Challenge, the DLG, the International Riesling Challenge Canberra, Australia, and the MUNDUS VINI are very important for marketing.” The marketing aspect is even more important for export, which Peter Winter is particularly committed to as president of the Association of German Wine Exporters.
Included in the vineyards of 14-hectares are prestigious Rheingau sites: parcels in Hattenheim’s prime areas of Schützenhaus, Wisselbrunnen, Engelmannsberg, Hassel and Nussbrunnen form part of the heritage left by Georg Müller. It is not surprising that the winery was a founding member of the Association of German Predicate Wine Estates (VDP) back in 1910. Being a member means that Peter Winter is committed to maintaining the strictest quality standards.
Riesling is the main grape for the Georg Müller trust wines: It represents 80 per cent of the grape varieties used. In addition, there is Spätburgunder (15 per cent) for the production of which new barrique barrels are purchased annually, as well as Auxerrois, Müller-Thurgau, Ehrenfelser and Frühburgunder (5 per cent all together). The vines are cultivated in an environmentally friendly way. The average yield in the last decade was less than 50 hectolitres per hectare. Of course the grapes are picked by hand as well as thinned and selectively harvested. This process makes it possible to pay very precise attention to the individual berries. To avoid bad berries hidden on the inside of the vines in difficult vintages, the picker has to test the smell of each individual vine that he cuts. This requires a lot of work, but Peter Winter offers the pickers a reward in giving them a bonus for every award or medal won for the quality of the wine, creating an additional incentive for the employees to produce their best work.
Not only the consumers and wine-pickers benefit from the new increase in quality, but also those in need in the community who are helped by the Georg Müller trust through the funds donated to Eltville social service institutions. Of course, the town’s treasurers are delighted with the lease revenue from the vineyards and licence fees for the Georg Müller trust name. And so, it is well worth enjoying a fine wine from the winery.
Weingut Georg Müller Stiftung