Domaine Weinbach, Alsace, France – winery with heritage from Capuchin friars

Тази статия може да я прочетете и на: Български

 At the foot of the majestic hill going by the name of Schlossberg, surrounded by vines and roses, lies Domaine Weinbach. Named after the little stream which runs through the property and planted with vines since the IX-th century.

Domaine Weinbach

There is no better way to describe the first impression of Domaine Weinbach than the one on their official website, which we dare to quote above. Indeed, this is the closest to our dream vision of a winery in Alsace. We have always found a special charm in the wineries that are located in the middle of their vineyards, rather than in inhabited areas. And despite it is really close to the main road between Kaysersberg and Kientzheim, the best way to reach Domaine Weinbach is by foot, as we did.

The vineyards between Kientzheim and Kaysersberg with Schlossberg Grand Cru vineyard in the background
The vineyards between Kientzheim and Kaysersberg with Schlossberg Grand Cru vineyard in the background – Alsace, France

We left the car in Kientzheim, on the parking at the western end of the village, near the exit to Kaysersberg. The distance between Kientzheim and Kaysersberg is no more than 2 km and we passed by this road several times. Each time we saw the sign for Domain Weinbach but each time we missed the road to the winery. Finally, we decided to park in Kientzheim and walk. So, we took the small roads that divide the vineyards like a fine lace, allowing local winegrowers to service their estates and visitors on bikes and foot to enjoy the beauty and soul of this region of France.

Walking towards Domaine Weinbach
Walking towards Domaine Weinbach

It took us about 10 minutes of walking from the parking to the winery. First we passed by the almost ripe Pinot Noir rows and Maria did not miss to try the grape. Approaching the gates of Domaine Weinbach, alongside the small stream flowing through the whole estate, the plantations change to Riesling. Then we pass through the once glorious gate, half of which has survived until nowadays.

Domaine Weinbach - winery in Alsace France
Domaine Weinbach – winery in Alsace, France

A river through many ages

The small brook which could be easily mistook for an irrigation channel flows through the whole property and is an important participant in the history of the place. The area has been planted with vineyards since the 9th century. In 1612 Capuchin friars established a monastery and winery there and the estate became known as the Clos de Capucins. The name Domaine Weinbach was given after the small river (weinbach means “wine brook” in German language).

The "wine river" at Domaine Weinbach, Alsace, France
The “wine river”

During the French Revolution the estate was sold as national property. In 1898 it was acquired by brothers Theodor and Jean Baptiste Faller. Later it was inherited by Théo Faller, their son and nephew, who became one of the most prominent figures in Alsace wine production in the 20th century. A strong defender of quality wine production, he developed and expanded Domaine Weinbach. In 1979 he was inherited by wife Collette and daughters Catherine and Laurence, who continued the family’s mission to create great wines of Alsace, bearing the spirit and taste of their terroir. Since 2016 Catherine Faller has led the estate, together with her sons.

The artistic spirit of Domaine Weinbach

We ring the bell, slightly confused about whether this is the right entrance to the winery. Catherine welcomes us – a smiling and dignified woman, slightly hurried, but extremely polite and expecting us. We had wrote an email a week earlier that we wanted to visit the estate. They reserved a time slot for us because the stream of visitors never stops at Domaine Weinbach. Moreover, they were in the middle of harvest in early September.

We entered the semi-dark reception room – an exquisite room aristocratic look, which, by photographs and paintings, tells and shows the story of the Faller family an the winery. Catherine apologised that she needed to leave us alone for a while, but we took our time to catch with our eyes every detail of the room, to see the photos and enjoy the beautiful old furniture. We were feeling like guests of a noble family from the early 20th century.

Domaine Weinbach from the inside
Domaine Weinbach from the inside
The reception room of Domaine Weinbach
The reception room of Domaine Weinbach

Grape above all

Catherine was obviously very busy but still managed to spend some time with us and tell us about the estate and the vineyards, some of which we had already visited. All the vineyards owned by Domaine Weinbach are cultivated by the methods of organic and biodynamic production. The winery has both the Ecocert (organic) and the Demeter (biodynamic) certifications.

Biodynamic viticulture respects life, stimulates biological activity and natural balances in our soils, and ultimately, enables our terroirs to express themselves through our grapes and magnifies their sensory characteristics.

Vines which are cultivated in accordance to these methods harmonise with their environment (laboured soil and air); they produce natural and complex fruit, therefore the wine is more authentic, and purely unique

Domaine Weinbach official website
Riesling at Domaine Weinbach
Riesling at Domaine Weinbach

Winemaking is also oriented around natural processes. The fermentation occurs in old casks with native yeasts and sometimes lasts for months, even until June the following year. Minimal intervention but constant attention – this is the main principle, which allows the grape to reveal the best of it.

The terroirs of Domaine Weinbach

Speaking about Alsatian wine, it is always about the terroir. When choosing wine for ourselves, we usually think first about the grape variety and the technology and leave the origin of the grapes behind. But in Alsace the variety and terroir have equal importance. It is probably not by chance that most wine labels in Alsace do not count on fancy images and designs but are rather simplistic, containing the grape variety and the terroir of origin. Here blends are not very popular and few people speak of technology. Instead, the sparkle and passion in the eyes of wine producers, speaking of their terroirs, is a memorable experience.

Domain Weinbach has plantations in 6 different terroirs: Clos de Capucins, Grand Cru Schlossberg, Grand Cru Furstentum, Grand Cru Mambourg, Grand Cru Marckrain и Altenbourg.

Clos des Capucins is the historical vineyard surrounding the winery, with sand silt soil on granite pebbles. It is planted with all Alsatian grape varieties. Clos des Capucins is an early-ripening terroir producing fruit-forward wines.

The buildings of Domain Weinbach amidst Clos des Capucins vineyard
The buildings of Domain Weinbach amidst Clos des Capucins vineyard

Grand Cru Schlossberg is the beautiful hill overlooking Domaine Weinbach, the first Grand Cru terroir of Alsace and one of the best ones so far. On a granite bedrock of migmatites, the soil is sandy, rich in minerals, quite shallow at higher altitudes (400m), deeper at the bottom (230m). The richness and diversity of the elements which can be found here (potassium, magnesium, fluorine, phosphorus) determine the finesse and the aromatic complexity of the wines. Its steep slopes facing south ensure a lot of sun year-round so the Schlossberg is a perfect terroir for the late-ripening Riesling.

Gran Cru Schlossberg
Gran Cru Schlossberg

Grand Cru Furstentum became our favourite vineyard in the area because of its marvellous views. Moreover, after our first wine tasting in another winery, the wines from Furstentum were somehow closest to our taste. This is the perfect terroir for Gewurztraminer grapes.

Furstentum Grand Cru, overlooking Altenbourg vineyard and the villages of Kientzheim and Ammerschwihr
Furstentum Grand Cru, overlooking Altenbourg vineyard and the villages of Kientzheim and Ammerschwihr

Grand Cru Mambourg , over the village of Sigolsheim, has soils of calcium and magnesium, with a base of limestone conglomerates and marl of the tertiary period. The grapes from Mambourg give full-bodied wines with well-developed complex aromas.

Altenbourg is the vineyard just below Furstentum. The soil is mainly marl, sandstone and limestone, similar to the soil found on the Furstentum, but with more sand and a faster ripening process. The Altenbourg produces wonderful Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris and Gewurztraminer.

The wines of Domaine Weinbach

When they ask us how many wines we would like to taste, we always wonder what to say. Catherine had obviously decided to show us everything and after we became seated on the table, she brought the first bottle – Sylvaner 2019.

Local varieties

Sylvaner 2019 was a very light, fresh and tender wine, a great start. Taste of green apples and peaches, aromas of ripe fruits. The grape comes from 45 year-old vines in the Clos de Capucins. We so much liked it that we took a bottle with us.

Sylvaner 2019, Domaine Weinbach Alsace France
Sylvaner 2019, Domaine Weinbach Alsace France

Pinot Blanc 2019 was another fresh wine with more citrus notes.

Les Vignes du Precheur 2019 was one of the few blends we tasted in Alsace. A combination of Riesling, Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, Muscat and Sylvaner. Voluminous, mineral and a bit spritzy.

Les Vignes du Precheur 2019 - Domaine Weinbach
Les Vignes du Precheur 2019 – Domaine Weinbach

Riesling

Riesling 2019 from the Clos is from 45-old vines, quite mineral with notes of banana and mango.

The old vines at Clos des Capucins
The old vines at Clos des Capucins

The following wine was again Riesling, but from the foot of Schlossberg, vintage 2018. It felt more like grapefruit zest, citrus and minerality.

Riesling Schlossberg 2018 was again mineral, but with even more citrus and lemon.

Schlossberg Riesling 2018
Schlossberg Riesling 2018

Pinot Gris

Next came Pinot Gris 2019 from the Clos, again from old vines. It had more notes of sweet and ripe fruits, apple-like acidity and a bit of bitterness at the end.

Pinot Gris 2018 combined grapes from two places – Clos des Capucins and Schlossberg. The feeling was citrus and a bit spritzy.

Pinot Gris from Domaine Weinbach
Pinot Gris from Domaine Weinbach
Grand Cru Schlossberg and the buildings of Domaine Weinbach down right
Grand Cru Schlossberg and the buildings of Domaine Weinbach down right

We were already stunned by all the tastes and aromas that came from the above bottles when the time came for one of the most noble grape varieties of Alsace – Gewurztraminer. Here winemakers like to make it rich in flavours and tastes and often a bit sweet.

Gewurztraminer

Gewurztraminer 2018 from the foot of Altenbourg was semi-sweet, with strong aromas of flowers. It would definitely go well with a fatty fist, Asian dish or strong tasting cheese.

Gewurztraminer 2019 from the Altenbourg was quite different – a little smokey and with strong minerality.

Alltenbourg Gewurztraminer 2019 - Domaine Weinbach
Alltenbourg Gewurztraminer 2019 – Domaine Weinbach

Although we were offered the most exquisite Gewurztraminer last and there was another wine before it, we will mention it here. Here it is – Gewurztraminer from Grand Cru Furstentum, shining with richness, charm, aromas, feelings that are hard to describe. It was a wonderful, memorable and noble finish of our tasting.

Gewürztraminer from Furstentum
Gewürztraminer from Furstentum

Pinot Noir

It was the penultimate wine we tasted and the only red in the row. We immediately fell in love with its aromas of cherries and the tender feeling. The grape is vintage 2018 from Altenbourg, fermented and matured for 15 months in oak casks. We were enchanted by this wine and it was the second bottle we took for home.

Pinot Noir Altenbourg from Domaine Weinbach
Pinot Noir Altenbourg 2018 from Domaine Weinbach
The pinot noir from Domaine Weinbach
The pinot noir from Domaine Weinbach

Back through the vineyards

While tasting the wonderful wines of Domaine Weinbach one after another and taking notes, we could not stay indifferent to the busy life in the winery around us – a normal thing for the harvesting season in early September. Catherine was busy, trying to welcome and serve all the curious visitors like us. We were curiously looking around, admiring the aristocratic room with the fireplace and the artistic spirit in the air. But we left with only two bottles because of the limits in our luggage.

We took some more photos in the vineyards, by the river. overlooking the Schlossberg hill. Maria tried some more grapes from the vines and we headed to the airport. Things had someone went in the perfect order.

Despite we had bought our tickets to Alsace withouth much planning and without clear idea what to do, we had a beautiful wine-culinary trip. It started with our meeting with Philippe Blanck and the terroirs of Alsace and finished with the aristocratic Domaine Weinbach. In between, we had our first Michelin-starred experience. Then we tried traditional sauerkraut in another restaurant and made a tour through some of the most picturesque towns of Alsace – Ammerschwihr, Kientzheim, Kaysersberg, Ribeauville, Riquewihr, Eguisheim. We even climbed to the Schlossberg castle even though we were dressed for a fancy dinner.

Alsace made us do a lot of things but at the same time we felt relaxed and not pressured. And we left in wonderful and relaxed mood, with big smiles.

In the vineyards of Alsace
In the vineyards of Alsace
Booking.com
Instagram Andrey Andreev PhotographyIn our Instagram account we share more photos and thoughts from our trips and daily life, so if you are curious, follow us there, too.

Subscribe to our mailing list

View previous campaigns.

Copyrighted Image