Interview with Gerrit Walter from Weingut Walter

Weingut Walter is a family winery from Briedel, situated in the Mosel area. Current winemaker Gerrit Walter took over the business in 2012 and continued his family’s work by making wine in one of the most interesting winegrowing areas in the world. I’ve visited his winery last summer when we we stayed in the Mosel. We stumbled on his winery on our last day and gave him a visit. Gerrit showed us his cellar en gave us a tasting. The quality of his wines truly amazed us. After harvest I gave him a call to talk about his wines.

Winemaker Gerrit Walter

Rik: Can you tell me more about your winery?

Gerrit: “My great-great-great-great grandparents started the winery in 1568. At the moment we have around seven or eight hectares on which we mainly produce Riesling, a bit of pinot noir and pinot blanc and produce around 65 thousand bottles each year.”

How would you put your family’s winemaking philosophy into words?

“We create wines in the typical Mosel fashion: light, mineral and elegant. We mainly create dry style wines, with a few more fruity* examples. To enhance this style, we harvest our grapes a bit earlier. We do this by hand so we can select healthy grapes, which result in higher quality wines.

Before pressing the grapes, we have some maceration on skin, for which it is also important to have healthy grapes. We ferment our Riesling grapes on stainless steel, for pinot noir we use larger wooden barrels."

*Winemakers in Germany tend to use the word fruity instead of sweet to indicate that the wine has more ripeness and residual sugar. They avoid the word sweet because people are biased about that word.

Gerrit's stainless steel tanks

Was it always this style?

"My family used to make a fruiter style of wine, but this changed 20-30 years ago as most Germans prefer a more dry style of wine. But, we see an increased interest in wines with a bit more residual sugar as sommeliers and wine professionals try to push these styles.”

How did you become a winemaker yourself?

“I went to Geisenheim University to study Viticulture and Oenology like most German winemakers. During this time I had a few internships at different wineries, in wine chemistry and a big cooperative. After all these moment it was clear for me that I’d love to continue my family’s business in Briedel.”

The city of Briedel next to the Mosel river

What do you like the most about your job?

“I love that I’m not only a wine maker but also running the business. I love working in the cellar, in the vineyards, but also to travel and give wine tastings at restaurants. This is different from bigger companies where you’d only work in one job at the time. The diversity of things I’m able to do within the topic of wine is amazing.”

How was the wine year of 2020 for you?

“A bit tricky because of the hail we had in the middle of August. It was a lot of work to get rid of the damaged grapes and we lost about 20%. The beginning of the season was very warm so the grapes grew very fast. The grapes we harvested were very healthy, very mineral and medium bodied. We won’t produce any fruity styles of wine like spätlese or auslese this year and had no grapes affected by botrytis**.”

**Also known als 'Noble rot', is a fungus that shrivels and decays wine grapes which allows winemakers to create 'noble sweet wines'.

Which one of your wines are your most proud of?

“I love our Briedeler riesling trocken. It’s a ‘village’ level of wine with grapes only coming from a particular part of our vineyards. It’s a very fresh and elegant style of riesling with spicy and floral aromas and a good length. Not very high in alcohol, nice acidity and very food friendly. It’ll pair amazing with a salmon salad or pumpkin soup.”

Riesling grapes from Gerrit's vineyards

If you could chose one place in the world, except for the Mosel of course, where would you’d like to make wine?

“I’d choose Champagne of Burgundy. I like the elegant style of both areas; not too high in alcohol and the right amount of oak use. This makes the comparison between Burgundy's pinot noir and Mosel's riesling easy. And I'm not the first one to love both pinot noir and riesling!"

What are your goals for the future?

“We are always looking for new fields to plant new vines for the next generation as it takes 30-40 years for the vines to be at a good level. We want to continue making light and elegant wines with high quality. We are also thinking about going organic, which can be a bit tricky in the area and it will definitely take some time. We want to take care about the vines, the soil and the future of our next generation on the steep slopes of the Mosel.”

Thanks a lot for your time!

Thanks a lot for your interest! Stay healthy!

Slate that can be found in the Mosel vineyards

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