Weinbaudomäne Niederhausen-Schloßböckelheim: The Copper Side of RieslingThis hill has become famous for the prophetress Hildegard von Bingen, but the Disibodenberg in Odernheim on the Nahe river also has an ages old history of viticulture. Traces on the southern slope point to Roman grapevines that once grew on the Disibodenberg.
Where now exceptional Riesling grapevines grow, copper ore once was prospected: The vineyard site "Schlossböckelheimer Kupfergrube" was up to 1901 exactly what the name tells: a copper mine. In 1901, the Prussian state bought the whole area, planished the mining waste and built terraces which were stocked with grapevines. In 1914, the experimental vineyard (Versuchsweinberg) was completed. It became world famous in 1921 when in that legendary vintage a Riesling Trockenbeerenauslese was harvested on copper mountain that reached a fabulous 380 degree Öchsle.
Until today, Riesling remains the main theme of the viticultural estate of Niederhausen-Schlossböckelheim. It was the Romans who, according to sources, brought viticulture to the valley of the Nahe river. In written documents, viticulture is first mentioned in 1128 in a property list of the Monastery on the Rupertsberg: In that list, vineyards are recorded to exist in the community then called Böckelheim.
In 1901, the Prussian state had started to buy the steep, rocky and fissured slopes along the Nahe river. Viticulture in Germany at that time suffered heavily from diseases and rodents, above all the phylloxera. Many wine growers gave up, whole estates were abandoned. In this situation, the Prussian state founded governmental wine growing estates to create model plants that set examples in economy and wine quality – to save the good reputation of German wine.
The first clearing activities for those estates along the Nahe river started in 1902, in 1903, the first Riesling grapevines were planted. In 1907, the first harvest of the still young plants took place, a rather premature and youthful wine. In 1911, however, already the first outstanding vintage was vinified and finally, in 1921, the estate was ranged among the best wine estates in Germany with its legendary vintage of 1921. The estate also was one of the founding fathers of the VDP, the Association of German Quality and Prädikat Wine Estates, in 1910 – and still remains a member up to present day.
When the State of Rhenania-Palatinate took over in 1946, the governmental estate remained a place of research for wine quality and wine cultivation. For the first time, the researchers experimented with (Kaltvergärung), fertilizers and pesticides and bred the famous Riesling clone with the number DN 500. Until today, that clone is appreciated for his high (Mostgewicht) and harvest quantities (Mostgewichts- und Ertragsleistung) while at the same time providing highly fruity wines.
Since the summer of 2009, the winery is run under the name of Gut Hermannsberg by the entrepreneur Jens Reidel who named the estate after its most precious vineyard site, the Hermannsberg in Niederhausen. The six vineyards are all classified as top level sites according to the VDP-classification, 95 percent of the grapevines are Riesling grapes. The old cellar and administrative building from 1910 were restored to its old Art Nouveau splendor. Underneath, two cellars stretch out to a length of 90 meters which hold the modern vinification equipment but also many a wine treasure: In the treasury, right next to the cellar with the oak barrels, wines from as old as 1907 are cherished.