Weingut Horst Sauer

The frost is a vintner

Ice wine from the wine-growing estate Horst Sauer

The frost is a vintner

Ice wine from the wine-growing estate Horst Sauer

Most people give it a wide birth: when it comes, they retreat into the cosy warmth of their houses, get the fire started or turn the heating up. Horst Sauer (61), on the other hand, welcomes it with open arms: frost. It is, apart from his daughter Sandra (38) – also a vintner – the vintner's most important colleague in the winter. Only if it comes early enough can the grapes left hanging on the vines be made into the sweet ice wine; otherwise, they rot on the vine. It is a game of chance – which the wine-growing family from the Horst Sauer estate is happy to play.

The Sauer family has had vines in the protective cauldron which is formed by the vineyards in Escherndorf in Franconia for three generations now. Horst Sauer: "At the top is the forest, which is almost like a winter hat. Cold air moves above our heads and warmth gathers like in a concave mirror." From above, you are rewarded with a picturesque view. Here, the Volkach loop of the River Main passes the mountains in which the 300 inhabitant municipality of Escherndorf nestles.

Wein vom Weingut Horst Sauer

No industry, no settlements disturb the view. "When I look at old pictures, I think that time has stood still here," says Horst Sauer – but that does not apply to his wine-growing estate. The modern renovations were only completed in 2006. Sandra Sauer: "The aim was to make it timeless and we used materials from the region." Shellbearing limestone, on which the wines grow, is combined with a lot of glass and steel to form a mixture of an unspoilt estate and a modern tasting centre.

A mixture of an unspoilt estate and a modern tasting centre.

Horst Sauer always had a positive attitude towards change. "It is important to be able to let go, and I can do that," he says. But it is also clear to him that it was primarily his daughter Sandra joining the business in 2004 that gave it its new momentum. "Things were going really well then and we had a lot to do," he remembers. "So I was happy to have anyone to take some of the work off my shoulders." The intergenerational conflict was defused at an early stage because of this. "Sandra also changed the quality and brought in new influences," he said. She introduced the rediscovered technique of spontaneous fermentation, in which no pure culture yeasts are added to the wine; instead, only the yeast that comes from the vineyard does the work. The wines are no longer as juicy and heavy, but are greener and more enjoyable to drink.

Weingut Horst Sauer
Sandra und Horst Sauer

Horst and Sandra Sauer make the Franconian classics such as the Silvaner together, but each of them also has their own wines. Horst Sauer's are primarily the sweet wines such as the ice wine. "For ice wine, the grapes are harvested and pressed when frozen," he explains. The frozen water remains in the grape; some of it is bound by the sugar and escapes. The must weight, i.e. the sugar content, is then increased many times over. The last time it worked for the Sauers was in 2012 because the frost came at the beginning of December and not only in January like the following years – but even so, it's not a risk.  "We only leave grapes out if we have had a good year," he says. "If it works, it is a nice bonus."

Weinkeller Horst Sauer

Weingut Horst Sauer

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address: Bocksbeutelstr. 14, 97332 Escherndorf
Tel: + 49 (0)9381 4364
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email: mail@weingut-horst-sauer.de
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web: //www.weingut-horst-sauer.de