Willi Schaefer wines are beloved. In part, it is because they are scarce, as the estate is all of 4.2 hectares with no intention to grow. The rest is explained by the wines themselves: these are wines of outstanding quality–complex, clear, and delicious.
Since 2015, Christoph Schaefer and his wife Andrea have been running this storied family winery in Graach. The pair met while studying enology at Geisenheim. Their winemaking philosophy is not much different than that of Christoph’s father or grandfather. The focus is not on numbers or analytics, but on how the grapes taste. From the harvesting of each plot, to fermentation with natural yeast, all the way through bottling, everything is done by taste and feel.
In the village of Graach, with south-to-southwest exposition, the vines have great sun exposure all day as well as a natural spring that runs through the hillside, guaranteeing good water supply even in warm vintages. The Romans already knew the benefits of Graach’s sites and cultivated vines here. In the Prussian classification of the Mosel vineyards from 1816 to 1832, Graach’s vineyards had the highest ratings. Compared to the wines just slightly northwest in Zeltingen, the wines from Graach show cooler green and white tones instead of the more orange and red hues of Wehlen and Zeltingen. These wines of Willi Schaefer reflect perfectly this unique terroir and show the distinct differences between two sites right next to each other. Domprobst is more mineral, smokier, shadowy, and takes longer to emerge, while Himmelreich is buoyant, more floral, lighter in texture, and is open from day one.
Schaefer is absolutely, without question, one of the greatest producers in Germany. These wines are a benchmark for the Mosel and are coveted not just by collectors, but by other growers.