Wolfberger is a union of producers located in Eguisheim, south of Colmar. The city was also the home of Pope Leo IX, the Reformer (Pope from 1048 – 1054 A.D.). The winery was founded in 1902 when a group of wine-growers in Eguisheim decided to join forces to create one of the first cooperatives in Alsace. The cave counts 420 members today. Wolfberger combines tradition and constant innovation to elaborate high quality wines and preserve their typicity.
Winery Acreage: 2965 acres (1200 hectares)
Varietals Produced: Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Riesling, Gewurstraminer, Muscat, Pinot Noir, Pinot Auxerrois
The resident oenologist at Wolfberger is Jerome Keller since 2011. His predecessors were Stephan Grappe who made the wine from 2009 up until 2011, and Bertrand Praz was the oenologist prior to 2009. Bertrand Praz was a young but extremely capable winemaker, he learned his craft at the famous Dijon wine school and from working at the Mumm Champagne House. He has taken huge strides in raising the quality level here. They also take their evaluative wine tasting very seriously and have a highly efficient set-up for tasters. The amphitheatre style classroom has individual wine-tasting desks each with light, spit bowl and automatic water faucet.
With 1200 hectares (2,965 acres), 500 hectares of which are in and around Eguisheim, there is a lot of raw material for a specialty importer to choose from. Pinot Blanc has been known in Alsace since the 16th century. Today it covers 22% of the vineyards and is the second most important variety after Riesling. It succeeds well in most soils and enjoys the dry microclimate of the area. The grapes are gathered in vineyards situated above Eguisheim and in surrounding villages.
Rangen is the most southerly vineyard in Alsace and belongs to the towns of Thann and Vieux-Thann. This mountainside vineyard ranges from 340 to 470 m in altitude, and its slopes are extremely steep (up to 85%), with dark, stony soil, where harvesting resembles mountain climbing because the grape-pickers work from top to bottom, secured with harnesses and ropes. The grapes are brought down on sledges.
The river Thur which flows at its base helps to preserve it from spring frosts. From the geological point of view, Rangen is immediately adjacent to the main Vosges fault and lies on the Devonian-Carboniferous volcano-clastic base. This gives a siliceous rock, more or less coarse sand, with acid and basic minerals, fertilizing elements for the soil: Ca, K, Mg, Mn, Fe, F, P, S, with trace elements. Rangen is the only vineyard in Alsace on volcano-clastic rocks.
Since 1874, Wolfberger distillery carefully nurtures tradition and excellence in its pursuit of the fine art of distilling. Proud of a heritage stretching back over a century, the company produces a wide selection of brandies rich in flavor and aromas. Wolfberger blends new and traditional skills in its constant search for new tastes to satisfy the most sophisticated of palates. To ensure that only the finest fruits go into the brandies, they have planted a total of 1,000 hectares of orchards growing cherries, Williams pears and raspberries.
Made from sun-drenched fruits, Wolfberger eaux-de-vie are made in strict accordance with traditional small-scale distilling methods which have been handed down from generation to generation. The fruits are carefully selected to ensure the highest quality. Another characteristic of the distillery is the impressively wide variety it has to offer, with 28 eaux-de-vie made from fruits and wild berries to choose from.