Winemaker stories

Whose Wine is it? Meet Paul and Alexander, the counts von Schönborn

The wine producers of the month are Paul Graf von Schönborn-Wiesentheid, owner of family business Schloss Schönborn in Rheingau and founding member of the Verband Deutscher Prädikatsweingüter, and his son Alexander. Their philosophy is to create contemporary wines through natural cultivation methods, and the domain is known for always placing particular emphasis on quality, Rheingau typicality and diversity of sites.

Meet Paul and Alexander, the counts von Schönborn

Estate: Schloss Schönborn

Region: Rheingau

Village: the municipality of Hattenheim

Focus: Riesling, Spätburgunder and Weissburgunder


The wine-growing tradition of the counts of Schönborn traces its origin back to the middle ages, to 1349 in the Rheingau wine district. However, documents have been found that show evidence of vineyard ownership of this noble family in the village of Winkel dating back even further, to the 13:th century. This makes Schloss Schönborn the oldest winery in the world that is headed by the same family, for 28 generations. The Schönborns were one of the first to fill their hand-picked wines in mouth-blown bottles as early as 1725. A 1735 ”Johannisberger” from the domain’s cellars is one of the earliest known bottled wines in Germany and still sets the standard for the most expensive wine in Germany. It was auctioned in 1987 for 53,000 Deutsche Mark (about 27.000 € today), and when opened and tasted, the wine was golden yellow, clear and light with only a slight deposit.

Since 1998, after completing his studies in the USA, Paul Graf von Schönborn –Wiesentheid has managed the medium-sized company, which includes not only the wineries, but also other agriculture and forestry as well as real estate. His son Alexander, born in 1991 and the second of seven children, co-manages the winery with his father since 2016. Thanks to his Italian mother, and his half Portuguese, half German father, Alexander has had quite an international upbringing, and has despite his young age already studied and worked in many wineries abroad to gain experience and inspiration to take back home to Hattenheim.


Many of the vineyards along the slopes bordering the Rhine River have been part of the Schönborn family estate since 1349, and have been added to continuously since then.  Several top sites were acquired in the 17th and 18th centuries, giving the estate a real boost. In 1805, the Franconian winery – Schloss Hallburg – came into the possession of the family. It is a historic property, with the foundation of the castle tower dating back to the year 1000.

Today the winery sources it´s grapes from three different estates. The “Graf von Schönborn” winery in Hallburg in Franconia runs under the umbrella of the Count of Schönborn, as does the “Schloss Schönborn” winery in Hattenheim in Rheingau, and Portuguese “Casa Cadaval”, which is run by Countess Teresa von Schönborn, Paul´s sister. Since early 2021 the Hattenheim vineyards are leased to Gunter Künstler, a well known winemaker in the Riesling community of the area.

The vast majority of the vineyards, that encount around 50 hectares of land, are of course Riesling, and Silvaner in Franconia, but the amount of Spätburgunder and Weissburgunder, as well as Müller Thurgau and Bacchus, is growing steadily. The average yields are kept low (50 hl/ha), resulting in wines with good concentration and stable structure.

The wines

Although traditional Rieslings have been in focus for the Schönborns, the ever-concerning issue of climate change has led to some experimenting. New clones are being tried out, as are different red varieties. Spätburgunder is for example, according to Alexander, a very good variety for the Rheingau. When asked about the wines, Alexander stresses the importance of starting at the beginning when getting acquainted with the winery. The Schönborn cellars, that have recently been enlarged and modernized, contain more than 450,000 bottles – but their “Gutsriesling”, the estate Riesling, is still the foundation of the winery. He therefore suggests tasting the Graf von Schönborn Riesling Trocken, which defines the style and purity of their wines, featuring elegance as well as freshness and acidity that brings to mind green apples and citrus fruits.

The winery however has a unique portfolio of currently 38 individual vineyards, of which more than 80% are classified as Erste Lage or Grosse Lage, and offers lots to discover. Names like ”Marcobrunn” (that has up to 85 years old vines), ”Pfaffenberg”, ”Nussbrunnen”, ”Berg Schlossberg” or ”Domdechaney” stretch like a pearl necklace from Hochheim via Hattenheim all the way to Rüdesheim. These are wines that have been making the hearts of wine lovers beat faster for decades, and for sure will continue to do so also in the future.

Tutustu lähemmin www.weingut-schloss-schoenborn.de

Maahantuoja Suomessa: AMKA Oy

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