Region: Niederhausen, Nahe
Terroir: South facing vineyard; slate, sandstone, limestone; up to 65 year old vines; warm and dry climate, low rainfall
Farming Practice: sustainable
Winemaking: fermented and matured in stainless steel vats
Dönnhoff’s holdings represent some of the best vineyards in the Nahe and all of Germany. Cornelius Dönnhoff farms ten different Grand Cru sites, including a majority of the top-rated Niederhäuser Hermannshöhle and Oberhäuser Brücke Monopole and is certified Fair N Green sustainable.
The Dönnhoff family first came to the Nahe region 250 years ago, establishing a traditional farm in the village of Oberhäusen an der Nahe, which included livestock and vegetable gardens in addition to some grape growing. Oberhäusen and this part of the Nahe river valley is very pastoral; it feels far away from the relative hustle and bustle of the Rheingau and wine tourism. The countryside is serene and beautiful, marked by steep hillside vineyards in the succession of villages following the river from Norheim to Niederhausen, through Oberhäusen, ending in Schlössbockelheim.
The estate was started by Helmut Dönnhoff’s grandfather, Hermann, in the 1920s. Helmut took over from his father, Hermann Jr. in 1966; at that time there were only four hectares under vine and still quite a bit of farmland, which was rented out. In 1971, the farmland was sold and Helmut turned his full attention to producing quality wine.
Helmut is a very instinctive winemaker with a natural touch that he’s clearly passed on to his son Cornelius, who joined him at the winery 2007. The Dönnhoffs believe in craft and workmanship with the understanding that “winemaking alone cannot bring quality; it can only retain the available quality.” Cornelius is as thoughtful as his father and the two share the same view on winemaking, viticulture, and taste in wine. -Skurnik