The Künstlers have a wine tradition that goes back to the end of the Thirty Years war in 1648. Franz Künstler established the German holdings we know today in Hochheim in the mid-1960s, and slowly and diligently worked to build the reputation of his estate. His son Gunter joined his father in 1988 after completing his studies in Geisenheim, and assumed total control of the estate in 1992. Gunter is about as serious and intense a winemaker—and for that matter, a human being—as one might encounter. It’s a bit unnerving, as he burns into your very soul with his searching eyes and tries to express his passion for the wine in words. Until you turn away, taste the wine, and truthfully tell him how wonderful it is: then a smile quietly appears. Like most truly great winemakers, Gunter believes that all great wines start in the vineyard, and pours his efforts into that philosophy. Nitrogen-fixing plants between rows, rainwater recycling systems, and minimal spraying (organic + conventional) exemplify his essentially “green” viticultural practice. Yields at Künstler are way below the norm for the Rheingau. Deacidification is rarely practiced and then only with the must and never with the finished wine. After fermentation the wine is left on the lees for four to six weeks (!) and then transferred to casks or tanks until bottling. In general the wines are vinified in a reductive style. The Künstler estate is currently comprised of about 32ha (80acres) with 85% planted to Riesling and 15% to Spätburgunder (Pinot Noir), spread over the Herrnberg, Hölle, Hofmeister, Kirchenstück, Reichestal , Stielweg, and Domdechaney vineyards, all south-facing sites in Hochheim. The Spätburgunder (Pinot Noir) is vinified using Burgundian methods.