Let nature do its work
The lists of the most expensive wines in the world are almost exclusively red wines from France. But only almost. One of the most sought-after wines is neither red nor does it come from Burgundy. It is a Riesling from the world-famous Egon Müller-Scharzhof winery in Wiltingen on the Saar, not far from Trier. In conversation with the renowned winemaker, it becomes clear how important tradition, trust in nature, empirical values and quality are for him.
Winery rich in tradition
When searching the internet for the winery, which is not only known by wine connoisseurs, one mainly comes across superlatives: best noble sweet Rieslings in the world, legendary winery, most expensive wine, ... But when you meet Egon Müller IV in person - wearing work shoes and comfortable short cargo trousers - and ask him to introduce his winery, he doesn't name any of these superlatives. Instead, he proudly looks back on a long tradition: "My family has been at home here on the Saar for just over 200 years. Our winery used to be part of the Benedictine monastery of St. Marien in Trier. When the French came here after the French Revolution, the church properties were confiscated and sold. My great-great-great-grandfather, who was a monk in the monastery, took the chance and bought the estate here on the Scharzhofberg."
A German "grand cru
Since then, the estate has been family-owned and is currently run by the sixth generation, Egon Müller. "We currently have 16.5 hectares of vineyards, 8.5 hectares of which are on the Scharzhofberg and 4.5 hectares of which are in the very best location. This is where the best wines are produced," explains the wine expert. At first, one might not suspect that winegrowing is possible at all in this region. After all, Wiltingen is located almost at the 50th parallel, which is roughly the same altitude as Novosibirsk. "Viticulture only works here because we are very strongly influenced by the Gulf Stream. That means the climate here is very temperate, we have enough rain and basically mild winters and cool summers," Egon Müller explains and proudly adds: "The only disadvantage the Scharzhofberg has is that it is not in Burgundy. If we were French, we would call the wines that are produced here 'grand cru'. It's the triangle of climate, soil and the right grape variety - in this case Riesling - that simply fits ideally here at Scharzhofberg."
Confidence in the vineyards
You can literally feel his gratitude and connection to nature, and you really believe him when he says: "We winegrowers are often called 'wine makers' these days. I can tell you that I certainly don't want to be that. Rather, I feel like a farmer and trust our vineyards. I want to stand by, watch and make sure nothing goes wrong. I want to let nature do its work and do the right thing at exactly the right moment. And, I want to be there at harvest, because at harvest you can tell if it's going to be a good vintage."
"This year, many colleagues here on the mountain harvested with modern steep-slope harvesters. At the neighbouring vineyard, for example, there were three of them harvesting, while we had 30 helpers. Nevertheless, the neighbours were faster than us," says Egon Müller about the very labour-intensive manual harvest of his first-class grapes, some of which grow on vines that are well over 100 years old.
AS 940 Sherpa 4 WD - The mower with enough power
Even though the harvest is done by hand, the winemaker appreciates mechanical support. For over 20 years, the winery's machinery has included equipment from AS-Motor and, for the last two years, an AS 940 Sherpa 4WD XL. "There is a lot to mow around the winery. Part of it is lawn and is mown relatively often. The other part is more like a meadow, and we only go over it three or four times a year. So on the one hand, the mower has to cut the lawn cleanly and at the same time be gentle on the soil. On the other hand, it has to cope with tall grass, brambles and dense vegetation on the other areas, some of which are quite steep. I need a mower that has enough power. The Sherpa has the necessary power and can cope without complaint. It is exactly the right ride-on mower for my requirements. I don't know what else would come into consideration."
Economical use of chemicals
To control the weeds on the paved areas on the winery, an AS 30 WeedHex has been used for two years. "Since we have not used herbicide for a long time, it was very tedious to keep our yard clean. Therefore, we borrowed a machine for weed removal. However, this was from a different manufacturer. To cut a long story short, it was horrible! Since we were in contact with our dealer and AS-Motor, we then tried a weed brush. After that it was clear that with the WeedHex it is not only much easier, but also the result is top", Egon Müller states the reasons for buying the brush. The mechanical removal of weeds fits perfectly with the philosophy of the estate. For in the vineyard, too, a very restrained use of chemicals is cultivated. "Even my father tried to spray as little as possible. He was convinced that every spraying slows down the vineyard and important days of ripeness are lost as a result."
Experience plays a decisive role
The best location, the right grape variety, trust in nature, manual harvesting and little spraying. Are these the reasons why wine of such high quality is produced there at Scharzhofberg and why prices in the five-digit range are proclaimed for it? What else distinguishes the wines of this winery from others and what makes a really good wine? "The more flavour there is, the better a wine is," Egon Müller knows and explains: "The flavour must be in tension and this only arises when the coordination of alcohol, acidity and sugar fits perfectly." There is no doubt that the expert, who studied at one of the best wine universities, the Geisenheim University of Applied Sciences, knows exactly how this tension can be created and what countless other things need to be considered. Nevertheless, he says: "It's the many little things, but in the end, experience plays the decisive role. I was lucky enough to work with my father for 15 years. I was lucky enough to work with my father for 15 years. I am grateful for this, because we had an excellent relationship. So this time has brought me more than my studies. Now
I'm at the age where I want to pass on my knowledge and wealth of experience to my son Egon". And so it was and is also the many years of good experience with the devices of the Swabian high grass mower manufacturer and the good service on site that the decision is always made in favour of AS-Motor.