Winery Hans Wirsching in Franconia

Iphofen and the Julius-Echter-Mountain

We meet Andrea Wirsching on a balmy late summer day. The afternoon is the most beautiful time in the vineyard. This is where the winemaker retreats when she wants to find peace. Thinking, she says, also works well in the vineyard when the sun is low in the sky. We drive to the Julius-Echter-Berg, the most famous site of the Hans Wirsching winery.

Die Schatten werden langsam länger – am Julius-Echter-Berg, der wohl berühmtesten Lage in Iphofen. Angela Berg zusammen mit Winzerin Andrea Wirsching, deren Großvater in den 1920er Jahren diese Lage angelegt hat / © Foto: Georg Berg
The shadows are slowly getting longer – at the Julius-Echter-Berg, probably the most famous site in Iphofen. Angela Berg together with winemaker Andrea Wirsching, whose grandfather planted this site in the 1920s / © Photo: Georg Berg

The Hans Wirsching winery is one of the largest and also best-known private wineries in Franconia. Since 1630 and in 14th generation the family is active in viticulture. Between 1905 and 1911, viticulture came to an almost complete standstill due to phylloxera. After the phylloxera disaster and the two world wars, Hans Wirsching laid the foundations for a pure winegrowing business with the remaining vineyards and a consistent quality philosophy. The sons, Dr. Heinrich Wirsching and Hans Wirsching expanded the vineyard since 1966. The winery became one of the leading Silvaner producers in Franconia and today cultivates a vineyard area of 90 hectares.

Glücklich im Weinberg. Andrea Wirsching vom Weingut Hans Wirsching mitten in Dornfelder-Reben. Die Philosophie des Hauses für die Arbeit im Weinberg lautet: so umweltschonend wie möglich bei Verzicht auf Insektizide und Herbizide / © Foto: Georg Berg
Happy in the vineyard. Andrea Wirsching from the Hans Wirsching winery in the middle of Dornfelder vines. The winery’s philosophy for working in the vineyard is to be as environmentally friendly as possible while avoiding insecticides and herbicides / © Photo: Georg Berg

Dry Silvaner, Scheureben and Rieslings have been our specialty for generations, says Andrea Wirsching. The family’s ancestral home is in picturesque Iphofen. At the age of 29, Andrea Wirsching had once again broken away from the Franconian winemaking dynasty for a trading job in Hong Kong. But then the vineyard caught up with her again. She married a winemaker from the Saar. She stayed there for 18 years, raised three daughters, then knocked on her family’s door again in Iphofen and was gladly accepted back.

Ein Silvaner Großes Gewächs: 2013 Iphöfer Julius-Echter-Berg. Das Weingut Hans Wirsching präsentiert seine Spitzenweine regelmäßig auf dem Rheingau Gourmet und Wein Festival / © Foto: Georg Berg
A Silvaner Großes Gewächs: 2013 Iphöfer Julius-Echter-Berg. The Hans Wirsching winery regularly presents its top wines at the Rheingau Gourmet and Wine Festival / © Photo: Georg Berg

Andrea Wirsching represents the winery at festivals and events, such as the Rheingau Gourmet and Wine Festival, and took over the management from her father Dr. Heinrich Wirsching. Half-sister Lena von Gemmingen (née Wirsching) is still studying. The plan is for Andrea to hand over the reins to her younger sister in a few years. As a sign of their solidarity, the sisters have already created the Sister-Act, a wine made from Silvaner and Riesling from the top Julius-Echter-Berg vineyard.

Gipskeuper prägt das Terroir der Grossen Lagen in Iphofen, von denen der Julius-Echter-Berg die berühmteste Lage ist / © Foto: Georg Berg
Gipskeuper characterizes the terroir of the Grossen Lagen in Iphofen, of which the Julius-Echter-Berg is the most famous site / © Photo: Georg Berg

Not all sites are the same on the Julius-Echter-Berg, either. Andrea Wirsching describes it as having little humus at the top and being wide and deep at the bottom, but particularly good in the middle of the slope. Here is an old stand with small concentrated grapes. Oak woods shield the partly steep slopes and thus provide a special microclimate. This mild climate and the long vegetation period allow the vines to absorb the minerals contained in the gypsum keuper. The wines acquire a fruity, full-bodied character and the absorbed minerals make them digestible.

Der Weinbau im Steilhang ist aufwändig. Blick auf den Iphofener Julius-Echter-Berg / © Foto: Georg Berg
Viticulture on the steep slope is laborious. View of the Julius-Echter-Berg in Iphofen / © Photo: Georg Berg

The most important vines in Franconia are Silvaner, Trollinger and Scheurebe. The grandfather Hans Wirsching was one of the first to introduce Scheurebe in Franconia in 1953. Only 5% Riesling is grown in Franconia, but if you can find a Franconian Riesling, it’s good!

So how was the 2017 wine year? Andrea Wirsching is very satisfied. What may have seemed like a rainy summer to the wine connoisseur was weather with ideal growing conditions for the winegrowers in Franconia. However, the humid and muggy weather requires a lot of manual labor, such as defoliation, mechanical weed control and foliage work for better aeration of the grapes. The grape harvest has started earlier than ever before – 88 days after flowering (one normally expects 100 days). Andrea Wirsching is particularly happy about her Silvaner and calls it an absolute climate hero. Due to the strong selection of the grapes, she announces only a small amount of Großer Gewächse, but with a lot of aromatics and elegance.

Das Stammhaus in Iphofen stammt aus dem 16. Jahrhundert. Der Keller sogar aus dem 15. Jahrhundert. Das Stammhaus war zwischen 1860 und 1950 ein Kolonialwarenhandel, der die Familie Wirsching ernährt hat / © Foto: Georg Berg
The parent house in Iphofen dates back to the 16th century. The cellar even dates back to the 15th century. Between 1860 and 1950, the main house was a grocery store that fed the Wirsching family / © Photo: Georg Berg

In the middle of Iphofen stands the main house from the 16th century. Before wine was sold here, there was a colonial goods trade between 1860 and 1950 that fed the Wirsching family. The Hans Wirsching winery still has over 60% private customers. With very few exceptions during the year, the sales department is open continuously, so that the approximately 12,000 active private customers have the opportunity to taste and purchase almost every day.

Blick in die Wirsching-Schatzkammer. Hier lagern Bocksbeutel vieler Jahrzehnte / © Foto: Georg Berg
View into the Wirsching treasure chamber. Bocksbeutel of many decades are stored here / © Photo: Georg Berg

No winery without a treasure chamber. The wines of many decades are stored in the cellar of the Wirsching winegrowing family. The family remains faithful to the flat ball bottle, the Bocksbeutel. Originally, this was a cloth bag in which monks or aldermen transported their books. Homeland and tradition are to be preserved. A Riesling flute for her classic wines would be out of the question for Andrea Wirsching.

Der historische Weinkeller unter dem Stammhaus des Weinguts Hans Wirsching in Iphofen / © Foto: Georg Berg
The historic wine cellar under the main building of the Hans Wirsching winery in Iphofen / © Photo: Georg Berg
Der moderne Part des Weinkellers. Hier lagert nur ein kleiner Teil der Weine. Silvaner als typischer Franke ist mit 38 Anteil die dominierende Rebsorte, gefolgt vom Riesling, Müller-Thurgau, Scheurebe, Weißburgunder, Grauburgunder, Bacchus, Kerner, Traminer und den Rotweinsorten Spätburgunder, Portugieser und Dornfelder / © Foto: Georg Berg
The modern part of the wine cellar. Only a small part of the wines are stored here. Silvaner as a typical Franconian is the dominant grape variety with a share of 38, followed by Riesling, Müller-Thurgau, Scheurebe, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Bacchus, Kerner, Traminer and the red wine varieties Pinot Noir, Portugieser and Dornfelder / © Photo: Georg Berg

Our mode of operation is characterized by self-experienced, well-researched text work and professional, vivid photography. For all stories, travel impressions and photos are created in the same place. Thus, the photos complement and support what is read and carry it further.

Never miss new Tellerrand-Stories again! Mithilfe eines Feed-Readers lassen sich die Information über neue Blogartikel in Echtzeit abonnieren With the help of a feed reader, all stories about the Tellerrand (edge of the plate) can be subscribed to in real time.

Food topics on Tellerrand-Stories
Permalink of the original version in German: