Every other month, ‘Whose Wine is it Anyway?’ profiles a German winemaker to give you a behind-the-vines look at the world of German wine. This month, we’re highlighting Katharina Wechsler! Located in Rheinhessen, Katharina Wechsler shifted her career away from media to follow in her family’s winegrowing footsteps, bringing her passion for sustainability to the wines she produces. Weingut Wechsler’s offerings range from traditional Riesling to natural and orange wines.
Whose *Wine* is it Anyway? Meet Katharina Wechsler
Katharina was born in 1979 in Worms and raised in Westhofen on her family’s Rheinhessen bulk wine estate, where she and her siblings learned first-hand what it meant to run a winery. With little initial interest in running the 18th century estate, Katharina studied French Literature in Paris for a year following high school and later studied Social and Political Sciences in Stuttgart, becoming a Junior Editor at a television station in Berlin in 2006.
Katharina made her way back to her family estate after feeling pulled home by her weekly calls with her mother and began attending winemaking school in Oppenheim in 2009. Before graduating in 2012, she started an apprenticeship at a local cooperative and at the estates of Weingut Gutzler and Klaus-Peter Keller. After completing her education in Oppenheim, she went on to join her family estate with the goal of instilling a different approach to wine, one where wines are made with the intention of being a smaller piece contributing to the larger ambiance of a gathering. She officially took over in 2017, rebranding the estate in her name and transitioning away from bulk production to quality- and terroir-oriented winemaking. In April 2022, Katharina’s partner, Manuel Maier, whom she recently married, joined the estate’s management team, pushing for modernization and sustainable redevelopment of the estate both in the vineyard and in their marketing.
But what drives us? The impressions we collect through travel, meeting people, and tasting wines from talented colleagues. Of sun, frost, wind, rain & hail. Of our estate as our happy place. Of living vineyards & authentic wines. Of friends, guests, culinary delights, music, and surprise encounters: the lovely adventure of finding the familiar and the unexpected in and through wine.
— Katharina Wechsler
Weingut Wechsler is made up of 44 acres, with Riesling taking up approximately one-third of plantings, Burgundian varieties taking up another third, and the final third dedicated to Sauvignon Blanc and regional varieties such as Silvaner, Scheurebe, Müller-Thurgau, and more. The family is also increasing the replanting of other experimental grapes, building on the diversity of the options with inspiration drawn from the natural wine bars of Paris and Copenhagen.
The vineyards have been certified organic since the 2021 vintage. Biodynamic practices started with the 2020 vintage as an attempt to increase the grapes’ natural immunity against climate challenges and fungus. The main differentiator of the vineyards lies in the growing practices. Unlike many vineyards, the vines at Weingut Wechsler grow as they need, with tending based on the needs of the individual plant. The soil is nurtured with the estate’s own compost of horse manure, grape pomace and green waste, the latter of which is plowed yearly to mix in more than thirty different herbs to enrich the soil.
Known for their classically styled dry Rieslings, Weingut Wechsler produces wine with a focus on trinkfreude, or “joy to drink.” To Katharina, the aim is to create authentic wines that add to the greater ambiance of a gathering. Pressing is done with whole clusters of grapes then racked into another tank following six to 24 hours of settling. Each wine is fermented and aged in stainless steel tanks without bâtonnage and bottled at the optimal moment after gentle filtering. The Rieslings and Scheurebe Trocken are bottled in the early spring while the other wines are typically bottled between the end of spring and the end of summer.
For those new to her wines, Katharina recommends the Riesling Estate and the Scheurebe “Fehlfarbe” from the Cloudy by Nature collection of wines. From Kirchspiel, one of the estate’s grand cru sites, the Riesling Estate wine features a strong minerality with notes of pink grapefruit and stone fruit. The Scheurebe “Fehlfarbe” is part of the estate’s natural wine line which has continued to expand since the 2021 vintage. “Fehlfarbe,” in English, means “wrong color” which is an excellent description for the estate’s orange Scheurebe. This wine is complex with notes of dried flowers and herbs and features a smoky scent.
Our focus is on organic cultivation, healthy soils, and making wines that communicate the character of their terroir. We pride ourselves on raising lively and elegant wines that are a pleasure to drink. We translate ability, intuition, and trust into distinctiveness, elegance, and finesse.
— Katharina Wechsler