Reichsgraf von Kesselstatt

The Reichsgraf von Kesselstatt estate originates from the 14th Century, when the von Kesselstatt family, having not long moved to the region, purchased their first vineyard in 1349. Early records indicate that the family had close links with local nobility, with Johann von Kesselstatt and his son Friedrich I both taking on important roles. In 1394 Friedrich was named court sommelier, overseeing activities in the royal vineyards and cellars. With such good service it should perhaps come as no surprise that in 1776 the family was elevated to the level of Reichsgrafen (equivalent to a count).

Although the family claim a history of viticultural activity that stretches back for more than six centuries, the Reichsgraf von Kesselstatt estate that exists today really originated in the 19th Century, when the family purchased four former monasteries, complete with extensive vineyard portfolios, between 1854 and 1889. The estate was ran from the impressive Palais Kesselstatt until 1999 when the new owner, Günther Reh, who made his purchase in 1978, moved operations to Schloss Marienlay in the Ruwer Valley. The Palais Kesselstatt was restored, and now serves as a restaurant and wine bar.

The Reh family, in the shape of Annegret Reh-Gartner and her husband Gerhard Gartner, still run the estate today. Manager and winemaker Wolfgang Mertes vinifies the fruit of 36 hectares of vines which are scattered across some of the most renowned vineyards along the Mosel and, unusually, also along both tributaries, the Saar and the Ruwer. The jewel in their crown is perhaps the Josephshöfer vineyard, a 4.8 hectare monastic site located in the Mosel village of Graach, alongside the Domprobst and Himmelreich vineyards. Germany, like Burgundy, has a good number of vineyards which have been owned and tended by religious orders and in both cases these tend to be the most ancient and best documented; Josephshöfer is no exception, first appearing in monastic records around the 10th Century. It was owned by St Martins Abbey in Trier for more than a millennium and possibly much longer than that, as 12th Century documents claim the abbey had been gifted the vineyard by a local philanthropist in 596. Nevertheless the Merteshof vineyard, as it was then known, was sold by auction during the French occupation of the region in 1803. It was purchased by Matthias Joseph Hayn, who passed it onto his son-in-law, who subsequently sold it to the Kesselstatt Reichsgrafen in 1858, and it remains in the sole ownership of this estate today. The soils are classic Devonian slate interspersed with a fine earth, and with a gradient of 70%, impressive but not that uncommon for this section of the Mosel; the wines are said to be rich and peachy.

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