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 Hanspeter and Edel Ziereisen of Weingut Ziereisen. Located in Baden, the bold and experimental Ziereisens bottle Baden’s beautiful terroir into authentic, unique wines that are always handpicked and rarely filtered.
Whose *Wine* is it Anyway? Meet Hanspeter and Edel Ziereisen
Meet Hanspeter and Edeltraud Ziereisen
Focus: Mainly Spätburgunder and Gutedel, with Syrah, Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, Muskateller, Gewürztraminer, and Regent
U.S. Importer: Skurnik Wines
Nestled in the far southwest corner of Germany, overlooking the snow-covered Alps, are the Ziereisens. The Ziereisen family has claimed the small village of Efringen-Kirchen in Baden as their home since 1734, situated directly on the Rhine River at the border of Alsace, France and Switzerland (known as the “three country corner”).
In 1991, Hanspeter Ziereisen made a leap from carpentry to a different type of handiwork: winemaking. Together with his wife Edeltraud (better known as Edel), Hanspeter converted his parents’ farm into a winegrowing business and bottled his first vintage in 1993. Driven by curiosity and passion to approach winemaking outside of the usual conventions, he works sustainably to create high-class wines that thrive in the sunny region of Baden while also growing other crops, running a bed and breakfast, and continuing his work with metal and wood.
Hanspeter is known for his rebel status among German winemakers. Because of their unconventional and sometimes experimental techniques, the Ziereisen estate doesn’t seek Qualitätswein status, the “quality wine” category in German wine law. This doesn’t mean that Ziereisen wines are low quality – they regularly receive awards and high ratings and are popular in Germany and abroad – but that Hanspeter and Edel prioritize individuality. Instead of altering their intuitive and creative viticultural and cellar practices to achieve classification, the Ziereisens lean into the lower Landwein distinction with pride – breaking away from the mainstream and making wines on their own terms. Today, the Ziereisen estate is one of Baden’s top producers, known as winemakers who were courageous enough to cut the path for the high-quality Landwein movement that’s growing in Baden and across Germany.
Hanspeter and Edel’s children, Ida and Johann, also help out at the family winery, with hopes of one day continuing their parents’ tradition in stylistic and rebellious yet top-quality winemaking.
Situated in one of Germany’s warmest and most southerly regions, Efringen-Kirchen and the Ziereisen vineyards resemble Burgundy, from the warm, sunny climate to the rich limestone soils. These conditions produce stunning Spätburgunder (Pinot Noir) and Gutedel (known as Chasselas in France), which make up the majority of Ziereisen’s plantings. Hanspeter also grows Pinot Blanc and Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Muskat, Gewürztraminer, and Syrah on the Ziereisens’ steep, south-facing slopes. He isn’t afraid to experiment with varieties, soil content, and vine density, which ultimately helped increase Weingut Zieresen’s vineyard area from 0.5 hectares in 1991 to 21 hectares today.
Ziereisen is a firm believer that quality originates in the vineyard, with the family working sustainably and closely with nature to make striking wines. No chemical fertilizers or sprays are used on the vines, and Hanspeter and Edel prioritize handwork in the vineyard. Ziereisen works hard to understand the special conditions of their soil and vines to create expressive, drinkable wines which reflect the beauty of their vineyards.
Quality is made in the vineyard. We work with utmost care to create the conditions for high-class wines.
— Hanspeter Ziereisen
Hanspeter and Edel’s attention to detail and manual work doesn’t end in the vineyards. After first being hand-selected from the vine, grapes are placed on a sorting table to be individually approved before beginning the winemaking process. The Ziereisen estate accepts only healthy, ripe berries to guarantee the most successful spontaneous fermentation.
Once grapes receive the Ziereisen seal of approval, all wines are fermented spontaneously in neutral wood. The oak barrels come from the Assmann Büttnerei from Franken, known as one of the last handcrafted barrel makers in Germany, and range from 225 liters to 3500 liters, depending on the quality of the wine. Maceration then takes place for 6-8 weeks before red grapes are pressed in a pneumatic press, followed by aging on the fine lees for at least 20 months before bottling without filtration.
Similarly, Ziereisen’s highest-quality white wines are treated more like red wines, stored in wooden barrels where Hanspeter leaves them to ferment at ambient temperatures – sometimes as long as 20 months – before bottling without filtration. Unlike most white wines from Baden, which are bottled young for fresh, fruity flavors, Ziereisen goes against the grain to create earthy, spicy and smoky wines from their highest-quality single-vineyard Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, and Gutedel.
Ziereisen offers a range of wines, including everyday estate wines, sophisticated single-variety bottles, premium wines originating from a specific terroir, and “Jasper” wines, which are grown from the estate’s best terroir and oldest vines and named after the precious stone found in the vineyards. No matter the skill set of the drinker, Ziereisen offers high-quality, handpicked wines with minimal intervention in the cellar for a racy yet balanced bottle.
We produce muscular wines. Not sumo wrestlers but decathletes; smooth, elegant, strong, and athletic.
— Hanspeter Ziereisen
Just as their wines organically reflect Baden’s distinctive terroir, the Ziereisen estate’s cellar was built with the family’s own tendencies in mind. While Hanspeter happily made the jump from woodworker to winemaker two decades ago, he never lost his passion for carpentry. That’s why Ziereisen’s underground cellar, the newest addition to the estate, has an unusual ring to it.
Located just outside their village, Hanspeter commissioned a German-born sculptor and sound artist named Trimpin to line the cellar’s roof with an expansive row of hanging staves, or pieces of retired wine barrels (not pictured). The installation is an instrument, with the cellar ceiling programmed to play tunes like a giant xylophone. While a seemingly peculiar addition, the installation is yet another detail proving Hanspeter and Edel’s dedication to creating beautiful, unique art – whether grown and bottled or hung on a cellar ceiling. (Source: Jancis Robinson)