Schloss Johannisberg

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Wine

Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

  • About

German wine estate in the rheingau with a history closely interlinked with that of the entire region. First planted by Benedictine monks around 1100, it served in the 18th century under the prince-abbot of Fulda as a model for viticultural success with Riesling. Legend has it that Schloss Johannisberg played an important role in the discovery of botrytized wines. Grapes affected by noble rot were allegedly first harvested at Johannisberg unwittingly, giving rise to the auslese, beerenauslese, and trockenbeerenauslese styles in which, among German growing regions, the Rheingau took the lead. In 1802, Johannisberg became secularized and the property of the prince of Orange. It was won four years later by Napoleon, who presented it to Marshal Kellerman, duke of Valmy, who owned it until 1813. From 1813 to 1815, the property was administered by the allies Russia, Prussia, and Austria; it was then given to the Habsburg Emperor Francis I of Austria at the Vienna Congress. In 1816, he presented it to his chancellor, prince of Metternich Winneburg, whose descendants sold their majority share in the property only in the 1970s. The property today belongs to the Oetker family whose vast network of businesses includes the sparkling wine producer Henkell as well as the G. H. von Mumm estate with which neighbouring Schloss Johannisberg has long had an interlocking relationship. The longstanding prestige of the estate has resulted in the name Johannisberg Riesling being a synonym for German riesling.