Sylt - We plant Germany´s most northerly vinyard

It’s just around the corner – on 4 June 2009, the North Frisian Island Sylt will have its own vineyard! The Ministry of Agriculture of the northern German state of Schleswig-Holstein awarded wine estate Balthasar Ress of Hattenheim/Rheingau the contract to plant vines on a ca. 3,000 square-meter piece of land near the village of Keitum. “After extensive research on the viticultural viability of the property – undertaken by the renowned oenological research institute in Geisenheim/Rheingau – we decided to plant 500 Rivaner vines as well as 1,100 Solaris vines on Sylt. The latter varietal is relatively unknown, but particularly in cooler regions, it achieves great results,” explains Christian Ress. “In all probability, in three years we’ll produce Schleswig-Holstein’s first ‘Landwein’ (comparable with French Vin de Pays). It will be marketed under a name that reflects both its location and cuvée: 55° Nord (literally, 55° north latitude) – Solaris/Rivaner.”                              

The Ress family’s latest involvement on Sylt is not particularly surprising: since late April, the estate’s young co-proprietor, Christian Ress, in cooperation with the Sylt-based wine specialty shop Weinhaus Schachner, has marketed “55° Nord,” a Rheingauer Gutswein Riesling trocken named for the island. The fact that there will also be a wine from the island is a great stroke of luck. This is thanks to the Schleswig-Holstein government. Last year, it secured the right to plant 10 ha (ca. 25 acres) of vines by acquiring planting rights from the state of Rheinland-Pfalz in a last-minute transfer before the regulations of the new EU wine market reform went into effect. This enables Schleswig-Holstein Landwein to be produced there. Several interested wine-growers bid on the contract to plant vines, including Weingut Balthasar Ress (for a portion of the 10 ha). Early this May, the estate received the good news: the Ress family is entitled to plant vines within the municipality of Keitum. The precise location: 54° 53’ 59” north latitude; 8° 21’ 54” east longitude.

According to Christian Ress: “It certainly will not be an easy venture – yet, a very exciting one. Keitum, on the island Sylt, cannot be compared with vineyard locations in traditional or other European wine regions: no practical experience exists. Based on extensive research on the site’s viticultural viability, conducted by Professor Dr. Löhnertz of the oenological research institute in Geisenheim/Rheingau, we decided to plant Rivaner and the new varietal Solaris. The latter is well suited to growing conditions on the island: ripens early to mid-early; has flowering firmness; and has loosely-packed clusters (i.e. reduced proclivity to botrytis). Solaris has already produced good results in other northerly regions and therefore, we are confident that this varietal will yield fruity white wines. We’ll use one third of the vineyard area for study purposes in order to continually optimize quality.”

Those who wish to acquire a bottle of this future rarity are best advised to sign up for a grapevine lease. There are 555 vines available for leasing and these can be reserved/acquired online (www.sylt-weinberg.de) or via telephone (+49 (0)6723/91950. Leased vines bear a personal name tag and ensure the right to annually receive one bottle of wine from the vineyard on Sylt. In about four years, Weinhaus Schachner will also distribute the new Sylt wines from Balthasar Ress. The wines can be tasted on site and/or ordered online (www.weinsylt.de). IF vintage volume is unexpectedly short, those who have vine leases will be treated as preferred customers. All the more reason to secure a grapevine lease on Sylt.

For additional details, please contact:

Balthasar Ress, Ute Schalberger
Zum Meerwald 4, 66129 Saarbrücken, Germany
Tel.: +49 (0)6805/2070701


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