Two years ago, she joined the top-class estate run by her father Steffen, who is also president of the prestigious Verband der Deutschen Prädikatsweingüter (Association of German Prädikat Wine Estates or VDP). The 26-year-old wine maker attracted attention straight away when she won “discovery of the year” in the 2019 red wine awards presented by the specialist wine magazine “Vinum”. Christmann is a devotee of Pinot Noir, the diva of the red grape varieties. Since she has taken charge, the wines have gained greater elegance and depth. “I’ve changed a few things,” she admits. For example, she harvests the fruit earlier and leaves the skins in the must for a shorter period. She has also adopted whole-cluster pressing and takes greater care over extraction.
Sophie Christmann is just one example of the departure from tradition that is taking place in the Palatinate, where a new generation of young women winemakers are causing something of a stir. One of them is Katrin Wind, whose Pinot Blanc and Sauvignon Blanc whites have been exclusive to Mondovino since the 2017 vintage. Despite having just six hectares of vines, this “garage winemaker” conjures up honest, elegant wines. Once again, her 2019s leave nothing to be desired. However, she also grows Riesling, probably the best-known white grape in Germany. Like many of her colleagues, Wind received a good training at Geisenheim University.
Compared with Wind, who completely shook up her parents’ winery, Regine Minges had things a little easier. She and her father joint-manage their family-run, 25-hectare business, which has been certified organic for ten years. With her philosophy of “I make wines you can have a serious relationship with, rather than superficial wines you just flirt with”, she is determined not to do things by halves. Viktoria Lergenmüller has a similar approach. To her way of thinking, there is nothing worse than ingratiating wines. Instead she sets out to produce vintages of character and takes major risks to do so. Displaying what might be considered a typical female trait, she prefers to rely on intuition and gut instinct rather than lots of technology in her cellar. Unlike Minges, Lergenmüller is a one-woman show, as is Katrin Wind. Both women’s wines are proof that this path can be extremely successful. There can be no doubt that we will be hearing – and drinking – plenty from them in the future.