The boundaries of four vineyards meet one another where the river Nahe flows into the Rhine: Rheinhessen, Rheingau, Nahe and Mittelrhein. That is unique in Germany. And the same is true of the ground, comprising quartzite and slate, which enables the grapes on the vines to mature and to develop a very particular flavour. Local vineyard Hemmes is known for its wines, and it has already garnered many prizes. To be successful, the winegrowing family places great emphasis on many detailed aspects that, in a similar way to mosaic tiles, go together to form a complete picture.
Whenever anyone at the Hemmes vineyard orders "the wine that turns into a butterfly", they are not joking, but have instead benefited from an hour of tuition at the wine school run by Frank Hemmes. As well as wine tasting, the winemaker provides insights into biology, soil science and the history of wine growing. "I also draw comparisons with nature", stated the highly qualified winegrowing technician, and he knows that the customer requesting the 'butterfly wine' wished to purchase his Grauburgunder. A trader by the name of Johann Ruland introduced the Burgundy vine to Germany from France back in the year 1711. The wine made from this, and later becoming known as the 'Ruländer' as a tribute to the aforementioned trader, is sweet, golden yellow and it flows out of the bottle in a viscous manner. Like a worm. Later, the same vine started to be grown 'dry', i.e. without the addition of 'noble rot' (Edelfäule), and this developed into a fantastic wine with a fruity aroma: the Grauburgunder. "I explain this metamorphosis to my visitors to enable them to remember these wines more easily by comparing them to a caterpillar that turns into a beautiful butterfly", explained Hemmes
The former village school building in the centre of Bingen-Kempten in Rheinland-Pfalz, built in 1908, in which the Hemmes Wine School is now based, is located directly opposite the family farm. Between them, a narrow street winds its tortuous way. This is a plain building characterised by the lines of Jugendstil architecture and by the principle of building a robust structure. A two-storey, cream-coloured building with wide windows, its base made of sandstone masonry over which the grape vines strive upwards, and a large wide door arch above the heavy main door. It is very easy to imagine how children used to throng through that door as the school bell sounded. Friedel Hemmes Senior also went to school here.
Back in the 1980s, he and his wife Renate bought from the town what was by then a vacated and empty historical building for which, it seemed, no-one could find a use. For a long time, it served as a store and as a storage facility for every conceivable kind of thing. Between 2006 and 2008 his son Frank and his wife Tanya, who took over the vineyard in 2003, restored the listed building with no expense being spared. In keeping with the original use of the building, they set up, alongside their apartment, their own wine school, the 'Vinothek Weinschule Hemmes'. The high brightly lit rooms are equipped to modern standards and invite people to linger. This is very much in keeping with the concept devised by this winegrowing family, who not only produce good wine but who also wish to market it in an appealing manner. "The image of the winemaker has change. In the past, he would be a farmer, but now he also has to be a bit of an entertainer", stated Frank Hemmes. While saying that, this friendly winemaker is making his way through the large classroom in which tables and chairs are arranged in rows, in the manner of school seating. Now in jeans and pullover, but whenever wine pupils are his guests, he appears in a top hat and tail coat. Then he is an entertainer.
13 hectares of vineyard land belong to this property, located in the winegrowing region of Rheinhessen. They are located on and around the hillsides of Binger Rochusberg. From its highest point, you can look across the Rhine to the famous Niederwald memorial that towers over the town of Rüdesheim between the vineyard hills and that commemorates the unification of Germany back in 1871. The loamy soil here contains a high amount of valuable minerals, roots can penetrate the ground easily, and that ground is easy to work with farm tools. The most valuable and most renowned location though is the Binger Scharlachberg with its mixture of quartzite and slate. This ground is ideally suited to the cultivation of Riesling and Spätburgunder vines. The other wines that owe their existence to the grapes that ripen in these locations include Grauburgunder, Weissburgunder, Dornfelder, Portugieser, Silvaner and Kerner, as well as Regent, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Saint Laurent.
Having said that though, it is still a long time to the grape harvest. Right now, in the month of March, sub-zero temperatures hold the land firmly in their cold grip. Frank Hemmes, who has by now driven his Fendt 208 Vario V vineyard tractor up and down the slope between the countless rows of vines, is busy chopping up sawn lengths of vine wood. He uses his Fendt tractor to carry out pretty much every task that needs attending to on a hillside vineyard. Those tasks closely resemble those that arise when farming arable land: turning over the soil with the 'para-plough', spreading herbicide and fertiliser.
The comfortable equipment and the high level of technology in the manoeuvrable vineyard Varios really delight the General Manager. For him, this is a great way to motivate his workforce. "Only the very best for my people", he added. Since last summer, he has had a full time employee, Simon Weinheimer, a qualified wine cooper (a maker of barrels). He does more than help with work on the hillside vineyard – he also assists with wine pressing, bottle filling and sales. The vineyard purchased its tractor from their local AGCO/Fendt sales partner, a company trading as Raiffeisen Waren-Zentrale Rhein-Main eG in Langenlonsheim. Hemmes is delighted by the good collaboration with Stefan Flohn from RWZ and with the Fendt plant officer Stefan Arnoldt. " Within just three days, Frank Hemmes made his mind up in favour of the Fendt 208 Vario V", reported Stefan Flohn. That was how quickly he got convinced by the technology from the Allgäu. "Making a good wine is like creating a mosaic. Very many small building blocks go into its making. It's all about an interaction of many important little details", emphasises the winegrower. This also includes cutting the vines in spring down to a relatively short stump to enable the root system to supply nutrition to the smaller number of grapes on the main vine stock, thereby improving quality. By the same token, removing leaves from the grape area on each vine enables the grapes to enjoy more sunlight, making their skin firmer, which in turn makes the grapes better able to ward off fungal infections and to ripen properly. For this work, the Fendt tractor is also a great help.
This vineyard in Bingen-Kempten has been familyowned for almost a century. "Wine and family – they are two inseparable structural pillars of our work", stated Tania Hemmes. This qualified vineyard business secretary runs the winemaking business alongside her husband. Their two sons, Felix and Philipp, 18 and 20 years of age, lend a hand whenever their other commitments permit. Felix, currently a trainee at a vineyard in New Zealand, is gathering valuable experience, and he will be starting a course in winemaking in autumn, wishing to continue the family tradition. In respect of this, his grandfather Friedel Hemmes established an important milestone in the 1960s: he converted what had until that point been a typical mixed farm with winegrowing, livestock and agriculture, and turned it into a business based exclusively on winemaking. His range of experience combined with the new specialist knowledge of his son Frank, has led to numerous innovations and further developments. The motto is: "Klasse statt Masse" which, roughly translated, means 'Quality not Quantity'.
Not only because 90 percent of all wine sales go to private customers located right across Germany. High quality is taken as read by winegrowers as the inherent challenge in all aspects of their work: Just in terms of German 'quality wine' (Qualitätswein), no fewer than 100,000 bottles a year are filled: Quality grades by the name of Kabinett, Spätlese, Auslese or Beerenauslese. And to prove that all of that grape juice maintains the highest standards of quality, there is a cabinet full of prizes. Among other forms of recognition, this vineyard was, for four consecutive years between 2009 and 2012, awarded the Staatsehrenpreis (State Honour Prize) by the federal state of Rheinland-Pfalz, gained second place at the awc vienna 2012 and came second in the international 2012 Müller-Thurgau Prize in Meersburg. Time after time, the renowned German wine guide 'Gault Millau' and the internet wine guides Wein-Plus and Busche Deutscher Weinpreis recommend this successful wine collection. The Mainzer wine guide considers the Hemmes vineyard to be among the finest in Rheinhessen, while the journal Der Feinschmecker goes so far as to include it among the finest in the whole of Germany.
Successes that these products genuinely live up to. At the end of the say, they are the result of years of hard work, and these outcomes substantiate the mosaic concept of this winegrowing family. One of those building blocks is the dependable technology from Fendt.