Bruderthal is cited as of 1316 in the farming possessions of the bishopric of Strasbourg, but it appears that Cistercian monks had already farmed this terroir well before this date:
«The grapes harvested and pressed on the Strasbourg bishopric’s press and the wines obtained were sent to the Cistercian monastery in Haute-Seille in the year 1249».
These men were devoted to their job and had a decisive influence in the region, giving their name to Bruderthal (Bruder means brother).
In 1505, the Civil Hospice of Strasbourg owned vineyards located in Bruderthal. The last parcel in the lieu-dit of Bruderthal, owned by the Episcopalian church of the Strasbourg diocese was given away in April, 1963. (Der Rebbau des Elsass - Médard Barth).
More recently, the historian Claude Muller pointed out that in 1829,
«Wine sales were radically encouraged in this canton as monasteries had the privilege of retail selling them for two months during the year exempted from farm fees.»
Today, the recognition of this Grand Cru is obvious, notably attested by its awards, on several occasions at the Concours des meilleurs Riesling du Monde. The wine-makers of Bruderthal Grand Cru strive to make their wines and terroir known, inviting wine connoisseurs to come meet them by the numerous guided tours they organise during the summer months. There is the Balade Gourmande (the first edition was in 2008) or during theMarathon du Vignoble d’Alsace for which they are partners.
Beloved vineyards and land
Vineyard work creates a respected intimate tie between the wine-makers of Brudhertal and the vines themselves, which is seen in their collective choices:
The up-keep and preservation of the ecological islands present (scree) is promoted by moderate cutting of the hedges and bushes. The usage of insecticides is limited to the official list of organically-approved products. Botrytis treatments are forbidden and natural ground cover is preferred to preserve the site’s ecosystem. Therefore total weed-control and usage of residual weedkillers is forbidden.
In parallel, the harvests are done by hand with grapes taken to the press whole. Thanks to the terroir characteristics of water and humidity level, exposure and early-ripening, the planting density has little influence on the harvested grape quality. In practice it varies from 4000 to 5000 vines per hectare. The parcels of land are usually planted horizontally like the slope. As for when young vines starts producing, wine-makers refer to the Cahier des charges Grand Cru (Grand Cru Specifications Book) in force and thus wait four years after planting the vine stocks to start harvesting.
Wine-makers strive to promote native yeasts, used only occasionally, and reserved for difficult vintage years. Chaptalisation is forbidden and acid adjustment tends to disappear. Ageing on lees is also preferred until the spring. The wines are clarified using filtering and the bottling takes place a few weeks before the following harvest.