In the 12th century Wuenheim appeared under the name of Wunach, toponym which, according to some researchers, came from Wunne, a wasteland, a notion which evokes the devastation of forests which monks undertook to make the land farmable.
Thus, like many of the Alsace Grands Crus, Ollwiller owes its recognition to the Cistercian monks, farmers and intellectuals. (Victor Canales)
At the beginning of the 13th century, Count Ferrette, vassal of the Strasbourg bishops, gave up his agricultural and viticultural fiefdom to the Cistercian abbey of Lieu Croissant. These lands were resold in 1260 to the Counts of Waldner who built its first castle there around 1261.
The building of this castle undoubtedly contributed to the rapid growth of the vineyard which fulfilled the needs of «altar wine» for the Basel prelates, particularly to the Cistercians from the Lucelle abbey on the borders of Alsace and Switzerland.
The castle was destroyed at the beginning of the 18th century and rebuilt in 1752 by Dagobert de Waldner, lieutenant general of the King. Many great historical figures such as Louis XV stayed in this sumptuous castle.
The castle and estate were purchased in 1825 by Jacques-Gabriel Gros, a fabric manufacturer, who wonderfully transformed and renovated the grounds and wine-growing area.
But during the First World War with its deadly fighting between the French and German armies, the village and castle, along with the vineyards were destroyed and left in ruins.
Faced with these tragic events, wine-growers chose to rally together for the challenge of restoring the wine-making estates. This shared work effort gave way to a «cooperative» concept, created in 1959. To honour the memory of lives sacrificed during these dark years it was named «Vieil Armand», French phonetic derivation of «Hartmannswillerkopf», the mountain which suffered the bloodiest combats.
>Today, the Ollwiller castle is one of the only 2 castles to produce wine in Alsace using the name Château whereas the Ollwiller Grand Cru continues writing history producing sumptuous wines which express the complex terroir minerality.
Beloved vineyards and land
The Ollwiller Grand Cru banked on the environment by practicing grass cover between the vine rows. Its deep soils are perfect for this farming technique without ever harming the vineyard quality.
On peut par ailleurs constater sur l’Ollwiller l’un des biotopes les plus diversifiés du vignoble. Walkers may easily see deer, hares or ladybirds and even some wild tulips when wandering along the gentle vineyard slopes.
L’Ollwiller inscrit son avenir dans l’univers des très grands vins. To its credit are centuries of tradition, a toilsome and often destructive past, profound reflection and relentless, determined work by people who successfully managed to restore its heritage dating back to the first vine planted on its hillsides.
The goal for wine-makers from long ago and what motivates the wine-makers of today and tomorrow is this simple and perpetual search for the holy grail of quality.