In Kientzheim, the Gallo-Roman colonists settled at the crossroads of two roman roads. They were the first to plant vineyards on the sunny hillsides of the Weiss valley overhang. These events apparently date back to the time of Emperor Probus – around 50 years BC.
Around the year 1180, Barberossa (Frederick 1st), Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, crowned in 1155, appropriated a large number of goods, including the donation of an old possession of the Etival monastery (Vosges), quantities of vineyard parcels for which documents would later indicate that they were attributed to the Kaysersberg castle property – hence the origin of the name Schlossberg, castle hill.
The lieu-dit of Schlossberg was identified as of the 14th century. At this time, it was already referred to in property transaction documents. At the end of the 19th century, Schlossberg wines were sold in Rhine wine bottles.
Au XXème siècle, la reconnaissance du site, puis du Grand Cru se fera en plusieurs étapes décisives : en 1928, tout d’abord, les vignerons déterminent des règles de récolte au moyen d’une convention écrite – unanimement respectée. A set of rigorous requirements which Michel Mastrojanni fully understands: This unprecedented approach actually helped Schlossberg be the first lieu-dit, and the only at the time, to benefit in 1975 from the official Alsace Grand Cru appellation (Michel Mastrojanni, Le grand livre des vins d’Alsace, Solar, 1993, p.117). This convention was then consecrated by a decree in 1992, formally attesting its identity of Grand Cru.
Beloved vineyards and land
Schlossberg is on a steep slope and requires terraced farming. Its average plantation density is 5000 vines per hectare. There is a natural grass cover and light tillage and hoeing is undertaken in the very hilly parts of the Grand Cru.
The terraces and small walls impose additional layout and maintenance work for wine-growers. Respecting the work of bygone generations should be perpetuated as actually their approach was rather avant-gardist considering it was based on a quest for quality.
It’s within this same framework of respecting the earth that wine-growers practice either organic or integrated farming.
Thus the intimate relationship between man and vines express a pursuit of purity relating to its production. Wine-growers savour the grapes, monitoring the ripening, sugar and acidity to extract the quintessence. To obtain the fruit, wine-makers must observe the vines and imagine the wine they want to make. And these dialogues are never the same from year to year.
It’s actually during «average» years that Schlossberg wines reach exemplary balance.
A forward-looking future
The Schlossberg Grand Cru horizon is a perspective which escapes wine-makers today. They are at the prelude of a work which they don’t know will be inspired by the past, absorbed by the future or composed of an alliance of the two. The answer is undoubtedly found in their ability to transform the rich terroir into a flow of quality-bearing dynamics.
For now, wine-makers defend the different grape varieties in the Schlossberg along with their diverse aromas which define the Alsace identity.