and their shared
According to church records, the first of 19 generations of Schnaitmanns (and Schnaitfraus) likely traveled from the Styria region of what is now Austria to Fellbach around 600 years ago. There has been an unbroken line of grape growers in the family ever since. And yet for all that grand tradition in the Rems Valley, it would take until 1997 before we could harvest grapes for our own label.
We are proud to say that many of our employees first joined us as interns or apprentices. Maybe it’s something in the water… or the home cooking? Every year since 2000 we’ve taken on up to three young, aspiring winemakers for training. We are perpetually awed and astounded at the resounding interest from so many talented people from the worlds of restaurant and retail.
The past moves fast
Recognize a Schnaitmann ancestor or two from these photos from the 1930s and 1950s? Quaint as it might feel today, harvest was still conducted using these archaic-seeming techniques until relatively recently.
Then in the 1980s something changed. Colleagues here in the area began experimenting beyond the classic style of the region. That, together with a few enchanting restaurant experiences, were enough to lure Rainer out of architecture and into winegrowing.
After training in the Rems Valley and studies at the University of Geisenheim, I signed up for guest apprenticeships in New Zealand and South Tyrol. My father eventually leased me 3 hectares of his vineyards and space in the small old cellar of one of our renovated barns.
Success came quick.
The very first vintage was cited in the “Gault Millau” wine guide and the Spätburgunder from the Lämmler earned the first of its many subsequent awards. The young estate sold out each vintage quickly and began growing, either through purchase or lease and in many cases involving vineyards held by relatives.
And then came the fourth vintage. Or more specifically: on June 5, 2000, a hailstorm struck all of Fellbach’s vineyards. My entire hanging fruit was destroyed. With a calm that, in retrospect, is perhaps the most miraculous part of the story, I began traveling about the Rems Valley seeking replacement grapes so that I could produce a vintage. I succeeded, diligently noting which sites had delivered the best fruit. Later I would work to retain the best of those sites in my long-term operations. These vineyards elsewhere in the Rems Valley — Schnait, Beutelsbach and Strümpfelbach — would eventually form the second great pillar of our winegrowing.
In 2006 I was adopted into the VDP, at that time the youngest estate ever to achieve that accomplishment. It was a tremendous honor and an obligation to continue pursuing quality in all regards.
A former intern put us on to vineyards in the Zabergäu, which have helped mitigate the risk of hail and expanded our portfolio to include new soil and micro-climates unique to the Unterland region. We’ve now grown to 26 hectares, often very small parcels that we cultivate strictly organically with our team.