While wine has been produced in Dürrenzimmern since 1147, the wine produced in 2020 by the 300 or so members of the Weinkonvent Dürrenzimmern – a small but notable cooperative in the heart of Germany’s Württemberg wine-growing area – will be as far removed from the Middle Ages as the moon is from the sun. Year after year, the innovative team led by chairman Alfred Heckel and cellarmaster Kurt Freudenthaler prove that a cooperative can produce quality wines that hold their own at international level.
The members of this cooperative, located in the Zabergäu region, have recently won a number of gold and special awards in various competitions, particularly with their red barrique wines – and are now setting out to follow up the quality revolution of recent years with enhanced marketing measures. This means focusing on specialist dealers and restaurateurs throughout Germany and beyond.
“We are making great progress,” says chairman Heckel.
Weinkonvent will attend ProWein 2020 and have a presence on the Weinheimat Württemberg stand in Hall 14. To mark the launch of two easy-drinking wines for younger people, the fresh, cheeky cooperative from Württemberg intends to showcase its contemporary credentials for the palate and eye in equal measure – the two new wines will be matched by the colourful outfits of the representatives on the stand.
“White only” is a cuvée made from Sauvignon Blanc, Kerner and Cabernet Blanc, while “Red only” combines Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and traditional Württemberg grape varieties in perfect harmony. During a cross-sectional tasting at the Meininger Verlag stand in Hall 13 on Sunday 15 March, journalist Thomas Brandl will draw the arc from “Lifestyle to Lemberger” in the premium segment. As a special highlight, he will present a barrique Trollinger that will bring an end to all the jokes and preconceptions about so called “Swabian breast milk”.
Last year was the most successful ever for Weinkonvent Dürrenzimmern, which was founded in 1937: after receiving three Federal Prizes in a row, the innovative team led by cellarmaster Kurt Freudenthaler stormed to the top of the German Agricultural Society’s (DLG) Federal Wine Awards. It received a Federal Gold Award and the Wine Producer of the Year award for having the best collection of any of the participating wine producers. The next highlight came just a few weeks later: at the red wine gala of the renowned magazine VINUM in Fellbach in November, the Weinkonvent members from Zabergäu took first prize in the Underestimated Varieties category with a 2016 Divinus Portugieser, matured in barrique.
Less is sometimes more. With around 200 hectares of vineyards, the Weinkonvent is one of the smallest cooperatives with its own cellar management in Baden-Württemberg. The focus in Dürrenzimmern has been on quality rather than volume for many years, which has resulted in numerous successes in terms of domestic and international awards. The Weinkonvent presented the best barrique collection in Germany twice running (2017 and 2018) at the DLG Awards. It also won four golds at the AWC Vienna and five at the Berlin Wine Trophy 2019, and received a gold medal at MUNDUS VINI, organised by Meininger Verlag, for their 2016 Divinus Cabernet Sauvignon matured in barriques.
Without neglecting the overall quality of the product range, which consists of 70 percent red wine and 30 percent white wine, cellarmaster Kurt Freudenthaler pays special attention to the strong vines that produce the premium series Divinus. In order to produce top-quality wines that are very competitive internationally, the yield per are is deliberately reduced to 40 to 50 litres, and even to 35 to 40 litres for Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon. These full-bodied, long-lasting red wines are then aged in French oak barrels for up to 24 months.
The Divinus series now consists of eleven different red wines and two quality white wines. The reds include traditional local varieties such as Lemberger and Portugieser, as well as international varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. In terms of white wines there is a Traminer and a Pinot Blanc, plus an Orange wine made from Kerner, in which the grapes are fermented with the berry skins over a long period of time. Over the years, the cooperative has created up a clearly structured quality pyramid for its classic table wines and Klosterhof (basic), Cellarius (middle segment) and Divinus (premium) lines, with reference thus being made to the former affiliation with the Lorsch Abbey. And all the products from the Weinkonvent have an excellent price to pleasure ratio.
Open to the world
Innovative thinking is the order of the day in Dürrenzimmern. On each first Thursday of the month, an after-work event, sometimes held in winter as an après-ski party with a DJ, attracts wine-lovers to the modern wine shop, which was redesigned a few years ago and has already won awards for design and customer satisfaction. The programme during the summer months includes tours through the vineyards on the Lemberger Express, guided wine hikes and weekend wine meets at the idyllic Mönchsbergsee lake. Social media is also regularly employed, including campaigns and videos on Facebook and Instagram, to help connect with a younger target group.
The next step for the highly motivated team at the Weinkonvent is to reach new customer groups, both within Germany and internationally, with its top-quality products. The main export focus is on the Netherlands, Belgium, the Scandinavian countries, Poland, Austria and Switzerland.
At ProWein 2020, interested visitors are invited to visit the stand to get a detailed overview of what is offered by the Weinkonvent members from south-western Germany, who really do not fit the image of a typical cooperative.
This article first appeared in Issue 1, 2020 of Meininger's Wine Business International magazine, available by subscription in print or digital.