Dry climate, sun and favorable soil, all elements were reunited to make Alsace a land of viticulture. Vines appeared in Alsace during the Roman conquests : its culture will expand under the reign of Merovingians and Carolingians, big consumers of wine. In the Middle Age, Alsatian wines were among the best known and the most expensive wines in Europe.
But this prosperity was ephemeral. In fact, the different wars (Thirty Years war, French Revolution, 1870 war) and the diseases (mildew, phylloxera) has ruined the Alsatian vineyard. Its reconstruction was unhoped.
After two centuries of destructions, winemakers were back to work and back to the reconstruction of their vineyards: chemical treatment of the soil, removal of the ill vine stock, grafting to avoid phylloxera. So the vineyard has regained its previous appearance. Then comes the notion of “Protected Designation of Origin” (Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée) appears : a quality policy is set up, with a delimitation of the production area and strict rules. The term “PDO”, or AOC in French, is recognized in 1926. The term “AOC Alsace Grand Cru” in adopted in 1975 and “AOC Crémant d’Alsace” in 1976. Today, in the Interprofessional Council of the Alsatian Wines (CIVA), producers and merchants are working together to contribute to the influence of wines from Alsace in the world.
THE ZEYSSOLFF FAMILY
The presence of the ZEYSSOLFF family in Alsace dates back to the 15th century. In 1574, two brothers, one lawyer and the other one judge, received a family coat of arms for services to the city of Strasbourg.
In 1778, Jean-Daniel ZEYSSOLFF, winemaker in Gertwiller, in the heart of the alsatian vineyard, founded the Zeyssolff Winery. Since then, the tradition of the vines and the wine passed from father to son, over dozens of generations. A constance as remarkable as the quality of the wines produced by the Zeyssolff family.
The estate is well exposed, on differents terroir with different geology, which allow to produce specific wines. The rewards regularly obtained at different contests can show the value of the wines.
All the seven grape varieties of Alsace are produced by the Zeyssolff Winery, and are appreciated in Alsace, in France and abroad.
In 1997, Yvan ZEYSSOLFF, the current winemaker and the eleventh generation of the Zeyssolff family, took over the family estate. Since then, the estate works with integrated management, in order to preserve the environment. This way to work limits the chemical products, and use more organic methods.
Since 10 years now, the winery started “oenotourism”, wine tourism, by the opening of the shop “Au Péché Vigneron”, under the family house. This shop was totally rethinked and readapted for the customers and the landscape in 2015.
In order to allow people to experience and share their passion for the wine, Céline and Yvan ZEYSSOLFF have entirely renovated 4 guest houses, in a style mixing tradition and modernity, rated 4 stars.
Few specific moments
- In 1960, the Zeyssolff winery is one of the first wineries to bottle Alsatian wines.
- In 1997, Yvan ZEYSSOLFF takes over the family estate, and has since worked in an organic way, by limiting chemical products.
- In 2005, opening of the shop « Au Péché Vigneron » under the family house. You can find all the Zeyssolff wines, but also a large choice of delicatessen and products from the terroir. You can make your own wine and food basket, specialty of the Zeyssolff winery.
- In 2009, opening of the first guest house, rated 4 stars “La Maisonnette”. It’s a top of the range loft, combining comfort and modernity.
- In 2010, opening of a tea room area, in the shop. It is located in ancient arched cellar, with old stones, where you can relaxing and listening to relaxing music.
- In 2011, the guest house “Opaline” is also rated 4 stars.
- In 2012, the guest house “Charlotte” is renovated and rated 4 stars. A new guest house, La Distillerie, is created and rated 4 stars as well, and it is reachable for persons with reduced mobility.
- In 2015, renovation and expansion of our shop “Au Péché Vigneron”. Opening of the cellars for the public, with arranging of visits for foreigners groups.
- In 2018, renovation of our fifth guest house “Ophelia” and beginning of the organic agriculture conversion of all of our estate.
- In 2020, complete renovation of the cellar, creation of a new vat room and development of a scenographic space with 180° immersive video.
Savoir Faire : Tradition and Quality
Birth of wine starts at the vine, by respecting the nature.
For this, different principle are used by the estate:
- Wise choice of the grape variety in relation to the soil, the terroir : each of them has feature, and expression of them can be changed by natural elements (climate, soil) and by the techniques of work chosen.
The specific requirements of each variety concerns first their need in heat and water, that will determine their earliness and the ripening period. It’s the first element to take account of when you choose a grape variety.
But the choice of the variety is also due to its productivity. It’s changing in function of the climate and the soil conditions, but the variety also has its own productivity. Varieties can be categorised from the less to the most productive.
Cultural constraints also influence the choice of the variety. For exemple, in the areas where there is a risk of spring frost, we will prefer vines with late bud break. You also have to think about the sensibility to the coulure, rot and wood diseases.
- voluntary limitation of the yield as soon as the pruning of the vines starts in winter, volontaire des rendements dès la taille de la vigne en hiver, further the balance and the harmony of the specificity of each grape variety, and the expression of the terroir . We also do early harvest (operation that allowed to cut green and unriped grapes, to facilitate the maturation of the grapes left, and to decrease the yield in quantity but increase it in quality).
In this way, the wine will be more concentrate, but the yields reduce. It is our choice to choose the quality rather than the quantity. This limitation will be even more for our Cuvées Z and our Grands Crus.
- biological control with products certified in organic certification
- considered harvest, when the grapes are completely ripe
- Once harvested, the grapes are transported in small container (120kg, 265lb) to the cellar.
- First step : Vinification and ageing of the wines
pressing is always pneumatic, in order to avoid degradtion and oxydation of the grapes. A cycle of pressing lasts from 3h30 to 16h from the Sélections de Grains Nobles (noble berries selection, very sweet wine with only natural sugar). The juice (must) is cool down to 12°c (53°F), in order to make the settling down easier (sediment in suspension will fall at the bottom of the tank).
- Second step : alcoholic fermentation under thermal control of the wines
the clarified must goes to oak casks (foudres in French) in order to ferment. Many daily controls of density and temperature are done to follow the evolution of the fermentation. When the wine reach its balance sugar/acidity/alcohol, then the wine is racked, with its fine lees. It is cool down and stabilised afterwards.
- Step three, the most meticulous, is the ageing on lees.
- The last step is the bottling of the wines, in our cellar, after filtration : the bottles are stored for 3 to 6 months minimum, before being sold. It will alow the wine to become finer and to nourish itself.