The Hollerith Family has been making wine for more than 300 years in the Southwestern Region of Germany known as the Palatinate, "Süd-Pfalz". With such history it is no wonder that the father and son team of Joachim and Jonathan are also entrenched in the wine world and happily making wine where their ancestors before them had. It is their wines that tell the story but how they got there, who they are, and what has shaped them inevitably is part of the terroir, and we hope that you are interested in reading about the journey that brought them back to their roots.
You could say the path began with Joachim's completion of his apprenticeship at the the renowned Weingut Dr. von Bassermann-Jordan in Deidesheim. Afterwards he went to study Viticulture and Enology at Geisenheim Universtity. In 1978 He left Germany for Virginia to embark into uncharted viticultural territory and into an experience that helped shape the Virginia wine industry. He helped establish 2 wineries in Rapidan River and Prince Michel Vineyards as "Winemaker" and "General Manager" and was priviledged to work with wine great Jacques Boissenot during much of this time. This experience eventually led to Joachim's influence branching out to the state of California where he consulted and broke ground with Ehler's Estate, and eventually even travelled east to help consult in China's budding wine industry.
During this time he also worked on propagating grapevines, a passion he shared with his father. It was a business that had him traveling all over the East Coast and California helping winemakers select the best clones and rootstocks for their vineyard sites. This job brought him closer to the many different types of soils and climates found in the United States and gave him a greater appreciation of terroir driven wines.
You could say Jonathan's story began just in helping his father in the vineyards and cellar growing up, but his passion for wine truly took form when he left home for Bordeaux France in 1999. Here during a period of one and half years he worked two different apprenticeships beginning at Domaine de Chevalier and finishing at Chateau Lagrange. Before heading back State side he came to Germany where he helped with his father plant the first 3 acres of Pinot Noir, which was to become Weingut Joachim Hollerith.
He ended up in Napa Valley where he enjoyed being the cellar-hand under the guidance of the late Chris Johnson. His work was split up between large production winemaking at Kendall Jackson and small high end winemaking at Cardinale. After his time in Napa he entered the Viticulture and Enology program at UC Davis in 2003.
In Davis Jonathan took advantage of the summer breaks to fly back to Germany to help take care of the Pinot Noir planted back in 2000. In 2006 Jonathan graduated Davis. He was close to remaining in California, but was surprised to hear that Joachim had purchased another parcel of land in the Appelation Heiligenberg.
Jonathan decided to leave California for a family project in Germany. The Hollerith's planted 5 new acres of vines including Pinot Noir, Syrah, Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc, and Pinot Blanc. For the next 5 years Jonathan grew the grapes and made the wines with input from his father. At the end of 2011 Joachim officially retired and was able to fully focus all of his energy into the winery he had always dreamed of opening. With only 8 acres at hand this gave Jonathan a huge relief in work load, and he was able to focus his attention on new endeavors.
During the 2012 Growing season he left Germany for Virginia. He landed at Early Mountain Vineyards where he became the Vineyard Manager and part of the Winemaking Team. Here he has the opportunity to work with and be part of a great team giving him the chance to brainstorm with some of the U.S.'s wine legends in Lucie Morton and Paul Hobbs. Today he travels between Virginia and Germany throughout the year growing grapes and helping to make wines in both of these amazing places.
Joachim and Jonathan are very excited about the wines they are making and you can see the enthusiasm in their eyes as soon as you meet either of them in the vineyard or cellar. To say these wines are different than what is expected out of traditional German reds brings a smile to their faces, and it is no surprise considering their history and journey in the wine world.