WOMEN IN WINE #6
WEIN- & SEKTGUT BAMBERGER, GERMANY
Bamberger is located in Meddersheim in Nahe region of Germany, a top notch region known for producing quality wines for the country. The estate is run by third generation family, Ute and Heiko and the wines produced here include 8 types of Sparkling wines, produced using the bottle fermented method. They grow their grapes across three excellent sites covering 15 ha, the Meddersheimer Altenberg, Monzinger Frühlingsplätzchen and Meddersheimer Rheingrafenberg. The volcanic soils in Nahe have evolved over millions of years of ageing and weathering, turning into red sandstone, quartzite and slaty soils that give a highly distinct terroir-driven feature to the wines. Being devotees of this terrain, the couple’s mission is to bring out this terroir in their wines, that are vividly expressed in the form of markedly spicy flavours, stony textures that finish with supreme clarity and elegant precision. Their hand crafted ‘Winzersekt’ is the signature wine from this estate, a sparkling wine, where harvests are done using hand selection methods, aged in lees (dead and residual yeast) anywhere for 3-5 years to develop complexity. Even the detailed act of riddling (tilting each and every bottle by a few degrees ever so often in order to consolidate the sediments of fermentation before removing the dead yeast) is manually done by hand. Ute joined the estate around 1997 and since then has taken over charge of marketing, brand innovation, public relations, promotional events and growth of the estate.
Sumi met with Ute recently and shares her talks with the unassuming, cheerful and hard working lady who has worked across every aspect of the wine making and marketing and has over the years, helped to make this estate a commercial success today, one that is highly respected on both the local and international wine front. Meet Ute in our “Women in Wine” Series..
Sumilier : Please share with us your background and how you entered the Wine Industry
Ute B : Until I met my to-be husband in school, Heiko, I had never thought of wines at all. Heiko’s parents owned the family wine and the Sekt estate and after we met, he decided to pursue higher studies of the viniculture and oenology. While he studied, I supported by working as a flight attendant at Lufthansa.
The turning point came around 1997 when I became a mother and in order to spend more time with the kids and the estate, I found a great opportunity to focus my talent and background by joining the family business, which actually worked out brilliantly as this was the perfect start, to what I did not (then) realise was my entry into the very busy profession of Wine! It provided me a great opportunity where I could work in the winery and also take care of and be with my family. The more I got in to it, the more I developed a passion for working in Wines. It exposed me to varying challenges whilst gaining experience in the winery business and also contribute to the growth of the family wine business and also my own professional depth into this new fond career.
Sumilier : Which of your qualifications or experience has been most useful in your current role?
Ute B : Much of my professional expertise has been gained while being on the job. There is no subsititute to learning while working! Over the last twenty years I learned the most by fully involving myself in the vineyards, cellars and working on the tasting side. I spent a lot of time honing my olfactory and gustatory skills through regular training of the palate. That truly helped me gain an understanding of the necessary processes in the winery and sparkling wine production and the rules of nature. It all starts from the palate and goes back from there, I strongly believe.
Sumilier : What words best describe your wines?
Ute B: Clarity, finesse, elegance, length and character
Sumilier : Three things you like about working in this industry.
- I really love to meet different people and working out different tastes
- I enjoy pairing the perfect wine or sekt partner for the right situation, mood and/or food
- After being involved in the vintage right from the start all through the wine making, what I most look forward to is the tasting of each of our new vintages (the fruits of our labour!)
Sumilier : The toughest challenge you have faced while on the job.
Ute B : Its nothing to do with the wine work but just sometimes breaking away from the role! Although I got into the profession to spend time with the family, this is a life-long passion and very important to us. There is no break in this business. This is a full time role although I will never trade it for anything else (with a smile). Important is to work towards maintaining the perfect life and work balance … to coordinate family , personal life and my professional goals.
Sumilier : Your favourite drink on a Friday evening (when not working?)
Ute B : I really love any delicious sparkling – like “Winzersekt” …the German answer to Champagne, Cremant, Cava and Franciacorta (bottle fermented- method classique). My favourite grape variety are Riesling, Pinot Blanc and Pinot Noir. I am also open to tasting wines from other wine makers and respect their work.
Sumilier : Where do you see yourself 10 years from now?
Ute B: Continuing my passion for producing better quality sparkling wine, sharing the joys of creating hand crafted wines and in this process meeting more crazy and lovely people along the way! (laughing!)
Sumilier : What matters to you the most in your wines?
Ute B: We are highly respectful of our soils in which the grapes are grown and that matters to us the most!
Sumilier : Do you see many women in the Wine industry?
Yes, there are increasing number of women now joining German Family estates, a few female wine producers that are upcoming and others who started in completely different professions and now found ultimate fulfilment in the wine business. We are part of a growing network called “VINISSIMA”. This is the first only German association of women in the wine business. They include women wine producers, oenologists, wine growers, restaurant owners, merchants and sommeliers who come together to exchange ideas and reflect on the different aspects of the profession. Each year in the Vinissima forum, an award is given to the women who graduates with the highest marks in her Diploma of Wines and Spirits in the German Division of the WSET. This is a great way to promote women to come up in this profession and to encourage them to find their strengths.
Sumilier : What message would you like to give to women who wish to enter the wine profession?
Ute B: Rely on your own taste, be curious, create targets and pursue them with dedication! Capture any opportunity that comes across your way that will help enhance your palate experience and learn one thing about each wine you taste. Remember every tasting is a step forward in road to the wine success!
Wines from Bamberger are available to buy from Lea & Sandeman
(Photo credits : Bamberger estate)