Karl H. Johner
In 1985, Having completed a ten year spell at Lamberhust Vineyard in Kent, Karl Johner and his wife Irene founded a little Weingut - vineyard & winery - in their home village Bischoffingen in the Kaiserstuhl.
His sight was set on Burgundy style wines full of structure and pure elegance. As such, all his wines were to be aged in oak barrels. This ran contrary to the German quality wine laws of the time, meaning that the estate's initial vintages could only be labelled as 'Table Wine'. Eventually, however, the laws were changed and Johner was vindicated: oak ageing was officially permitted in the region's wine laws. Today Weingut Karl H. Johner is widely considered to be one of the best estates in Germany and is well-known amongst most wine experts.
The Johners have approximately 17 hectares of vineyards in Bischoffingen and its surrounding areas. Starting with a Burgundian focus and just three varieties, they are now planted with eight white and ten red grape varieties! Amongst the red plantings are several 'experimental varieties', being tested to assess their suitability in Kaiserstuhl's cool and rather variable climate.
This success in Germany was just the start for the Johner family however. In 2001, with Karl's son Patrick ready to take the reigns of the now world renowned German operation, Karl's passion for great Pinot Noir brought him to New Zealand, where he fell in love with the Wairarapa region and its wines. So, the Johner family established their second vineyard on the complete opposite side of the world, in Gladstone, New Zealand. With its unique cool but dry climate and located on free-draining alluvial soils on the banks of the Ruamahanga River, a small, 16 hectare block provided an idyllic setting to produce hand-crafted, New Zealand Pinot Noir.