Germany’s 2015 Vintage: Close to Perfect…

Harvest Reflections from Ernst Loosen, owner of Dr. Loosen and Villa Wolf

Bernkastel/Mosel, Germany – After very challenging vintages in 2013 and 2014, this was a much more pleasant year… balm for the winemaker’s soul! Under close to perfect conditions, we were able to harvest grapes with optimal must weights and acidity levels, producing wines in all quality levels. The vintage also gave us excellent yields, which will allow us to satisfy the growing thirst for Dr. Loosen and Villa Wolf wines among wine lovers all over the world.

Ernst Loosen and his Dr. Loosen winemaking dream team.
Ernst Loosen and his winemaking team: Bernhard Schug (winemaker, left) and Roland Orthmann (viticulturist, right). They are our Dream team! Bernhard (Berni) has been Ernst Loosen’s winemaker since the very beginning, in 1987, and recently celebrated his 60th birthday. Roland has been managing the vineyards for over 15 years and knows every vine by name!


We also continued our mission to rediscover the traditional techniques of our grandfathers, such as native yeast fermentation and extended maturation on the full lees in old oak barrels, in our quest to produce long-living white wines. Riesling forever! The grapes from this vintage will provide a spectacular foundation for these wines since they were perfectly healthy and have intense concentration together with vivid acidity.

The 2015 Growing Season in the Mosel

Budbreak was about two weeks later than in 2014, so the flowering was also later, coming in early- to mid-June. The summer was very dry and hot, statistically one of the warmest summers of the last 100 years.

Due to this extraordinary weather, all of the vineyards were finished with an ideal flowering by the end of June. We started a pre-harvest at the end of September, where we selected out any early botrytis, and the main harvest started on the first of October.

The weather had remained very dry until then, but at the end of September we were hit with some heavy rains. This was a bit frightening, but fortunately the rain stopped at the beginning of October and the weather turned colder, giving us perfect harvest conditions.

Ideal Fruit for All Quality Levels

Our meticulous winemaker, Berni Schug, was thrilled with the grapes we harvested. Their excellent health and ripeness gave us perfect material for Kabinett and Spätlese wines, but also for the GGs, the top dry Rieslings from our Grosse Lage (grand cru) vineyard sites.

And topping it all off, we brought in superb botrytis selections for Auslese, Beerenauslese (BA) and even some Trockenbeerenauslese (TBA). We had a good amount of BA this year, with perfectly dried botrytis that had shriveled beautifully.


Analytically, the harvest was ideal. We picked healthy fruit – up to 100° Oechsle (23 Brix) at 10 grams/liter of acidity – for our best dry wines. This gives us a very promising balance of ripeness and acidity, which is exactly what we are looking for. With the botrytis selections, we had up to 200° Oechsle (44 Brix), with high acidity levels. All thanks to the dry, windy and sunny weeks during harvest in October.

The 2015 Vintage at Villa Wolf in the Pfalz

Because the Pfalz is a very warm area, it is also called the “Tuscany of Germany.” The climate in this southern Rhine valley region is very mild, being perfectly protected by the mountains of Mittelhaardt and the Pfälzer Wald forest.

Here we harvested perfectly ripe grapes at a record-breaking pace, finishing at the end of September. After a dry winter and a very hot summer, the grapes had been a bit stressed, but in a positive way, producing grapes that were small and very aromatic. The Rieslings from our single-vineyard sites – Forster Pechstein and Wachenheimer Belz – are especially promising.

Patrick Möllendorf and Sumi Gebauer in charge of winemaking at Villa Wolf in Germany's Pfalz region.
Patrick Möllendorf and Sumi Gebauer met while working at Dr. Loosen and have been in charge of the viticulture and winemaking at Villa Wolf since 2011.

Our Young Team at Villa Wolf

Patrick Möllendorf and Sumi Gebauer have everything perfectly under control, so in all of our vineyards we were able to harvest healthy grapes with excellent ripeness and lively acidity. The young wines have developed nicely and are showing great aroma, freshness and balance.

See a harvest reflection video of Ernst Loosen and his winemaking team on YouTube

Download a pdf of this harvest report