The name of the wine estate goes back to the marriage of Paula Meyer and Willibald Näkel in 1950. They cultivated an area of just 1.5 hectares, yet were able to make a name for themselves because Willibald’s production of dry red wines represented thoroughly pioneering work at the time.
During the post-War years – and for some decades afterwards – German wine was simply always sweet. This also applied, most significantly, to red wine, which may seem hard to understand today, but it matched the tastes of the time. What’s more, it helped to mask often inadequate ripeness.
They had the idea of going against the grain by producing dry wines. In 1982 second generation Werner then took over the estate as a self-taught newcomer. He had previously worked as a high-school teacher and took his father's ideas one step further. And it’s no secret that he did so with tremendous success. With an uncompromising claim to quality, he succeeded in establishing an entirely new Pinot Noir style on the Ahr, and by the end of the 1980s Werner was already considered one of the most important vintners in Germany.
The name “Ahr“ goes back to the Celtic word “aha”, meaning water. Around our location the river has carved out a deep, steep-sided valley of craggy rocks and chasms on its way through the Ahr Hills. This not only creates a wildly romantic, picturesque view, but also the basis for the cultivation of red wine in what is the “high north” as far as wine production is concerned. The very special climatic conditions offered by the Ahr Valley, with its steep slopes positioned perfectly to catch as much sunlight as possible, were enough to convince the Romans to settle here all that time ago.
The area lies in the rain shadow of the Eifel region and its High Fens, hence the estate enjoy more hours of sunshine on an annual basis. All this means that the area boasts a virtually Mediterranean climate in summer – perfectly suited to maturing red grape varieties. For this reason, despite being the third-smallest wine-producing region in Germany, the Ahr enables the country’s largest continuous stretch of vine cultivation for red wine.The majority of our vineyards are located in Dernau, with further plots in the municipalities of Neuenahr, Ahrweiler and Walporzheim. The top locations of Pfarrwingert, Kräuterberg and Sonnenberg are among the best in Germany with very special geological and climatic conditions.
The name Sonnenberg, literally meaning “sun mountain”, speaks for itself: Thanks to its south-facing orientation and favorable incline, this outstanding location benefits from an optimum amount of sunshine and a favorable microclimate. The soil is a bone-rich amalgamation of greywacke and greywacke slate offset with deposits of clay over slope wash through to loess and loess loam. Such an environment is particularly suited to the Pinot Noir vines, which reward for their place in the sun with full-bodied wines that maintain a fruity and elegant character thanks to the stony element of their soil.