The World's Oldest Operating Winery Is Over 1,000 Years Old

Mosel Valley vineyards
Mosel Valley vineyards - travelview/Shutterstock

What goes around, comes around. That old idiom readily applies to the world's oldest operating winery. Established in 862 by Benedictine monks at Stavelot Abbey, Staffelter Hof has been producing wine for almost 12 centuries. Let that sink in for a moment. Almost 1,200 years ago, when the Stavelotians began producing wine, Charlemagne ruled most of Europe, vikings were just beginning to explore western horizons, and the monks at Stavelot Abbey had already been muddling through life without wine for about 200 years. To remedy the dire situation, the holy Roman emperor overseeing the territory in the ninth century gifted the monks a parcel of land on the banks of the Mosel River. They established a vineyard, began making wine, and the rest, as they say, is history.

The entire property, including the abbey and vineyards, operated under the authority of the church until it came under state control during the French Revolution. Peter Schneiders purchased the vineyards in 1805. The separate circa 651 Stavelot Abbey is open to the public as a museum and cultural center. More than a century later, Schneiders' descendants carry on the family winemaking tradition, producing a well-regarded range of rieslings in addition to a growing portfolio of natural wines. Remember what we said about what goes around, comes around? That's where Jan Matthias Klein comes into the picture. A seventh-generation descendant of Schneiders, Klein is bringing the winery back to its roots, producing wine the old fashioned way without additives or processing aids.

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Organically Speaking

Staffelter Hof wines
Staffelter Hof wines - garberandco/Instagram

Following early-career stints at wineries in France, New Zealand, and Australia, Klein returned to the vineyard focused on continuing the family legacy while exploring the production of natural wines. His inspiration was two-fold. He was intrigued by the idea of introducing organically grown wines to the region and he realized the organic process could be ideally suited to maximizing growing potential on the notoriously steep terrain of the Mosel Valley. Along the way, he became an integral member of the Klitzekleine Ring, a forward-thinking consortium of Mosel Valley winemakers intent on cultivating organic vineyards in particularly challenging conditions.

Klein introduced organic growing practices at Staffelter Hof in 2011. The winery has been eco-certified by the European Organic Certifiers Council since 2012. The result is a collection of natural wines that are unfiltered, unfined, and sulphite-free in addition to a full suite of conventional wines, including sparkling varieties, ice wines, and liqueurs.

In 1962, Peter Schneiders' great-great-great-grandson Paul Klein and his wife Rosina added two guest rooms to the property. A decade later, they expanded to four, and today, Staffelter Hof offers stays at seven fully furnished on-site apartments with accommodations for one to six people. The winery also hosts a full calendar of cultural events including tours, tastings, musical performances, curated luncheons, and guided hikes.

Read the original article on Tasting Table