Tesch has been family owned and run since 1723. The estate is a member of the prestigious VDP (Verband Deutscher Prädikats – und Qualitätsweingüter), a century-old association of some 200 German wineries dedicated to excellence. Tesch is based at Langenlonsheim, a small village in the hilly Nahe region of Germany. The Tesch vines overlook a huge flat plain which once was occupied by the mighty river Rhine. Now the vines face the winding river of Nahe instead – a mere trickle in comparison. The valley is closed to the west, offering protection from rain and wind and creating a microclimate of calmer and warmer conditions, especially at night.
When Martin Tesch took over from his father Hartmut, there were 30 ha of vines. These produced the usual wide range of wines found in the Nahe, all made from a multitude of grape varieties. Those 30 hectares were producing over fifty different wines – complex to manage and increasingly uneconomic. Martin Tesch decided on a different, more radical approach to the vineyard and culled all but 11 ha of Riesling, plus three more of the two Pinots. Today the Riesling covers 17 out of the 20 ha with vines having an average age approaching 35 years. Martin doesn’t intend to replant any of it in his lifetime because ageing vines bring more complexity. The Riesling vineyards are divided into two principle soil types – one of volcanic origins, the other overlaying weathered sandstone.
In 2001 the decision was made to concentrate on making dry Rieslings, resulting in a reduction of sales over the first 6 months. This was accompanied by vociferous criticism from existing customers and from German wine critics. Martin was accused of going against the grain of tradition, of destroying his heritage. Tesch ignored it, had courage and is adamant.
“Riesling has a backbone; it is not supposed to be an easy drinking peachy, sweet wine.” Open-minded people tried the new dry Rieslings without prejudice and found them delicious”
Within two years, sales had recovered, new customers had been found and Tesch was receiving accolades with Weingut Tesch even became a business case-study taught by the London School of Economics.
Tesch takes a modern, innovative approach on design and marketing. There are 6 single vineyard Rieslings – each is distinctively labelled within an overall Tesch theme. A picture of Tesch’s great-grandfather appears on every label, as it has done for 150 years, in a nod towards the heritage of the estate. Everything else is ultra-modern, as far away from the traditional German label with its Gothic scripting as it is possible to get. There are no long words. Each Riesling has is colour coded (“the colours of the London Underground map”) and has individual artwork to distinguish it. In fact, Tesch won the prestigious Red Dot award for product design – and this is no mere wine award – we’re talking about competing toe-to-toe with Sony, Porsche and Apple designs.