The wine-growing tradition of the Thanisch family can be traced back more than 350 years. In 1636, the name was mentioned for the first time in the registers of Bernkastel-Kues. The quality of the family’s wines soon extended their excellent reputation far beyond the Mosel valley. At the end of the 18th Century, the Thanisch’s acquired the Berncasteler Doctor vineyard, a very steep site with deep devon slate structure, situated behind and overlooking the rooftops of the quaint old town of Bernkastel. The Doctor name originates in a legend about Prince Boemond II of Trier who fell sick and then was cured by a wine from this vineyard. Medicinal powers
of fine wines are today being re-discovered! Without a doubt, the Doctor Vineyard is the most valuable and most famous German site. The Thanisch estate (the heirs Müller-Burggraef) included over 12 hectares (30 acres) of the best sites in the middle Mosel valley. International reputation was gained in the mid-19th Century under the management of Dr. Hugo Thanisch. From that time on, Thanisch wines fetched spectacular prices at international auctions. In 1986 a bottle of 1921 Berncasteler Doctor fetched the incredible sum of 11,200 DM. This was a bottle of the first Riesling Trocken beerenauslese ever made in the Mosel valley. The bottle had been hidden, together
with other rarities, during World War II, and found by accident again in 1959: a former employee, who knew nothing about the hiding place, approached the estate manager of that time about these wines, who then went to investigate the cellar and found the wines hidden behind a double wall.
Quality is still the standard of the Thanisch family estate. A great part of this quality is due to the Doctor Cellar that is hewn deep into the rocks beneath the vineyard. Here all Thanisch wines are matured in traditional old oak Fuder casks at a constant year-round temperature of 8° C (45° F). In the mid 1990’s, the family has invested heavily into modern technology, gentle handling of uncrushed grapes and temperature controlled fermentation equipment. The vintages since 1997 reflect this improvement. Margrit Müller-Burggraef, a granddaughter of Dr. Hugo Thanisch, passed the estate on to her niece, Barbara Rundquist-Müller in January of 2007. Since then, considerable effort has been taken to practices sustainable agriculture in its now 16 hectares (40 acres) of prime Mosel Valley vineyards, with no use of pesticides, herbicides (special herbs are planted to kill weeds), insecticides (use of pheromones instead), no chemical fertilizers (only mulch from pips, stems and skins of grapes) or heavy machinery which compacts the slaty soils with nearly all work done by hand. Environmentally-friendly practices extend to the cellar where there is no use of artificial enzymes, sorbic acid (commonly used to stabilize wine), industrial cleaners and only minimal use of sulphur dioxide. The results produce wines with more purity and expression of their unique terroirs.