The Dönnhoff family first came to the Nahe region 250 years ago, establishing a
traditional farm in the village of Oberhäusen an der Nahe, which included livestock and vegetable gardens in addition to some grape growing. The wine estate was started by Cornelius Dönnhoff’s great-grandfather, Hermann, in the 1920s. When Cornelius’s father, Helmut, took over in 1966; and from that time began expanding the estate’s holdings and producing wines that launched Dönnhoff into the hearts, cellars, and glasses of great wine lovers all over the world.
2020 at Dönnhoff was another tricky, but excellent vintage. This year brought with it the added difficulties of COVID restrictions, quarantines, and border closings. Like 2019 and 2018 before it, 2020 was also a quite hot and dry growing season, though it didn’t start that way. 2020 started with a very wet winter recording higher than average rainfall which provided a good water supply for the year. Despite an unusually cool early spring, temperatures rose quickly and by budbreak in mid-April, temperatures had hit 80 degrees Fahrenheit! Summer was again very warm, but without the heat spikes of 2019. It was also much drier; rainfall was a third of what
would be typical, creating some additional stress on the vines. Young vines were particularly susceptible to this stress; older vines, in general, faring better in these drier conditions. September brought cooler nights and slowed the ripening perfectly, allowing harvest to be carried out over six weeks, beginning in mid-September. Every Prädikat level was achieved and in late November Cornelius was able to harvest Eiswein from the Oberhäuser Brücke vineyard for the first time in six years. With high ripeness but also high acidities, Cornelius feels the wines are similar to his 2012s, another excellent vintage at this estate.
Kreuznacher Kahlenberg (gravelly loam) in Bad Kreuznach, is a top site, but Cornelius bottles it as an Erste Lage (1er Cru) – Kahlenberg Trocken. Soils are richer in the vineyards in Bad Kreuznach, where the valley opens. The area is quite a bit warmer than Niederhäusen and Oberhäusen.