At least four generations of Sauer’s have been active in viticulture. Initially they were simply selling wines in cask. In 1950 the family joined the Escherndorfer Co-op where they were primarily a source for grapes to complement the Escherndorfer wines. In 1979 Helga and Rainer started the Rainer Sauer estate and began selling estate wines under the Rainer Sauer label. They were making very good wines through 1994.
The 1995 harvest was a big turning point for the estate. The summer of 1995 was very wet. In the beginning of September rains continued and the grapes started to foul before they achieved physiological ripeness. The harvest started in October with the grapes almost ripe but the portion of foul grapes had increased from 25%-50%, all of the foul and mildew fruit was removed! The botrytis affected fruit was vinified after sedimentation of the juice and fermentation followed. The wines were bottled and at a very young stage were quite drinkable. However, after 8 – 12 months the color of the wine turned dark and developed unpleasant dull and musty components in both smell and taste. Any 1995’s still in inventory by 1997 were removed from the market. With this experience, the decision was made for a much more extreme and precise selection with all botrytised fruit removed. This late labor intensive manual harvest with several selective pickings per parcel, with careful handling of the fruit, is followed by slow controlled fermentation. This is why the Rainer Sauer wines are bright, clean, aromatic, subtle and pure, along with a wonderful expression of terroir.
Today, the estate is one of the great Silvaner producers in Franconia, or in the world! With the new system in place the 2000 vintage was the most difficult yet; it was another teaching harvest! At the beginning of harvest, the weather turned wet, rainy and humid and in the late stages of ripening the vines absorbed a lot of water. The grapes expanded, bruising neighboring fruit, a fertile breeding ground for botrytis. The development of the rot was so fast that in the last phase of the harvest the losses everyday mounted to 5% of the total every day. For the harvesters it was an extremely exhausting and laborious selection in very warm temperatures along with very high humidity. What was very unique was that every grape had to be cut through the middle. It was the only way to detect the rot since the grapes were foul from the center on the stems. There were vineyards with more grapes on the ground than in the harvest boxes. The harvest was quite small but with this extreme selection the quality was quite good. All our colleagues thought we were crazy but the quality of the wines showed that we are very crazy like a “fox”.