We arrived on the premises of the Baden-Badener Winzergenossenschaft on a sunny early autumn day, just in time for the weekly tour on Fridays. The vineyards start right next to the parking lot, at this time of the year they were full of ripe grapes.
The tour covers all processing steps and required equipment to make wine. When the grapes are delivered, they are first cleaned a bit and then weighed. Apparently, there can be huge line of trucks packed with delicious grapes waiting in season. For this reason, there are 14 presses that can be operated in parallel. When the juice has been extracted, yeast is added for the fermentation process in one of the countless number of tanks on the lower levels. The tanks come in all sizes and types – made out of wood and steel, fitting up to 20,000L of liquid. There are also many smaller ones for more experimental batches in order to try out different types of yeast or for very rare grapes. All in all, the tanks can fit 4 million liters. However, only about 2 million liters are used nowadays in high season, since the trend goes towards quality instead of quantity. Since it would be expensive to get rid of the unused ones, they just sit there hoping to be re-activated once more.
After the fermentation process the wine is filtered once more and finally bottled. The fully automatic bottling station is so efficient that it only needs to run twice a week for a couple of hours, bottling more than 20,000 bottles in each shift. Since early in the century, several bottles of the best batches are saved in the rarity chamber. The chamber is packed with bottles, full of dust, spiderwebs, and mold. These wines are tested at least once a year and periodically on sale. You can get a 40 year old bottle which still tastes great for less than 100€. And best of all, it comes with all the mold and spiderwebs!
The tour finished with a tasting of the local wines. In less than an hour, we had 6 delicious small glasses of wine, alternating between the younger white wines and oak-barrel matured red ones. Totally outstanding was their Spätburgunder which also received several awards. It had a very complex taste, very earthy, nutty, and dark red berry-like. We got a bottle to take home with us!