I first came across this idea when I was looking for things to do in Rheinland-Pfalz that my family has not yet done. Then, suddenly I was seeing references to this place a lot. Now I know the internet plays a part in this – it ‘magically’ multiplies what you search for, showing you more of it. This is likely a factor but doesn’t explain my husband’s sudden desire to watch travel shows about the Mosel River or Rheinland-Pfalz.
In Germany, (arguably) the oldest company still in operation is a winery first formed in 862 as part of a wine-producing Abby in the town of Kröv, near Traben-Trabach and Bernkastel Kues. Here, I am speaking of the Staffelter Hof in a little wine village along the Mosel River between Bernkastel-Kues and Traben-Trabach.
I say arguably because other resources on the internet claim others are the oldest. However, outside of Wikipedia, the best resources I could find on the internet claimed the ‘oldest business in Germany’ was a brewery, Weihenstephan Monastery Brewery (Bayerische Staatsbrauerei Weihenstephan, Freising) that began in 1030. Of course, it would be a brewery. The next oldest company according to the same article said the next business, also a brewery, began in 1040.
Another website claims the oldest winery in Germany is Niersteiner Glöck. According to Germanwines.com “A historic charter proves that the vineyard “Niersteiner Glöck” is Germany’s oldest named vineyard site. It was gifted in 742 by the Diocese of Würzburg to the Carolingian ruler Majordomo Karlmann, uncle of Charlemagne.” (source) The next notable oldest winery in Germany is Schloss Johannisberg between Bingen and Mainz. This winery was apparently the first to be solely planted with Riesling grapes – meaning the first in the world, then became the first vineyard to produce the ‘Spätlese’ a German term for late harvest wine that is produced from fully ripe grapes—in 1775. However, the vineyard was first apparently planted in 817. “The vineyards around the palace were first mentioned in 817 when Emperor Ludwig the Pious (also known as Louis the Pious) acquired them from Fulda Abbey.” (source)
What exactly makes Staffelterhof different from these other wineries?
First records of Staffelterhof can be found in Liege Belgium’s city archives since, at the time, the area was controlled by the Carolingian Dynasty (relating to Charlemagne).
This was the case until 1804 when the Napoleonic Code replaced feudal law with clearly written laws across Europe.
In 1805 the winery was bought by the Peter Schneiders family who has subsequently passed it down through the family over seven generations to its current winemaker, Jan Klein, who took over from his father, Gerd Klein.
In the 1960s the family added a guest house to the property, which has been run by Jan Klein’s mother ‘Gundi’.
Not shown is the (peach) schnapps we also bought, which is produced and distilled on the property (along with other flavors too) since 1890.
Additionally not visible is the wonderfully casual nature of the exchange that took place. We rolled up, not knowing where to park – so parked near the entrance. Knocked on their door, which I think was also the entrance to their house. Asked if we could buy some wine and were treated to a small wine tasting. I would have gladly had more, but I was driving.
Over to you
What is the oldest company in your country?
Have you ever visited Germany’s Mosel or Rhein wine region? What are your favorite wineries, experiences, or memories from your visit?
Have you tried any of the wines from the wineries mentioned here? What did you think of them?
- “German Firms with the Longest Corporate History”. (12.07.2019) Catherine Delikhan (hg) – DW.com
- “List of the Oldest Still Operating German Companies”. (14.08.2007) Thomas Jannot – just4business.com
- “Oldest Wineries in the World.” (10.04.21) Manas Sen Gupta – Prestigeonline.com
- Staffelterhof homepage
- Staffelterhof – Wikipedia (English) (German)
- “The Oldest Companies in the World”. (06.02.2020) – Businessfinancing.co.uk. (with beautiful infographics)
- “The World’s Oldest Companies Still Operating Today”. (25.04.2017) Amber Pariona – WorldAtlas.com