~ Bergheim ~ Sylvie Spielmann ~ The domaine ~ Soils and climate ~ Winegrowing and winemaking ~

- Personal background -


800 years of winegrowing and winemaking

The Altenberg area, well known for its wines since the twelfth century, is a source of pride for Bergheim residents. In fact, its renown dates from much earlier times. As early as the third century, the Romans cultivated grape vines here - fact illustrated by the restored mosaic from an old villa which can be seen near the historical centre.

Bergheim, which had the privilege of being a fortified and free city, boasts a rich history, still evident on its walls and in its streets. Situated in a province where travellers often passed and battles were often fought, Bergheim‘s past was tumultuous at times.

Throughout these events, the Bergheim residents always courageously and proudly defended their city and their freedom.

Today, they continue to proudly defend their most cherished customs, winegrowing being at the heart of these traditions.

Sylvie Spielmann

A woman in tune with an exceptional terroir

After studying winegrowing in Champagne and Burgundy, Sylvie Spielmann went to California, then Australia to discover new approaches to winegrowing.

She thus spent a few years away from the family vineyards. Enriched by her new experiences, she returned to pour her energy into her family's extraordinary terroir .

It is unusual to find a woman managing a vineyard. Yet, in the Spielmann family, it's becoming a tradition, as Sylvie's mother was head of the property before her.

Indeed , an unmistakable woman's touch can be felt in the way wine is made at the Domaine.

“What attracted me so strongly to this profession was that, at first, everything seemed to separate me from it. Being a woman and choosing my own path are factors that drew me in other directions.

So I went elsewhere, but I never strayed far from vines and winemaking. Abroad, I understood that the challenge I was seeking was right here on my doorstep. Happiness, too! The Domaine Sylvie Spielmann awaited me…”

The Domaine Sylvie Spielmann

A strong personality

“The history of the Domaine Sylvie Spielmann is linked to the old gypsum quarry, which was mined by my family for more than a century. During the Crimean War, my grandfather observed how plaster was made out of gypsum there. He had seen similar stone in Bergheim, so he decided to start mining it. His initiative was soon copied as no less than six plaster mills sprung up in the area last century.” Initially, the mines were above ground, then underground tunnels descending as far as 50 metres below the surface were dug. The Spielmann family was the last to continue operating their quarry, and in parallel, the second generation started winegrowing.

Today, gypsum continues to leave its mark on the Domaine's character , as the 8 hectares of vines stretch essentially around the old quarry, which today has been filled in and planted over with vines. Building on the Domaine's strong identity, Sylvie Spielmann, who is always eager to learn, discover and understand new concepts , has made it her mission to create very fine wines from this special terroir - and she makes no compromises on the quality.

Soil and climate

Understanding the terroir...

To make fine wines, it is essential to constantly observe the land and how each grape variety is influenced by the soil and climate.

The soils at the Domaine Sylvie Spielmann, predominantly made up of clay, marl and limestone, are fairly heavy. Winter sets in a little later than elsewhere. The former gypsum quarry creates a microclimate and a specific typology. These are the characteristics that give the wines their distinctive personality and capacity to age well.

The Domaine Sylvie Spielmann also encompasses two vineyards, which are rated “Alsace Grand Cru”: the Grand Cru Altenberg de Bergheim and the Grand Cru Kanzlerberg. The Blosenberg and Engelgarten vineyards also possess particular qualities that merit a separate winemaking process.

Winegrowing and winemaking

Enhancing the wine's qualities

In an effort to enhance quality and protect the environment, the Domaine Sylvie Spielmann has chosen to become a certified organic producer. Through very rationalised, organic fertilising, it is seeking to establish a harmonious balance between increasing grape production and protecting the land.

To obtain controlled harvests - also a measure of quality - the size of the grapes is an important element, and surplus grapes have to be eliminated.

Concerning the winemaking stage in the wine cellar, the Domaine Sylvie Spielmann has invested in modern wine tanks in order to better control the winemaking process. Small tanks are used to separate the batches, thus preserving the specific typology of the wines and the character of each vineyard parcel.

“… Since then, I decided to make the most of what my family and Mother Nature had given me… I could have settled for making very good wines. But I wanted to do better, at least in my view. I wanted to give them their own personality. I don't mean that they claim to be the best, but simply themselves. And if, as some say, they resemble me a little, all the better!”