The long-term fate of Schloss Vollrads, publicly uncertain for eight years, has been settled. The Wiesbaden bank that owns the historic Rheingau estate has firmly decided not to sell it, the estate's managing director has confirmed.
Managing director Rowald Hepp said that the owner, regional savings bank Nassauische Sparkasse, was no longer interested in offers.
Schloss Vollrads, near Oestrich-Winkel, has made a profit in each fiscal year since 1999 when Hepp took over, he said in two interviews.
Hepp said the owner is heartened about the rebirth of Schloss Vollrads and anticipates a prosperous future there. He hopes to renew his contract next year.
The bank ‘has had serious interest from buyers all over the world,’ Hepp said. Sensitive to public opinion and its image in the Rheingau, the bank feared ‘selling it to the wrong people.’
The previous owner, Erwein Graf Matuschka-Greiffenclau, committed suicide in his vineyard in August 1997, one day after the bank began bankruptcy proceedings against him. The bank had acquired portions of debt held by others and took full control after Matuschka’s death.
In his efforts to upgrade the property Graf Matuschka had accumulated debts exceeding DM20m (about $13m) after he took over the management in 1976.
Since Matuschka’s death, potential investors from several countries had expressed interest in the estate, whose first recorded wine sale dates to 1211 and is considered a national treasure in Germany. Its stone tower, a Rhine landmark, dates to 1330.
Hepp was hired after the bank could not find investors to buy the entire property at an acceptable price; the bank refused offers of €13 to €15m.
In 1999, Hepp’s first year, Schloss Vollrads made a profit of €165,000. In 2004, the profit was €485,000.
The entire property has been upgraded and production has grown from 300,000 to 450,000 bottles yearly.
There is rising interest in riesling in America and globally, Hepp said.
Written by Howard G Goldberg in New York