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Franz Künstler Winery


 This Article Contains

People |

Gunter Künstler

Gunter Künstler

Focus |

Pinot Noir and Riesling with lots of “heart and soul”. They have character and are not overly polished.

Country |


Map of Germany

Region |



Village |

Hochheim am Main

Climate |

Moderate Continental 

  • Relatively cold winters, hot, medium length, fairly rainy summers, with long, cool, dry autumns.
  • This is a special climate for wine in Germany because of four main factors: Aspect, Elevation, and exposure and the River.
  • Historically this was the greatest region for white wine in the world. It is warmer than the Mosel, so vintages were more consistent but Its northerly latitude still put it in the cool continental climate zone. This meant perfectly balanced wines with high acid, but ripe intense fruit concentration and the ability to age for… well…ever. 
  • A bend in the Rhein river means almost the entire Rheingau hillside faces due south, picking up the maximum amount of sunlight and heat available. 
  • Its moderate to steep slope also helped push ripeness higher, and being along a very wide river, meant reflection of the sun onto the vines for a boost from below.
  • Today, what was once a boon, has helped in its waning reputation. Many winemakers continued to push for ripeness in the warming age of climate change, meaning that wines were over ripe, high in alcohol, with low acidities, were generally unbalanced, and not as ageworthy.
  • Top producers, like Küstler, have embraced the changes, replanting to red grapes like Pinot Noir and making incredible, balanced wine, reflective of terroir through a more appropriate grape for the climate.
  • Warmer vintages: 2020, 2019, 2018, 2015 produce wines with lower acidity, higher alcohols, and richer fruit flavors.
  • Cooler vintages: 2021, 2013, 2010, 2008 produce what are now considered “classic” cool-climate wines
  • 2022 is an enigma. It was hot and very dry for most of the growing season, but rain and long cold fall ended up giving us wines that taste more like “classic” cool-climate wines than rich, ripe wines.

Vineyards |

35 hectares in Hochheim

  • Domdechaney: Hochheim, Grand Cru, Löss, loam, gravel and marl. Concentration and body with stunning minerality. Needs at least 2-5 years of development before opening.
  • Kirschenstück: Hochheim, Grand Cru, heavy lime bedrock, with löss, loam, and sand. Protected from the north by Hochheim, on a south facing slope. Wines are light and lively with notes of melon and peach.
  • Hölle: Hochheim, Grand Cru, Very steep site with clay, marl, lime. A light slope with lots of clay for deep dense wines that can show gorgeous complexity with enough time in the cellar.

Hölle vineyard

  • Steilweg: Hochheim, Grand Cru. Heavy loam and clay with sand. 50 year old vines give wine with both a fine grained texture, fruity exuberance and enough complexity for aging.
  • Berg Rottland: Rudesheim, Erste Gewächs. Some deep löss, moving into shallow gravel soils with slate and sandstone. A very steep site, in a protected natural basin with great access to water. Stony, salty wines with body and power.

Steilweg vineyard

  • Berg Schlossberg: Rudesheim, Erste Gewächs.The steepest hillside in the Rheingau with very hard quartzite and slate. Snappy, savory, delicate, lacy with high acidity and beautiful minerality. Some of the finest Riesling on earth. 
Berg Schlossberg

Grape Varieties |

Pinot Noir / Spätburgunder

  • German Pinot Noir wines are vinified as dry red wines with complex cherry aroma with subtle hints of smoke and almond, slight tannins, and high acidity, with a long finish.
  • Had a poor reputation thanks to high yielding, work-horse, clonal material.
  • Now Burgundy clones dominate vineyards for the best producers showcasing this incredible variety's true potential.

Pinot Noir grapes


  • The King of White Grapes. 
  • High acid, semi aromatic
  • A huge variation in style potential from very light and dry, sparkling to the most unctuously sweet wines on the planet. 
  • Divisive for its high acidity and sugar retaining capabilities
  • Perfect in its dynamic nature, ability to transmit the slightest nuance of terroir and being capable of aging for hundreds of years. 

Riesling grapes

Sauvignon Blanc

  • High acid
  • Semi aromatic
  • Light to medium in body depending on location and oak application
  • Originally from France
  • Does extremely well in the limestone soils of the Rheingau.


  • Moderately high acid
  • Neutral in aromatics
  • Responds well to winemaking, no matter the method
  • Originally from Burgundy, France
  • Does well on the limestone soils of Rheingau

Chardonnay grapes

Farming |

Organic Practicing & Sustainable

  • Fair n Green certified
  • 11 hectares are worked organically
  • No herbicides have been used anywhere since 1992.
  • The two rivers create a very humid environment making several parcels impossible to work without fungicides.

Cellar Work |


  • Musts settle by gravity and are pressed clear
  • Cultured yeasts are used because of the high temperatures at harvest, which risk high volatile acidity if done spontaneously. 
  • Most wines are in old cask, with some stainless steel employed.

About the winery |

Established in 1648 north of Vienna in Moravia. After WWII he was forced to expatriate and in 1965 re-established the family business at the confluence of the rivers Mains and Rhein.

What do the wines taste like?

The wines are very pure, clean, and precise, without tasting as though they’ve been sanitized and had the character stripped out of them. They are detailed and meticulous, but also delicious and satisfying.

Wines on Offer |

Künstler, Pinot Noir Dry Tradition, 2021 $37.99 $33.43


Künstler, Riesling Berg Rottland Grosses Gewächs, 2021 $89.99 $79.19

 "this smells more golden, riper, pit fruits and ripe nectrarine with an underlying slate-y-ness and more base note. Savory, but still full of fruit and bone dry. This feels the most calm and open at the moment - large oak – this is my second favorite of the range of Rudeshiem wines. I like the mid-pal density and this yellow raspberry lick of flavor balancing the strong mineral imprint of the wine." -- Gabe Clary, VP Skurnik Wines


Künstler, Riesling Erbacher Macrobrunn Auslese, 2021 (375ml) $104.99 $92.39

 "smells quite clear with just a touch of volatility, deep, red peach flavors, the acid actually doesn’t feel searing as it is enclosed by this excellent structure, great density, but not too heavy. 125 ochs, 140 RS, it is not a searcher – this is very overt and is not mysterious in the way that these great wines can be." -- Gabe Clary, VP Skurnik Wines


Künstler, Riesling Erbacher Macrobrunn Grosses Gewächs, 2021 $139.99 $123.19

 "★★ very clear, balanced between this haunting kind of mineral imprint, planted 1946 and 1974 – this is excellent and gaining depth as the wine gets a bit more air. It has more power and density than Pfaffenberg, the juiciness of fruit is coming out here. It is structured, but with a nice sense of fruit sweetness to balance all of that power." -- Gabe Clary, VP Skurnik Wines


Künstler, Riesling Estate Trocken, 2022 $27.99 $24.63

 "(barrel sample) – this smells quite good, aristocratic and classic here in its aroma. The balance of fruit and mineral flavors is very good – not overt and juicy - 20% large oak and 80% Steel, reduced a bit the oak for this vintage to conserve the freshness of the vintage. It is not a searing wine in terms of acidity, but it is quite saline. A med weight Estate Riesling." -- Gabe Clary, VP Skurnik Wines


Künstler, Riesling Hattenheimer Pfaffenberg [Monopole] Grosses Gewächs, 2021 $89.99 $79.19

 "this smells a little nostalgic, like something warm from a house, a really even keeled and balanced expression of this site. This is not a wine about power, but about elegance and length. With Schlossberg and Kirchenstuck, this is another exciting jewel in the crown of outstanding vineyard sites with a completely different expression." -- Gabe Clary, VP Skurnik Wines


Künstler, Riesling Hattenheimer Pfaffenberg Spätlese, 2021 $104.99 $92.39

 "this is very clear, there seems to be a little bit of botry, but not much, this is a pre-harvest, so they cut off the botry and did whole cluster, clear, lean for this type of wine at this address. I suspect that Gunter is still feeling out these two most impressive and famous sites in Rheingau. It must be like a dream to work with these vineyards. TA is 9.9, RS 105." -- Gabe Clary, VP Skurnik Wines


Künstler, Riesling Hochheim Kirchenstück Grosses Gewächs, 2021 $89.99 $79.19

 "★★ this smells wonderful, bright, red fruited and delicate, an elegant Hoch wine, bright and the mirror to Schlossberg in a bigger frame planted 1969 and 1971." -- Gabe Clary, VP Skurnik Wines


Künstler, Riesling Hochheimer Domdechaney Erste Lage Trocken, 2021 $56.99 $50.15

 "darker fruited and ripe, but again, not overripe, the finish here is excellent, with the finish moving in an orange direction, almost red fruited. This has more amplitude than Stielweg and feels wider and more structured. The Hochheim wines all have this depth and aristocratic poise." -- Gabe Clary, VP Skurnik Wines


Künstler, Riesling Hochheimer Hölle Grosses Gewächs, 2021 $84.99 $74.79

 "★★ this actually has a tiny bit of parm character on the nose, this is the most savory tasting and so far. This wine is completely full of umami and is a wine for lovers of non-fruit flavors." -- Gabe Clary, VP Skurnik Wines


Künstler, Riesling Hochheimer Kirchenstück Im Stein Erste Lage Trocken, 2022 $39.99 $35.19

 "all stainless steel - this as the most elegant vineyard in Hochhiem, this is the old name of this parcel and stainless steel preserves the fruit character. This smells very good – orchard fruits again, a ripe, but not overripe pear, crunchy Orleans reinette apple. There is a touch of ginger here in the nose too, spiciness punctuating a more broad and textured wine. The style of the wine is very relaxed and even." -- Gabe Clary, VP Skurnik Wines


Künstler, Riesling Hochheimer Mainterassen Trocken, 2021 $30.99 $27.27

 "Ortswein – This smells quite good. I liked this wine a lot in 2020, but it had a much riper fruit character and this made the wine more approachable, more round. This vintage the wine is a bit more pointed, more angular and less charming than the previous vintage. The level of acidity is making the wine play at a slightly higher register." -- Gabe Clary, VP Skurnik Wines


Künstler, Riesling Hochheimer Stielweg Alte Reben Erste Lage Trocken, 2022 $47.99 $42.23

 "this is a bit drier and more extract, a bit fuller here in comparison to the Im Stein wine 60-72 years old, this is quite good in terms of texture – again, this kind of poised aristocratic nature. More round, but not soft. All large oak casks. The empty glass here smells great, more yellow fruited and mellow." -- Gabe Clary, VP Skurnik Wines


Künstler, Riesling Rüdesheimer Berg Schlossberg Grosses Gewächs, 2021 $114.99 $101.19

 "★★ this shimmering aroma of Schlossberg, super pure and transparent. This is head and shoulders above the other two Rudesheim sites – large oak. Very good, even with another 20 mins in the glass, it is still showing the purity of fruit here coupled with the sensation that only Schlossberg brings – like a cool but brilliantly sunny Spring day. Not nearly as weighty and textural as the Hochheim wines but with an even deeper resonance." -- Gabe Clary, VP Skurnik Wines