This centuries-old estate is located a few kilometres from Trier in the village of Eitelsbach, which is on the Ruwer River, not far from where it meets the Mosel. It is thought viticulture in this area dates back to Roman times; however the estate itself is named after the Carthusian order (Karthäuser) founded by Saint Bruno of Cologne in the 11th century. Monks from this order owned the estate and grew grapes here for several hundred years. In 1811 it was bought by Valentin Leonardy, and it has remained in his family ever since, and has been run by the sixth generation Christophe Tyrell since 1986.
Interestingly, Karthäuserhof is something of a rarity when it comes to German viticulture, in which estates normally have various plots in vineyards that have a multitude of owners - instead, it uses grapes from just one vineyard, Karthäuserhofberg, which is in one block and owned exclusively by the Tyrell family.
Karthäuserhofberg is a 19-hectare plot on the steep slopes of a protected side valley of the Ruwer river, and is planted with 90% riesling and 10% pinot blanc vines, some of which are 40 years old. The rose-red clay and slate soils impart a marked mineral character to the wines and act in tandem: the clay retains the necessary water whereas the slate retains the necessary heat. The vineyard team uses only organic fertilisers and encourages natural predators to limit its use of pesticides to an absolute minimum.
Unsurprisingly due to steep slopes of the vineyard, all harvesting is done by hand, with successive pickings for the estate's different riesling classifications, from kabinett to spätlese through to beerenauslese and trockenbeerenauslese when the grapes have dried on the vine. The grapes are then taken to be vinified in the vaulted stone cellars under the estate buildings.
After pressing, the clear grape juice is fermented in stainless-steel tanks, which are cooled to the right temperature using local spring water. Up to 60 batches of grapes are vinified separately so they can be blended together post fermentation to create a fully complex and harmonious wine.
The estate has several hectares of scenic woodland and centuries-old trees, and also still has a 12th-century castle in the grounds named after Saint Bruno, the estate's founder.