Together for nearly 1,000 years
The Count’s Matuschka von Greiffenclau family lineage can be traced back to the Charlemagne era (747 or 748 – 814) – and their connection to winemaking has been there from the start. Charlemagne ordered the Greiffenclau family to leave their seat in Thionville, in Lorraine, France, and establish a vineyard in Germany’s Rhineland-Palatinate.
However, it was under King Louis I that the family first became winegrowers. The house on the family’s estate, known as the ‘Graue Haus’, in Rheingau is the oldest stone house in Germany.
The world’s oldest winegrowing family?
When the Marquis Antinori of Florence hired a historian to prove his family is the oldest winemaking family in Europe, he was shocked to discover that the title actually belongs to the Greiffenclaus!
According to the historian’s research, the Greiffenclau family has been producing wine at least since 1211. The family also owns a wine receipt dated from that year – further proof, if any were needed, of their winemaking pedigree.
A rich harvest
In 1492, the year America was discovered, the Greiffenclau family recorded a wine harvest of 269 hectoliters. Historians estimate that, at the end of the 15th century, the family's vineyard covered an area of 12 hectares.
17th – 18th Centruy
Intensive winegrowing in the Rheingau
After the end of the 30-year War, families in the Rheingau, Palatanate and Franconia regions of Germany began intensive viticulture again.
In 1729, Baron of Empire Johann Erwein von Greiffenclau, became a pioneer by overseeing the very first late harvest. Johann Erwein exported the family’s wine to at least ten German principalities and Kingdoms, as well as to the Netherlands. He also introduced the term ‘cabinet’ as a mark of quality.
As the reputation of the Greiffenclaus’ wine rose so too did the family’s own reliance on viticulture.
In 1830, following Napolean’s occupation and the economic decline it caused, Otto Philipp von Greiffenclau took control of the estate in Rheingau, restoring the vineyard and house to their former glory. This was no easy task as not only did he have to repair the damage caused by the occupation, he also had to replant the vines as they had become infected by grape phylloxera.
After his death, Otto Philipp’s niece Sophie and her husband inherited the estate. His name was Count Hugo von Matuschka, heir to Baron von Spaegten und Toppolzcan.
Counts Guido and Richard Matuschka von Greiffenclau
When the estate passed to him in 1897, Count Guido Matuschka-Greiffenclau immediately resigned as Chief of Police and devoted himself to viticulture. Together with his wife Clara, nee Baroness von Oppenheim, Guido marketed his award-winning wines throughout Europe until the start of the First World War.
After Guido’s death in 1924, his only remaining son, Richard, took over the vineyard. During the darkest days of the Weimar Republic, Richard battled to keep the family business afloat. He had only just got onto an even keel when the Second World War broke out.
But, once again, the family overcame they challenges they faced. Richard was not only President of the Rheingau Association, but also President of the German Winegrowers' Association, Vice President of the International Wine Office in Paris, and a Minister in the EEC.
Richard’s son Erwein took over the business in the 1980s and pursued his passion for German wine, especially the Rheingau Riesling, right up until his premature death. Ownership of family’s estate then passed to a bank.
Before his death, Count Erwein Matuschka von Greiffenclau spent many years as Chairman of the Association of German Quality Wineries and President of the Rheingau Winegrowers’ Society.
The 28th generation of the family now lives in Switzerland. To keep the family tradition of winegrowing alive, Count Markus Matuschka von Greiffenclau bought the vineyard Domaine Privé in Petite Champagne, France.
At Domaine Privé, the family produces the finest organic wines on their 12-hectare estate. They deliberately limit their yield to 20,000 bottles a year.
The vineyard today
Domaine Privé is managed today by Countess Eva-Maria and Vineyard Director Anne Lopes. They focus on organic methods, as that is the only way to ensure the quality of our wines.