It's quite fitting that Alsatian meaning of Schoenheitz is related to "beauty" and "a taste for good things". One visit to the sleepy little town of Wihr-au-Val in the Muenster Valley and you begin to see why. At the very limit of the viticultural area, and with a relatively cold microclimate, Dominique and Henri Schoenheitz are crafting some of the most exciting wines in all of Alsace, all in an area that's most well known for its cheese.
The region has been a major winemaking area since the Middle Ages but was largely destroyed during the fighting of the two World Wars. The Schoenheitz family originated from Tyrol in Austria. They immigrated to Alsace after The Thirty Years War and started the wine business in Wihr-au-Val in 1812. The actual cellar was built in 1809 for a big negociant but he sold the business very quickly to the family. Production continued until the First World War when most of the vineyards surrounding the village were destroyed due to the proximity of one of the biggest battlefields in the region. After the First World War they started rebuilding the vineyard, but that was soon interrupted by the start of the Second World War. The damage this time around was catastrophic and the German army destroyed the entire village. No more vineyards No more cellars.
During the 1970s, Henri Schoenheitz Sr. started the arduous task of reviving these historical vineyards. In 1980 Dominique and the younger Henri Schoenheitz,Jr., both fresh graduates of oenology school, launched themselves into their first harvests. The wines of Domaine Schoenheitz were yet to be created. For them it was like the pleasure of a blank page, waiting to be written on. These young vintners, the only independent wine makers in the village, quickly began defining their style: sustainable agriculture as a method to create epicurean wines."
Today the property consists of 15 hectares mostly situated on granite slopes facing due south. A couple of miles further down the valley, the hillsides become Grand Cru Brand. The family has three Lieux-dits, Herrenreben, Holder and Linsenberg, all of which are between 400-600 meters in elevation. Herrenreben (sand) is best for Riesling and Pinot Noir, Holder (clay) is best for Pinot Gris and Gewurztraminer, while Linsenberg (gravel) is planted to Riesling, Pinot Noir and Gewurztraminer.
Dominique and Henri's son Adrien, who has worked stints in Chateauneuf-du-Pape with Viuxe Telegraphe, in Australia with Torbreck, and in New Zealand and Switzerland is now fully entrenched as the Domaine's winemaker since 2014.