World-famous winery with headquarters in the castle of the same name on the famous Johannisberg in the Rheingau. It is said that already Charlemagne (742-814) had a vineyard planted at Johannisberg for the first time. Between 1096 and 1100 Benedictine monks from Mainz built a monastery on the plateau of the Bischofsberg above the village of Johannisberg and also cultivated vineyards. The basilica "Johannes der Täufer" was consecrated in 1130 and gave the monastery and community its name. In 1716 the prince abbot of Fulda, Konstantin von Buttlar (1679-1726), bought the remains from the electoral bishop of Mainz, Lothar Franz von Schönborn (1655-1729), for 75,392 gulden, had the building demolished and erected a three-winged baroque palace building there as a summer residence. A huge, 250-metre-long cellar was added to the old cellar in 1721.
At that time, it was common practice in the Rheingau to cultivate the vineyards in mixed sets, including the historic varieties Elbling and Orléans. In 1720, the prince abbot had the mixed set torn out on the southern slope of the Rhine and planted with Riesling. This contributed to the popularity and spread of the variety also known as "Johannisberg Riesling". Johannisberg cuttings were sought after on all continents, and many a vine in Australia, South Africa and the USA is descended from here. During the Napoleonic Wars the Rheingau was occupied by the French and in 1803 the castle plus vineyards were secularised. Emperor Napoleon (1769-1821) donated the estate to his marshal François-Étienne-Christophe Kellermann (1735-1820), Duke of Valmy. He sold the entire harvest of the famous 1811 vintage to Gottlieb Mumm (1782-1852), thus founding the current G.H. von Mumm winery.
The poet Heinrich Heine (1797-1856) wrote enthusiastically about the Johannisberg: "Mon Dieu, if only I had so much faith in me that I could move mountains, the Johannisberg would be just the kind of mountain that I would follow anywhere. Other famous lovers of Johannisberg wine were Johann W. von Goethe (1749-1832), who was offered a Riesling Johannisberg Cabinet vintage 1748 for his 66th birthday, the author of the novel "Lederstrumpf" (Leather Stocking) James Fenimore Cooper (1789-1851) and the German Emperor Wilhelm II (1859-1941). Goethe visited Johannisberg Palace in 1814 and wrote: "Johannisberg is enthroned above all. The magnates have no rank dispute among themselves. Hochheimer, Johannisberger and Rüdesheimer accept each other, only under the gods of lower rank there is jealousy and envy".
In a letter Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), the later US president, wrote after a trip to the Rhine in 1788: "Interrupt your journey in Rüdesheim and at the Johannisberg monastery to check the vineyards and wines there, the latter is the best produced on the Rhine, it is incomparable and costs about as much as the oldest Hochheimer. The 1775 vintage is the best". In the same year, the famous story of the late vintner took place on the Johannisberg, a sculpture in the courtyard of the castle testifies to this. From 1788 onwards, all vintages were bottled and exact bottling lists with origin, bottle price and filling quantity were drawn up. The monks began to read more selectively and systematically produced Spätlese and Auslese. In 1858 one of the first ice wines was pressed here, as documented in documents.
After the Battle of Leipzig in 1813 and the defeat of Napoleon, the estate was under joint administration by Austria, Prussia and Russia until 1815. In the course of negotiations at the Congress of Vienna (1814-1815), it came into the possession of the Austrian Emperor Franz I (1768-1835), who donated it to Prince Klemens Wenzel Lothar Count Metternich-Winneburg (1773-1859) for his services to European peace on the condition that the Habsburg family or their legal successors be paid an annual tithe of the proceeds. This agreement is still valid today, the beneficiary being the House of Habsburg.
In 1942 the castle was bombed and almost completely destroyed. The great-grandson of the chancellor Paul Alfons Metternich rebuilt it in its old glory until 1965. The owner is the "Fürst von Metternich-Winneburg'sche Domäne Schloss Johannisberg GbR". The administrator is Christian Witte and the cellar master is Gerd Ritter (who is also responsible for the neighbouring G.H. von Mumm vineyard). At the end of 2001 the 900th anniversary of the estate was celebrated at Schloss Johannisberg with numerous celebrities.
The vineyards cover 35 hectares of vineyards in the monopoly owned Schloss Johannisberg site, which extends below the castle at an altitude of 114 to 182 metres with a slope gradient of 10 to 45%. Schloss Johannisberg is administratively a separate district of Geisenheim, which, with the 1971 wine law, gives the right to use the name of the vineyard without the name of the village on the bottle label. The soil consists of stony loess and loam with Taunus quartz in the subsoil. The 50th degree of latitude, which is generally regarded as the northern limit for commercial viticulture, runs right through this vineyard as a special geographical feature. However, the excellent microclimate allows figs, almonds and lemons to ripen here.
After a whole grape pressing, the wines are fermented slowly and cool. The quality levels are indicated by colours. These are yellow for quality wine, red for Kabinett, green for Spätlese, pink for Auslese, pink-gold for Beerenauslese, gold for Trockenbeerenauslese and blue for Eiswein. The 1996 Eiswein is described as the wine of the century. It was harvested early in the morning on 26 December in the freezing cold and had a must weight of 180 °Oechsle and 18.9 per mille acidity. Around 260,000 bottles of wine are produced annually. Schloss Johannisberg is the origin of the sparkling wine brand "Fürst von Metternich", see the history under Söhnlein.