Martin Schaetzel founded the Domaine in 1930, not long before the Second World War engulfed Europe with particularly damaging results for Alsace. The first photo in the slideshow shows Schaetzel standing on the rubble of the winery (on the left) in 1945. From the start, there was an emphasis on quality and the celebration of the diverse soils of the region, but it would be misguided to romanticize any French winery’s existence during this period. The years after WWII were all about survival, and the Domaine did just that, making it through the post war period until Martin’s nephew Jean took over in 1979.
A self described “ecological militant”, Jean built on the foundation his uncle passed on by diving deeper into the specific soils of each vineyard, notably separating wines from the Kaefferkopf vineyard into multiple Cuvees based on the dominant subsoil. Hand in hand with the pursuit of different terroirs came Jean’s dedication to organic and biodynamic farming. He is one of the leaders of the organic wine scene in Alsace, not only due to his own farming, but also thanks to his role as a teacher at the local university where his courses have included “Wine tasting for Winemakers”, “Organic Farming for Winemakers”, and of course, Winemaking. Jean’s depth of knowledge and technical ability is stunning.
Today, Jean has been joined by one of his former oenology students, Michel Vié, whose family has made wine in the Southwest of France since 1654. Anyone who Jean would have accepted as a partner was going to have to demonstrate a powerful intellect, and Michel’s background as an engineer and a fighter pilot certainly speaks to a well trained mind. But to reduce either Michel or Jean to the role of skilled technician in the vines and in the winery would be to miss their shared love of wine and joie de vivre. Alsace can be one of the personally warmest regions in France, and the Domaine and its team reflects that in their wines which are above all, a joy to drink.