In 2002, before our annual late summer trip to Germany, I sent a fax to Werner Schönleber asking if we might visit his winery to taste. I had just read about him in the French-language version of Vinum - the influential European wine magazine, and I remembered that hes a close friend of Jochen Ratzenberger.
No producer in my experience has ever been better prepared for a first meeting. There were nearly forty wines ready to taste. And no producer has better understood what it is we are trying to accomplish.
Schönleber is the perfect example of a small producer for whom the farm-stand model (enthusiastic, direct sales to consumers, in a relatively restricted local market) works better than the supermarket model (the national distribution system).
In the first year of our relationship, more Schönleber wine was sold in two Moore Brothers stores than had been sold in the previous year in the whole of the United States.