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“They sold their wine by the barrel in bistros”

Jean-Marc Schlink (Caves Schlink in Machtum) has dug out some old photographs spanning the estate’s first two generations, the first being that of founder Jean-Pierre Hoffeld and the second, his son-in-law, Jean Schlink.

Jean-Marc Schlink has had a rummage around in the family archives and dug out some old photographs that have been kept for almost 70 years. It is immediately apparent from these archives that viticulture is a tradition spanning many years, even though methods, techniques and production targets have clearly changed dramatically since this era pre-dating the locks built along the Moselle.

The estate was founded by Jean-Pierre Hoffeld in 1911. It was later taken over by the Schlink branch of the family in 1960, when Jean Schlink married Anne Hoffeld. These photographs go back to the days of the current winemaker Jean-Marc Schlink’s great grandparents. Jean Schlink, who came from a family of farmers in Bivels (near Vianden), moved to the Moselle to forge a new path and embrace winemaking.

Unafraid of shaking up established practice, Jean adopted modern tools. He also took a chance on selling wine by the bottle as opposed to relying solely on wholesaling. He instigated a minor revolution in terms of quality and this spirit continues to this day on the estate. René and his son Jean-Marc Schlink in turn took up the baton with ambitious projects of their own focused resolutely on their terroir. This is an enduring story indeed!

PHOTO 1

“This photo was taken in 1956 – the date is written on the back. You can see my great-grandfather Jean-Pierre Hoffeld right at the top wearing a hat. He founded the estate. To me, this is an interesting photo as it shows how harvesting was done back in those days. Harvesters carrying back baskets poured grape clusters into a press positioned over a wooden tub on a cart. They had to turn the big handle to crush the grapes. Once the tub was full, horses were fetched and they went back to the cellar. My great-grandparents founded the estate. In the early days, they sold their wine by the barrel in bistros. It was Elbling or Rivaner. When the barrel was empty, someone went to collect it. The next generation introduced bottling to the estate under my grandfather Jean Schlink.”

PHOTO 2

“Here, you can see the same cart in a photo traditionally taken at the end of the harvest. In those days, the grapes were picked mainly by family and friends. Nowadays, seasonal workers mainly do this job. I hire about ten every year. Having said that, my parents and two sisters are always on hand to help out … and there’s always plenty to do! The atmosphere was different back then too. Harvest time was more festive than it is today and people used to go out to bistros a lot more.”

PHOTO 3

“Here’s my grandmother Anne Hoffeld, who married Jean Schlink. In the background, you can see Nittel (editor’s note – opposite Machtum, on the German side). That means she’s on the Ongkâf terroir, which is like the birthplace of our estate and the jewel in our crown. She’s standing near a horse. We didn’t have a tractor back then.”

PHOTO 4

“This is the village of Machtum and the Moselle has burst its banks.  The vines you can see opposite are in Germany. Those were the days before the Moselle was canalised and floods were much more common than they are nowadays (editor’s note – work began in 1956 and the Moselle was officially opened for navigation on 26 May 1964).”

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