At the end of the Nuremberg Trials, Chief Justice Aarsen Schlurner smiled at his fellow judges, removed his wire-framed spectacles, popped them in his jacket pocket and beckoned to his driver.
“A drop of local wine would be a fine way to celebrate.”
With a knowing nod, Karl Litt Von-Ripp immediately chauffeured Schlurner 15 miles south and turned off the main road at Roth and headed for Bachgasse Street and the vineyards abutting the River Roth.
The popping of the cork was loud, deliberate and crisp, with the slightest hint of an echo.
The crystal glinted in the sunlight as the deep red wine burbled into the glass, sounding so like the waters of the Roth that meandered just below the patio, where Schlurner inhaled the heady scent of fermented grape.
For Von-Ripp this was no small success, for the Grapes of Roth was his family’s new venture. The area was rich in Spätburgunder grapes or pinot noir or Late Burgundian as the German translates into English.
When Chief Justice Aarsen Schlurner gave his approval to the Spätburgunder on October 1, 1946 little did he know his name and photo would be attached to all future bottles of the Grapes of Roth Spätburgunder.
Especially because he died from a heart attack five minutes after that first sip. Questions remain regarding the true cause of Shlurner’s demise.
Today the Grapes of Roth visitor center tells that story in a multimedia presentation.
Von-Ripp retired in 1999 and now his grandson Gurt runs operations.
“We export thousands of bottles every year but our greatest pleasure is greeting tourists and locals here in Bavaria,” says Gurt.
While the winery produces whites and a rather scrumptious semi-dry rose, it’s the Spätburgunder that is most associated with Roth. And it’s for this red that 150,000 visit Roth every year.
“We make sure everyone Spät rather than swallowed,” says chief taster and senior guide Wendy Vermann.