Women in Wine: Caroline Diel of Schlossgut Diel

In our April 1st newsletter, we set out an objective. As part of an effort to encourage diversity of every kind in the industry, we will regularly report on, and interview, successful and up-and-coming members of the industry who do not conform to the old white, male stereotype.

Today we start with Caroline Diel of Schlossgut Diel in the Nahe in Germany.

Reading time: 1m 50s

Caroline Diel (Photo: Hendrik Haase)
Caroline Diel (Photo: Hendrik Haase)
Schlossgut Diel

Family-run VDP vinery in Burg Layen in the Nahe

  • History: Acquisition of estate and Burg Layen by Peter Diel in 1802
  • Proprietor: Caroline Diel and Sylvain Taurisson-Diel
  • Grape varieties: 60% Riesling, 40% red and white Pinot
  • Size: 25 ha / 180,000 bottles
  • Export: 30%, important markets Scandinavia, Asia & USA

Seen from a distance

Caroline Diel is always the first, the first woman to run the family estate and the first oenologist in the family to learn winemaking from scratch. Anja Zimmer tells us her story. 

Caroline Diel’s journey was far from predestined. She had to travel a long way before she knew how much she missed her home. Born into a distinguished winemaking family, it was not until she was graduating from High School in California that she realized she wanted to follow that tradition. And the journey back to Germany involved stops in Champagne and Burgundy, Austria, South Africa, and New Zealand, among other places.

Riesling "in her blood"

Back in the Nahe, at last, Diel is focused on getting close to the grapes, vineyard and cellar. Nevertheless, the start was not easy. Her first year, 2006, was marked by capricious weather, by a lot of rain in the fall, so that the harvest was an ordeal. Again and again tasting grapes in the vineyards to choose the right moment to pick was a real baptism of fire for the young winemaker. But it was worth it. Asked today about her recipe, she has to laugh. For her, winemaking is all about gut feeling, doing the right thing at the right moment and tickling out everything the soil has to offer. And preferably doing everything herself. Because that way she is sure that the wines bear her signature, straightforward, spicy, very focused, like Caroline Diel herself.

But she also knows that viticulture is a process of constant change, which is being further accelerated by climate change. While in the beginning she wanted to create more contours in her wines, through (controlled) drought stress and defoliation, today it often goes further in the other direction. Shading and adequate irrigation are the new challenges. And Diel accepts them, for herself and for her family. Because she also sees her job as preparation for the next generation of Diels.  


This article is published in cooperation with the German Wine Institute. Meininger's editor-in-chief Anja Zimmer interviewed six leading women in the wine industry and asked them how they look back on their careers and what the future hold for them. She also visited six female winemakers to hear from their daily challenges, dreams and experiences.




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