A Bottle Full of Memories


Students harvest vines

The first KLU wine is made with love by KLU students, produced on an organic German family winery, Weingut Kampf

It’s a bittersweet time of life when the end of your studies approaches and you begin to realize that after graduation you will each go your separate ways to begin the rest of your life. For a group of enterprising and passionate graduates from KLU’s class of 2014, finding some way to prolong their time together was irresistible, so a group trip to Weingut Kampf was planned that September.

Sabine Kampf grew up on the family’s winery in Flonheim, nearly 600 km south of Hamburg, located in one of Germany’s largest wine regions, Rheinhessen. In the Kampf family, everyone who’s available to pitch in, from harvesting to selling at wine festivals - cousins, aunts, uncles, friends - all help out. “It's a lot of fun working together as a family, it can also be really challenging as well!” Sabine says.

“It was a hard time for all of us students,” Sabine remembers from that graduation year, “we were sitting together in Hamburg drinking a glass of wine, Lucian and I were discussing what to do after graduation - that maybe we would go back to the winery. But we couldn’t just say goodbye to KLU and start our new chapter just yet.” So the idea blossomed, and plans were made for more students to join in and experience the magic, picking and harvesting at the winery.

Federico Marino and Lucian Hopf joined Sabine for several weeks at harvest time, as well as Claire Dewaele, Quentin Ertzscheid, Matteo Brezza and Yimin Yin, who joined in for a long weekend of working - and celebrating. Some parents even came along too.
Starting out with great ambitions, once the team work actually started and the dream became a reality, they became aware of their capabilities, “In the end when we each had our job, it was harder to realize absolutely all of the ideas,” Sabine explained, “because you realize how much time is consumed by the job.”

Weingut Kampf operates as an organic farm since 2014, which presents its challenges and benefits too. Of course less pesticides and fertilizer are used in the vineyards; and later in the cellar, only organic ingredients are added, resulting in a more hands-on approach to ensure healthy and tasty grapes. “Organic wine making is not that easy because you are limited in what you can spray on vines,” Sabine explains. The workload is heavier, because the vineyards need to be checked manually once a week, to monitor any illness on the vines, and keep an eye on nutrients that the vineyards need to stay healthy. It can also happen that multiple vineyards are ready to be harvested at the same time, which is when all those helping hands are much appreciated.

“You see the difference in the amount of grapes,” Sabine says, explaining that as the vine gets used to organic practices, it starts to recover from being pushed to produce a large amount of grapes. The organic grapes may appear a little smaller, but if you taste them, they are much more intense. Sabine’s knowledge has come a long way, “As a child, I thought it was like baking a cake,” she remembers, “You have certain ingredients which need to be added, and at the end there is the bottle of wine.” After studying international wine business, combined with the experience of working on the family winery and dealing with other wine companies and organizations, Sabine sees winemaking as a great combination of theoretical and practical skills. “It’s the same thing as enjoying wine, it’s something you need to practice.”

What began as a group trip to the family winery has developed into the first KLU limited edition white wine, which is now on the market for everyone to enjoy, even if you couldn’t make it to Weingut Kampf that September. The KLU Vintage 2014 is a cuvee, a combination of several grape varieties to achieve a well-rounded flavor, including Müller Thurgau and Weißer Burgunder (Pinot Blanc). Made with love, and with less emphasis on profit margins, the project was recently finalized with the commission of modern label designs for the wine bottles.

Now that the KLU Vintage 2014 is available, Sabine is thinking ahead to plan the next possible KLU wine. Three years on however, much of the KLU crew from 2014 are living in different places around the globe, so if she can’t get everyone back together for the 2018 harvest, Sabine hopes that everyone might at least be able to meet and share a drink of the KLU wine together, “We definitely deserve some of the bottles as well.”