Born in Bremen, north of Germany, Eva Fricke graduated with a degree in engineering. Her parents are doctors, and she has no family connection to viticulture. However, more than 20 years ago the Bremen native found her home in the Rheingau and embarked on an impressive path that eventually led to her own start-up winery in 2011.
Today Eva Fricke runs a 17-hectare domaine with a tasting room in Eltville. Among her customers are international award-winning chefs and luxury hotels such as Fontenay in Hamburg, Leroy and Clove Club London, the Park Hyatt in Beijing, and so on.
© Eva Fricke
Reviews of her wines have also been enthusiastic: In 2013, the Domaine Eva Fricke was voted “Newcomer of the Year” by gourmet magazine Falstaff. The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung awarded Eva Fricke the 2015 title of “Winemaker Rising Star of the Year”, while Stuart Pigott chose her as “Riesling Heroine 2016”. In 2020 the Domaine Eva Fricke achieved a triple accolade when both Robert Parker and James Suckling awarded 100 points for the 2019 Lorcher Krone TBA, and the 2019 Lorcher Krone dry also received the critics’ top rating of 100 points from James Suckling.
Not only was this the first time in the history of the Rheingau that a wine had been awarded 100 Parker points, but Eva Fricke is also the first female winemaker in Germany to achieve this highest score. Remarkable is that the awarded wines came from a nearly forgotten vineyard site in the very north of the region: the Lorcher Krone, Eva’s first-ever vineyard.
Because of her outstanding achievements in winemaking, Eva was awarded WWS 50 of WINWSA 2022.
Through an interview with WINWSA, Eva shares her experiences in the wine sector, and her vision of sustainable development.
ML: How many years have you been in the wine & spirits business?
EF: 26 years
ML: What makes you devote yourself to the wine and spirits sector?
EF: The work with and in nature is the most important thing for me.
Food and wine are an expression of culture and society to me, as that they are part of historical heritage, which we live, maintain, and hand over to the next generations. The profession allows people from all cultural and professional backgrounds to gather and share business networks from many different fields, philosophies, and visions.
Further, I understand our profession as a wine producer also in a way to develop agriculture into more sustainable ways. To adapt to climate change and deal with some of the most important questions concerning the future of agriculture, alimentation and a healthy way of living, while protecting mother earth.
© Domaine Eva Fricke
ML: What are the main transformations & changes in the industry you have experienced so far?
EF: For us it was certainly the change to organic farming 2011 with certification (since 2016), and now the implementation of biodynamics. With that for many years we were more an exception and not too commercial from the regular opinion in the trade.
But, the industry has undergone major and fast changes in the past 6 years where customers claim more transparency on making and growing, and claim more organic and sustainable practices. Corona was a catalyst for this and made this growth and development even faster. – its happening is important for all.
ML: What do you enjoy most in your career? The biggest challenge you have encountered as a woman in the industry. What drives you to keep going?
EF: Developing sustainable viticulture. Winemaking during harvest and time of blending. That are moments of truth where you see the fruits and achievements or failure of your annual work.
We have wonderful customers and business partners. I enjoy that customers are very grateful and respectful of our chosen and very tough path, which was a start up from scratch without anything 18 years ago. They also are supportive for our sustainable approach and are and have always been supportive of further developing our work.
The biggest challenge in the industry as a woman is certainly a male dictation of “Does and Don’ts” when I was younger. I must say however since many years I also encounter highest respect by men for my work and business achievements. Create a healthier agriculture and awareness for historical heritage. Have a share in a more sustainable developed viticulture and winemaking, being a light tower for other producers and domains, and hopefully have had a tiny share in the improvement of our world the day I leave it behind for future generations.
© Markus Bassler
ML: What are the main distinguishing merits or qualities in women attributing to career success?
EF: More open to sustainable, and holistic approaches.
Decentralized company leadership.
Openness, and a will to constantly improve and develop.
Women are often harder to fight through difficult times and have a higher resilience.
ML: Any advice to your peers?
EF: Never stop asking questions, even the unpleasant ones.
Always dream and have a vision. And regularly do reality checks on them.
Question yourselves and your achievements and always ask what is my next step in growing?
We live in a time of self-marketing; it gets even more important to show who you are. Therefore, spend time with yourself and detract regularly from social media and all the things society wants you to do, deliver and show up for. Use the regular time with yourself alone to question: who am I and what is the idea, project, or quality that wants to show through me? How can I best contribute to the world? Important to do it regularly even if only for 5 min.
© Markus Bassler
ML: What is so special about Rheingau that you chose to make wines there?
EF: The diversity of geology, terroirs and microclimates
It’s the Riesling birthplace.
ML: Will you continue to make single-vineyard wines in the future? Why do you adopt such winemaking approach?
EF: Yes. This way we can feature best the wonderful of Rheingau terroir.
© Markus Bassler
ML: What kind of innovations in your winemaking approach? And which winemaking aspects reflect tradition?
EF: All our process is very traditional the growing and the making.
ML: Sustainability is on everybody’s lips now, can you share with us what your winery is doing to be more sustainable?
EF: Organic and biodynamic viticulture.
Enforcing cover crops and natural green covers in and around our vineyards.
Building composts and soil mass.
Replacing more and more regular organic treatments by teas and plant based treatments.
Light glass for majority of wine bottles.
Centralized allocation and shipment process to avoid extra shipment way of our wines (for example sell from Eltville to a retailer in Hamburg, who then sends the wine to Munich…) Reduced retail business to a minimum.
Green energy in part of our domain.
Sustainability in HR practices, such as fair work contracts and salaries. Healthy work environment. Forbid “black work” without contracts.
© Markus Bassler
ML: What are the latest trends in Germany’s wine industry that are worthy to share?
EF: Lightness in wines with lower alcohol.
Zero alcohol products
ML: Who will you recommend to us for interview as the next WWS figure?
EF: Katharina Prüm, JJ Prüm
Dörthe Näkel, Mayer_Näkel
Tomoko Kuriyama, Chantereves
Amelie Berthaut, Burgundy
© Markus Bassler
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