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THE FOUNDATIONS OF BURG SCHAUBECK

​Situated on a twisting, undercut bank on the River Bottwar, Burg Schaubeck dates back to at least 1272. Shielded from storms on the side facing the river, with the other side facing the mountain and set apart by a frontal ditch and a circular trench, the Burg (“Castle”) was originally very well-fortified, though few traces remain of this function today. During the High Middle Ages, Burg Schaubeck dominated the ancient highway known today as Alte Kleinbottwarer Straße, which runs along the wall of the garden and on towards Steinheim. There it joins up with Schaubecker Straße, a long-distance route that was formerly of vital importance because it linked the North-West of Germany with the South and the South East. This made it part of the network of early and prehistoric highways in Germany.

 

​The castle keep and two adjacent parallel wings were secured by trenches on three sides. The exterior is solid in construction, and the foundations of the old tower are clearly visible on the ground plan, as are the strong walls facing north, west and south. The interior is dominated by timber framing (16th century). The living areas were constructed mainly by the aristocratic Plieningen family (1480-1642). It is possible that the Burg once had a shield wall on the side facing the mountain, as remains of a massive defensive wall have been found in trenches to the South and the East. It is also clear from the illustration in the Kieser forest map that there was a drawbridge.

 

Around 1620 – there no longer being any point in maintaining its character as a stronghold in the light of advances in firearms – the Burg was converted into a Schloss (“mansion”, “chateau”). The stairwell in the courtyard became a focal point, and all the other alterations were adapted to match it. The wine cellar was established under the north wing, and the windows were installed in the style of architect and designer Heinrich Schickhardt. Between 1749 and 1765, in keeping with the prevalent artistic trend of the day, the north and west façades were painted in red and violet, with the right-angle quoins set in a diamond configuration. The decoration of the castle clearly reflects the architecture of the Renaissance era, and to some degree also the Baroque.

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THE FAMILY

 

Since the Burg’s first documented mention in 1272, it has been owned by various aristocratic families, including the von Plieningen family until 1645, and then the von Kniestedt family until 1853. At this point the Burg and the associated land passed to the barons of Brusselle. In 1914, when Sophie von Brusselle married and became Countess Adelmann, the Burg came into the possession of its present owners, with whom it has remained for five generations to date.

 

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1. Count Heinrich Adelmann, 1914 onwards

In Count Heinrich, Burg Schaubeck gained an expert forest manager who launched the estate’s wine-growing and farming activities. Heinrich was also a Chamberlain of Royal Württemberg and a member of the Centre Party in the Reichstag – not to mention being a composer, an art collector, an enthusiastic hunter and Carnival president.

 

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2. Count Raban Adelmann I, 1920 onwards

The first Count Raban Adelmann was a diplomat and a Doctor of Law, who kept the business on track through turbulent times. He was active in politics and was involved in the negotiations in Versailles concerning the occupation of the Rhineland, going on to become consul general in Katowice, Poland. He was widowed and childless when his brother Sigmund Maria, District President of Cologne, died in 1926. Without hesitation, he took over the care of the ten half-orphans, adopting his nephew Raban. Accordingly, after his death he was succeeded by:

 

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3. Count Raban Adelmann II, 1935 onwards

The new owner brought the wine-growing estate into the new age. His work as a diplomat took him to Prague, Brazil, Brussels and Paris; later, he would go on to serve as a member of the Bundestag in Bonn. In 1941 he found his ideal life partner, the daughter of the counsellor at the German Embassy in Rio. Combining considerable social skills with a combative approach when facing the local council, after 1945 the couple transformed the Burg – which had only narrowly escaped destruction during the Second World War – into a comfortable family residence. Its status as a storage location for relocated art treasures saved it from confiscation by the National Socialists in 1944 – otherwise American troops would have reduced the historic building to rubble and ashes at the end of the war. It was in fact targeted once by the soldiers, but luckily their shells landed far away in a field. Wine-growing practices were updated, with unpopular grape varieties being replaced by Pinot gris, Müller-Thurgau or Samtrot. Today, a total of 13 varieties are grown on 21 hectares of land. Modern methods were introduced everywhere, and horses and carts gave way to a spectacular Mercedes Unimog truck. However, all was not wine and roses: low revenue and crop failures were common during the period of reconstruction, and then came the heavy frost of 1956. Wine growing was, at that time, not something on which a strong business could be built. Up to the end of the 60s, farming was what ensured steady earnings: cereals, sugar beets, cows and pigs. Unlike most German wines at the time, all our wines were dry, leading “cold warrior” Alexei Kosygin, at a banquet in 1973, to propose a toast to “Brüsseler Spitze”, our late vintage 1971 Lemberger.

 

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4. Michael Graf Adelmann, 1978 onwards

A fully qualified lawyer like his father before him, Count Michael retrained at the Weinbauschule Weinsberg (Weinsberg Viticulture School). In 1981 he started maturing wines in the new barrique – even though at the time, the merest hint of wood was still considered bad form in Germany. And in 1989 he created the first cuvée – even though up to then, only pure varieties had been considered respectable. He also cut down the number of varieties grown, reduced the yield and introduced electronically controlled fermenting and whole-cluster pressing. In 1986, he and a few like-minded souls founded HADES, the Study Group for the New Oak Barrel, and in 1990 the German Barrique Forum. He remained a member of the presidium of the Verband Deutscher Prädikatsweingüter (VDP – Association of German High-Quality Wine Growing Estates) for a whole quarter-century, right up to 2011.

 

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5. Felix Graf Adelmann, 2012 onwards

 

New times bring fresh challenges: quality is vital, but so too is the balance sheet. Wine-growing estates are now structured companies with the classic departments, such as sales and marketing. The estate has, of course, remained in the family – and to ready himself for the wide-ranging tasks ahead, Count Felix Adelmann broke with tradition: instead of law, he studied business administration in London and Madrid, going on to gain experience as a business consultant. To acquire the expertise he would need for his work in the cellar and in the vineyards, he spent time at other noted estates, both inside Germany and elsewhere. In changing times, this thoroughly up-to-date wine enthusiast is determined to maintain and uphold the family tradition for today’s generation and onward, tirelessly flying the banner for quality and keeping faith with the motto, “Traditional – but never conventional”. A modern head – on classic Adelmann shoulders.

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