Viticulturist Georges Schiltz
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Transforming Experiences "Young and wild" winemaker Georges Schiltz

4 minutes

“Fru” at heart

Grapevines along the Sûre and Moselle produce both fine wine and delightful table wine. Young viticulturist Georges Schiltz set up his own experimental winery on land cultivated for generations.

Georges Schiltz seems eccentric at first. Back when he was a geography student, he had a wacky idea: growing grapevines. He does not come from a family of winemakers and still decided to set up shop and do his own thing in an area farmed by viticulturists since Roman times.

They’re referred to as “young and wild”. The new generation of winemakers marked by a desire to experiment with new cultivation methods and confer with international colleagues. They also value bottle and label design because, well, they’re part of the charm!

It’s a generation that cares deeply about making their job and life in general sustainable. For them, sustainability is not just a tagline.

At 32, Georges Schiltz is on of the “young and wild” ones. Originally, he studied geography with the goal of working in development aid. But early on, his grandfather introduced him to the art of distillation. Georges was fascinated by the idea of extracting flavour from the orchards surrounding his parents’ farm house. And so, a hobby turned into more. Still a student, he learned how to produce fruit spirits professionally. He began selling schnapps and liquor under the Tudorsgeeschter label. Rosport residents are often referred to as “Tudor’s ghosts”, after Henri Tudor who lived in Rosport and developed the first lead-acid battery.

The vineyards awaken Georges’ curiosity. He wants to coax flavour out of these fruits too. A pretty ambitious project considering he doesn’t come from a wine-growing family and doesn’t even have a vineyard!

“On a study trip in Bolivia it hit me. Confronted with the loss of rainforest on one hand and the modest homes of the local population on the other, I realised that I wanted to help preserve the cultural landscape of my home country,” says Georges. “We are so coddled in Europe. What’s the worst that could happen? I fail. That’s not so bad.” Doing something that gives life a deeper meaning and isn’t just about earning a living must be rewarding. His mind was made up.

The genie must go in the bottle

In addition to studying geography and producing spirits, Georges enrols at Geisenheim University to study viticulture and oenology. That same year, a coincidence leads him to lease his first vineyard. The “Clos de la joie” is the only vineyard in Luxembourg enclosed by dry stone wall. Here, he tries out everything he learns in school. It’s the beginning of his “learning by doing” journey that continues to this day. Unlike other winemakers, Georges is not haunted by ghosts of viticulturists past that criticize his every move. He is free to make mistakes and learn from his experiences.

“The biodiversity of the orchards, vineyards and dry stone walls. This is small-scale, sustainable agriculture that harnesses the power of biodiversity instead of destroying it. Creating alternatives to steamrolling corporations is possible from the comfort of your own home. You don’t necessarily need to go out into the world. For instance, when I buy my neighbours’ fruit to make spirits, I automatically nudge them into maintaining their orchards.

Viticulturist Georges Schiltz
© Pancake!

I also don’t fight weeds growing in the vineyard, for example. They’re not hurting anyone. They even push the vines to grow deeper roots to find water. When the vineyard’s ecosystem is balanced, including the dry stone wall and its inhabitants, pests have a harder time and don’t take over.” In person, Georges is methodical, not wild at all. He knows what he’s doing and sticks to a longterm plan.

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“Fru” is what life is all about

“I’m cooking for my vineyard crew.” This is our second meeting and Georges grins as he opens the door to his old farm. “We have one more round of grape picking to do this year. We’re doing Palmberg tomorrow.”

Palmberg has been an active vineyard since 1954. Today, Georges tends the grapevines. Usually, new vines are planted after 30 years in order to ensure sufficient crops. “But Palmberg is not about profit. It doesn’t yield much. I’m fascinated by these old vines. It’s about heritage and preserving genetic information and history. This place has probably been a vineyard since Roman times.” Preserving culture, regaling locals and tourists with regional stories and history: he seems to enjoy it all.

“Fru”, his vineyard’s label, reflects his holistic approach. It means joy and conveys the pleasure found in relishing good food, nature and life. “Fru” also refers to the fruit that started this whole thing: the grape with its dazzling character. As a wink to Ancient Romans, “fru” also means “savour” in Latin. Joy, fruit, savour - that’s what life is all about!

Viticulturist Georges Schiltz
© Pancake!

Welcome explorers!

Fru Vineyard welcomes visitors with open arms. Give them a head’s up before your visit.

Jeff Konsbruck
© Melanie Maps

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