The qualified agriculturist Uli Ernst loves challenges. His latest idea: winegrowing in the Fünfseenland. For the SeeMagazin author Alissa Selge visited him in Utting at the Ammersee.

The trained farmer Uli Ernst will certainly not get bored so quickly: Together with his wife Corinne he runs an organic farm, an adventure labyrinth, a design high ropes course and a young cattle breeding farm. They also look after their two children, sell organic eggs from mobile chicken coops, flowers and organic sunflower oil. Uli Ernst also teaches business training for farmers in German-speaking countries and in Africa. There he also volunteers to look after unemployed and landless agricultural students who are being trained as beekeepers. In his spare time he attends sculpture camps in Italy, does gymnastics and holds two other honorary posts. Have we forgotten anything? Yes, you could say that Uli Ernst loves versatility.

Now he adds another crazy passion: winegrowing.

An excerpt from the interview:

Growing wine at the Ammersee – that is quite unusual. How did it happen?

For me, wine is a very exclusive product, with a lot of passion and tradition behind it. I have always been fascinated by the devotion of many of my winemaking colleagues. And then there is a piece of family history: We can look back on over 400 years of agricultural family tradition on the western shore of Lake Ammersee. And it is probably exactly here that the Romans cultivated wine 2000 years ago. Moreover, my wife comes from a family that also grew wine. So I had this dream for a long time. But it was not so easy to get it started here at the Ammersee.

What challenges did you have to deal with?

First of all: bureaucracy! Until now, winegrowing was only allowed in traditional wine-growing regions such as the Pfalz, Rheinhessen or Franken. Only a few years ago EU law was loosened and we were able to submit an application for a wine-growing right in 2015. For the approval of the grape we had chosen, the state approval authority had long refused to grant us a permit. Then, of course, there are the whims of nature that challenge us. Last year there was so much hail that the damage to the vines set us back a year. We would also like to grow the wine organically, without synthetic pesticides. That's why we have to be particularly careful to ensure that the vines remain resistant and healthy.

  • Winemaker Uli Ernst kneels on meadow in his wine growing area at Lake Ammersee

"We hope to harvest the first grapes in October 2021. If everything goes well, the result is a fresh, fruity white wine."

Uli Ernst

What sort has it turned out to be?

A Sauvignac – this is a hybrid of a Sauvignon Blanc, a Pinot Blanc, and a wild variety, which fortunately is very fungus-resistant. If everything goes well, the result is a fresh, fruity white wine.

What are the steps until we can hold a finished bottle of wine in our hands?

In 2018 we planted several thousand vines on 9000 square meters. At the moment we are still in the process of growing the main trunks of the vines into healthy and strong plants. This includes pruning back every single plant and weeding the rootstock. Without pesticides, with a pickaxe and by hand. We hope to harvest the first grapes in October 2021.

You can read the whole interview in the latest issue of the SeeMagazin (only in German).


Cover SeeMagazin 2020
Read the whole story here SeeMagazin 2020

We love the Five Lakes Region in the south of Bavaria. That is why we collect the uniqueness of the region in beautiful pictures and stories once a year in our SeeMagazin. We meet interesting people who are enthusiastic and make their passion their profession. The motto of the 2020 issue: "People, missions, masterpieces" – because it is not only the nature, but also the people, who make the Fünfseenland special.