Not generally accessible
+49 6581 2456
Officially ‘Weingut Forstmeister Geltz-Zilliken’ but better known simply as ‘Zilliken’, this is one of the most famous and regarded wineries in Germany. It is run by Hans-Joachim ‘Hanno’ Zilliken with his wife Ruth, daughter Dorothy and her husband, representing the family’s 10th and 11th generations of winemakers. When you meet the family their passion for winemaking and their family’s heritage is overwhelming. They are very much hands-on, running the estate with just one full-time and two part-time workers.
The word ‘Forstmeister’ in the company’s name translates as ‘forrest master’ and is a reference to Hanno's grandfather, Ferdinand Geltz (1851-1925), who was a forester for the King of Prussia in the late 1800s/early 1900s. He established the winery in the 1890s when he planted vines on one of the steepest hillsides in Germany, overlooking the Saar River and the town of Saarburger in the valley below. Ferdinand Geltz was also one of the first founders of the VDP growers’ group, the quality guarantee still recognised today..
When Ferdinand Geltz died in 1925 his vineyards were split between his two daughters Antoinette and Ella and it is from Ella’s vineyard’s that today’s Zilliken estate evolved with her daughter Marianne marrying Fritz Zilliken in 1947.
Originally located on the other side of the Saar River, the family’s former castle-like cellar and winery were destroyed during heavy bombing in Christmnas 1944 but in 1950, Fritz and Marianne bought the family’s present cellars, just outside Saarburger. The family built the house that sits above the cellars in the 1960s, hence the modern building sat atop ancient cave-like cellars. Fritz and Marianne’s son, Hans-Joachim ‘Hanno’ Zilliken now heads this family winery.