Bernhard Huber, one of Germany’s most celebrated producers of Pinot Noir, or Spätburgunder as it’s known regionally, passed away on Wednesday, June 11, following a two-year battle against cancer. He was 55 years old.
For generations, Huber’s family grew grapes in Baden, Germany, for sale to local winemaking cooperatives. In 1987, Huber and his wife, Barbara, took over the family estate and ceased sales to cooperatives in order to establish his namesake winery.
Inspired by the 13th-century Cistercian monks who first planted Pinot Noir in the commune of Malterdingen where his family estate is located, Huber was unwavering in his determination to produce world-class Pinot Noir in Germany.
Huber’s wines developed a cult following domestically, and were exported worldwide at increasingly premium prices. In recent vintages, Huber’s single-vineyard Erste Lage Grosses Gewächs Spätburgunders have been priced between $110 and $181, surpassing the prices of many grand cru Burgundy wines.
“Bernhard Huber was a pioneer and an idol for German Pinot Noir production,” said Monika Reule, of the German Wine Institute. “His passion was to demonstrate that Pinot Noir from Germany can compete with those from all other highly esteemed Pinot Noir provenances in the world, and he has impressively shown that they can.”
Indeed, the success of his wines contributed greatly to the surging popularity of German Pinot Noir. From 1980 to 2012, total plantings of Pinot Noir in Germany increased more than 200%.
“Bernhard Huber achieved the highest decorations for his wines…nevertheless, he was always a gentle person, willing to share his rich knowledge with his colleagues. Germany has lost one of its best winemakers too early,” said Reule.
Bernhard is survived by his wife, son Julian, daughter Alina and son-in-law Martin Koch. Julian Huber, 24, has worked alongside his father for numerous years and will be continuing the winery operations.