At a presentation of Austrian wines in 2014 at Schloss Kleßheim in Salzburg, four extraordinary personalities met – and were immediately well acquainted as if they had known each other for a long time: vintners Toni and Thomas Rothschädl, father and son, who presented a small selection of their wines from South Styria, and the couple Christine Büchl and Martin Oertel, both with an eye for the extraordinary, who were initially only interested customers. All four are united by a deep spiritual kinship, a special mental prowess and creativity. This marked the origin of the SIGNUM BLANC wine brand.

Christine and Martin – she a psychotherapist, he a corporate restructurer – were amazed. They had not expected such sophistication here. They had never heard of the Rothschädl winery, even though they had been searching for special white wines in South Styria for years.
All four are united by a deep spiritual kinship, a special mental prowess and creativity.
Toni and Thomas, as winemakers, succeed in producing white wines of unusual expressiveness.
As a psychotherapist, Christine dedicates her mental strength to couples with an unfulfilled desire to have children and helps to create new life. Martin, ‘the visionary’, as Thomas Rothschädl says, professionally steers companies that experience difficulties back on the road to success.
During their ensuing visits to South Styria, Christine and Martin came across a real treasure in the depths of the wine cellar of the Rothschädl winery. Ripe, storable yet fruity wines with a nuanced variety of aromas, the result of creative, soulful work by Toni and Thomas. A special friendship developed between the four of them.
In the summer of 2018, Christine and Martin acquired a small abandoned vineyard on a sun-drenched hillside on the Leutschacher Schlossberg.
This was the origin of the SIGNUM BLANC wine brand. The noble wines, however, only come from the old vines on the Kreuzberg, a stony elevation, the highest point of the South Styrian heartland. Schlossberg 46, where the company is based, exhibits perfect prerequisites, but will need years of development to produce wine of great quality.

The founders

The winemaker:

Thomas Rothschädl – 5th generation wine artist and winemaker

Thomas Rothschädl drank his first tiny sip of wine at the age of six at his father’s vineyard. Thomas has winemaking DNA in his blood. Even as a child he sniffed out aromas, helped with the grape harvest on the steep slopes and worked in the wine cellar. At the age of 14, he attended the Silberberg school of Viticulture in South Styria and trained as a viticulturist and cellar master in Graz. At the age of 18, he won gold for his Sauvignon Klassik at the Young Winemaker Competition. Today, Thomas has made a name for himself as a 5th generation lead winemaker and ‘wine whisperer‘. With the motto “Quality in harmony with nature” he won several gold medals and awards. He sees the SIGNUM premium white wines as the completion of his work of art. The goal: to press the perfect wine.

His philosophy: “Winemaking is creation. I afford every developmental phase of the vinecon and every wine the time it needs. Creating high-quality wines demands leisure. I do not follow trends. I follow my intuition. Every wine starts as a vision in my head. When I think of the harvest, I smell and taste the wine that will evolve. I taste it on my tongue and on my palate.”

The senior winemaker:

Toni Rothschädl – 4th generation winemaker

At the age of 16, after the early death of his father, Toni Rothschädl took over the family business founded in 1880, while he was studying at the Silberberg School of Viticulture. The love of wine and nature and the knowhow have been passed down from generation to generation. Toni Rothschädl relied on the right grape varieties such as Sauvignon Blanc and Burgundy and dispensed with chemical fertilization – long before ‘organic’ was trendy. He plants vetches and phacelia as basic fertilizers, which naturally supply the soil with nitrogen, and mows only every second alley between the vines so that hedgehogs and rabbits, bees and bumblebees find a habitat in the grass. Weeds in the vineyards are removed purely mechanically with specially built machines.

His philosophy: ‘For me, farming as nature intended means responding to the soil and the plants – and talking to the vines. We make without glyphosate and insecticides and only use copper-free plant protection. We use beneficial insects against pests. Predatory mites, for example, love to eat aphids. And the press residues, such as wine wood and leaves, are composted and used as natural fertilizer on the vineyard.’

The communications expert:

Christine Büchl – Psychotherapist and wine connoisseur

Based on her many years of experience as a psychotherapist, fertility coach and communications trainer, Christine Büchl knows how important personal exchange between people is. In her private life she reads “Wine Enthusiast Magazine, Wine spectator, Decanter Magazine, Wine Advocate, Gault&Millau and Guide Michelin as attentively as others read the stock market news, she knows exactly what a uniting role a good drop of wine can play. When the Augsburg local , who worked a lot in Graz, met the Rothschädl family at a wine fair in 2014, soulmates met. Together they developed the idea of something extraordinary, SIGNUM wines. And that’s not all: Christine will soon be moving from Germany to South Styria, where she will be responsible for SIGNUM’s corporate image and act as the liaison between customers and business partners.

Her philosophy: ‘Conviviality and good food combined with excellent wine have always played a big role in my life. I plan entire vacations around discovering new restaurants and wineries. Wine is communication. Wine creates connection. That’s why wine, like a guest, is always present at a nice dinner in nice company. My favourite? Sauvignon Blanc.’

The Visionary:

Martin Oertel – expert in earth science and corporate restructurer

As an expert in restructuring medium-sized companies, Martin Oertel knows exactly which businesses are worthwhile investments and which are not. As a mining engineer, he knows about the nature of soils and their potential. The Rothschädl winery, his ‘hidden champion’, ticked both boxes. In November 2019, Martin discovered a black glittering chunk of stone during an excavation in the SIGNUM vineyards and had the rock sample analyzed at the Technical University in Aachen. The result: black tourmaline, a gemstone harder than glass.

His philosophy:

‘I prefer quality over quantity. Like small wineries, where the vintner himself works the vineyard and controls all processes. And I like pleasure with class. Above all balanced, full-bodied wines with a nice maturity. The black tourmaline makes SIGNUM wine unique because the minerals in the soil are taken up by the vine roots and consequently the grapes. The aromas are more condensed, more concentrated, resulting in a very intriguing wine. Precious stone, precious wine!’

Gerhard Retter – Maître and Sommelier

While the four SIGNUM BLANC founders were planning the launch of the company, they came across Gerhard Retter. The top Austrian sommelier, who lives in Munich, professionally tasted and described the SIGNUM BLANC wines.


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