SIGNUM BLANC  –How it started

At a presentation of Austrian wines in 2014 at Schloss Kleßheim in Salzburg, four extraordinary personalities met – and were immediately as familiar as if they had known each other for a long time: winemakers Toni and Thomas Rothschädl, father and son, who presented a small selection of their wines from southern 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 bond, a special mental strength and creativity. That was the birth of the SIGNUM BLANC wine brand.

The winemaker:

Thomas Rothschädl – 5th generation wine artist and winemaker

Thomas Rothschädl drank his first tiny sip of wine at the age of six on his father’s vineyard. Thomas, too, had the 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 viticultural college in southern Styria and trained as a winemaker 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 senior 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 a work of art.

The goal: to press the perfect wine.

“Winemaking is creation. Each phase of development of the vine and each wine get with me the time it needs. Creating high-quality wines requires leisure. I do not follow trends. I follow my intuition. I have the wine first as a vision in my head. When I think of the harvest, I smell and taste the wine that will later exist. I have 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, which had already been founded in 1880, while he was still studying at the Silberberg School of Viticulture. In the process, the love of wine, nature and knowledge were 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 other alley between the vines so that hedgehogs and rabbits, bees and bumblebees find a habitat in the meadows. Weeds in the vineyards are removed purely mechanically with purpose-built machines.

“For me, farming close to nature means responding to the soil and the plants – and talking to the vines. We do not use glyphosate and insecticides and only use copper-free crop protection. We use beneficial insects against pests. Predatory mites, for example, eat aphids. And the press residues from pressing, such as vine wood and leaves, are composted and used as natural fertilizer in the vineyard.”

The communication expert:

Christine Büchl – psychotherapist and wine connoisseur

Based on her many years of experience as a psychotherapist, fertility-coach and communication trainer, Christine Büchl knows how important personal exchange between people is. In her private life, she reads “Falstaff,” “Feinschmecker,” “Gault&Millau” and “Guide Michelin” as attentively as she does other stock market news, she knows exactly what a unifying role a good drop of wine can play. When the Augsburg native, who had a lot of work to do in Graz, met the Rothschädl family at a wine fair in 2014, soulmates met. Together they developed the idea for something extraordinary, SIGNUM wines. Not only that: Christine will soon be moving from Germany to southern Styria, from where she will be responsible for SIGNUM’s corporate image and will be the link between customers and business partners.

” Socializing and good food combined with excellent wines 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, like a guest, it’s always with me at a nice dinner in nice company. My favorite? Sauvignon Blanc.”

The visionary:

Martin Oertel – land expert and corporate restructurer

As a restructuring expert of medium-sized companies, Martin Oertel knows exactly which operations are a worthwhile investment and which are not. As a graduate mining engineer, he knows about the nature of soils and their potential. At the Rothschädl winery, his “hidden champion,” both fit. In November 2019, he discovered a black glittering chunk of stone in the soil during an excavation and had the rock sample analyzed at the Technical University in Aachen. The result: black tourmaline, a gemstone harder than glass.

“I like quality over quantity. Like small wineries, where the winemaker himself works the vineyard and controls all the processes. And I like enjoyment with class. As in balanced, full-bodied wines with a beautiful maturity. The black tourmaline gemstone makes the SIGNUM wine unique because the minerals of the soil reach the grapes via the vine roots. The aromas are more condensed, more concentrated, which results in a very characterful wine.”

Gerhard Retter – Maître and Sommelier

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

Wine that unites

When everything falls into place . . .

All four are united by a deep spiritual connection, a special mental strength and creativity.

Toni and Thomas as winemakers achieve white wines of unusual expressiveness,

Christine, as a psychotherapist, 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 takes over the management of companies that have fallen into disarray and leads them back to new success.

During their next visits to southern Styria, the two encountered a true treasure in the depths of the Rothschädl winery’s wine cellar. Ripe, storable and yet fruity wines with a nuance variety of flavors, emerged in creative, soulful creation work of Toni and Thomas. A special friendship of the four developed.

In the summer of 2018, Christine and Martin acquired a small abandoned vineyard on the Leutschacher Schlossberg, with a sun-drenched hillside location.

That was the birth of the SIGNUM BLANC wine brand. The noble drops, however, come only from the old vines on the Kreuzberg, a stony hillside, the highest point of the southern Styrian heartland. Schlossberg 46 itself, where the company headquarters are located, also has the best conditions, but will need years of development to produce wines of great quality.