Since the Dr. Loosen estate on the Mosel River has been in his family for over 200 years, you’d think it only natural for Ernst to take up the family legacy as a profession. The truth is, though, that as a youngster Ernst was more fascinated by the numerous Roman ruins in the area than by the family vineyards. So he went off to college to study archaeology.

In the mid-1980s, however, Ernst was faced with a decision. His father was ready to turn the estate over to the next generation and none of his brothers or sisters were old enough or interested enough to take it on. Happily, as it turns out, Ernst found his true calling among the broken slate of his family’s vineyards rather than the hewn stones of an old Roman ruin.

Ernst dove into winemaking with his customary fervor. He completed studies at Germany’s renowned winemaking school in Geisenheim and then launched into a self directed review of the great wines of the world. He traveled to Austria, to Burgundy and Alsace, even to California. He went wherever great wine was being made, seeking out the best winemakers to find out what they had in common.

What he discovered was that great winemakers all share a dedication to producing intense, concentrated wines that boldly proclaim their heritage. They also have a worldly outlook that allows them to maintain respect for tradition while tempering it with reason. This gives them the freedom to acknowledge that not all traditions deserve to be doggedly observed, and allows judicious use of modern winemaking techniques when it will improve quality.

It is this global market view to which Ernst heartily ascribes. It is a philosophy that balances the old with the new. It is a way of thinking that has allowed him to move beyond the easy and familiar, the tried and not necessarily so true, to make wines that stand out as truly distinctive and world-class.

Since Ernst took over, Dr. Loosen wines have received countless awards and glowing reviews in the wine press. The estate has become a member of the prestigious VDP, Germany’s association of top-rated wine estates, and has been named one of the 10 best estates in Germany by nearly every wine publication worldwide. Ernst was named Germany’s Winemaker of the Year in the 2001 edition of Gault Millau’s Weinguide Deutschland and Decanter magazine’s Man of the Year in 2005. He was also the International WINE Challenge’s White Winemaker of the Year in 2005.

When Ernst took over Villa Wolf in 1996, he applied the same philosophy and methods that made Dr. Loosen wines so successful. Under his stewardship, Villa Wolf has made a dramatic turnaround in the estate’s quality and reputation.