How much wine does a good story need? Little, says experience. What matters to me is the immediate sensation. The color impression in the glass, the first aromas on the nose and then, and this is crucial for me, the texture, balance and length on the palate. When the brain, helpless as if in a trance, searches for words to capture the amazement, then the time has come. The material for a good story. Such a moment was delivered to me on a cold December evening two years ago at the Munich wine bar Grapes by a Riesling from the Pfalz. Now, we want to uncover the story of this wine.

Max Kaindl, 19. May 2024
Reading time about 8 minutes

J.J. Berizzi – the hidden champion from the Palatinate

The wine in question hails from Edenkoben, a sleepy little town located on the German Wine Route in the Southern Palatinate. Here, there’s none of the glitz and glamour found just 20 km north in the heart of the Palatinate, Deidesheim. The renowned names of the world-famous Palatinate vineyards, such as Forster Pechstein or Birkweiler Kastanienbusch, are nowhere to be seen. Instead, you’ll find narrow alleys, single-lane streets, and rows of colorful sandstone houses haphazardly lined up. No one would expect to find a winery here that aims to be among Germany’s top establishments. And yet, this is precisely where I made my discovery In the tranquil town of Edenkoben.


The story revolves around the young winery J.J. Berizzi. In 2019, Janina and Julius Berizzi took over the Graeber winery and renamed it after themselves. The history traced back to 1881. For over four generations, the winery had been run by the previous family. But as an end approached and a successor was sought, Janina and Julius took the plunge, a bold decision.

Despite the German wine market being hungry and eager to buy at the time, with the reputation and demand for top-quality German wines at an all-time high, the winery they took over was not known for wines of the highest quality. Its portfolio of vineyards consisted mainly of simpler locations with rich soil structures. Not exactly the best conditions.

However, Janina and Julius eagerly set to work. And there was plenty of work to be done. Within just a year of starting, they added seven more hectares in Frankenweiler, a location characterized by a massive limestone plateau, to their portfolio of vineyards. Unfazed, focused, ambitious, but above all, warm-hearted. That’s how I’ve come to know them since my first visit in January 2023. They complement each other perfectly in their daily work.

Julius, ein echter Pfälzer Jung, ist den klassischen Ausbildungsweg des Winzers gegangen. Julius, a true Palatine native, followed the classic path of winemaker apprenticeship. He honed his skills at esteemed VDP estates such as Christmann and Wittmann, with additional experience gained abroad. His domain is the vineyard and cellar. Janina, on the other hand, was completely unfamiliar with the wine trade and the Palatinate until she met Julius. Authentic and uncomplicated, she is much more than the hostess at the winery. She is a businesswoman and the contact person for marketing, sales, and administration. The true boss of the winery.


“With dedication and a clearly defined focus, imparting their own signature to wines” – that was the long-cherished desire of the duo. et, even the most talented winemaker cannot work miracles without the right vineyard potential. The vineyard is always more crucial than the winemaker. Its potential sets the quality framework within which the winemaker can operate. This understanding is clear to Julius as well. Therefore, he has assembled a portfolio of vineyards in two locations that allows him to bring out his personal signature while also offering the potential for the finest quality wines.


In Edenkoben, the home of the winery, the soils are predominantly deep loess-loam with some sandstone. In the Mühlberg site, the Berizzi’s monopole vineyard, a significant proportion of sandstone is found in the subsoil. The rock from the Triassic period forms the massif of the Palatinate Forest and is found in many of the best locations along the Haardt.
During the Triassic period, an extremely hot and dry climate prevailed; even the polar regions were frost-free. In the Germanic Basin that runs through Central Europe, sand and clay were deposited in numerous rivers and shallow inland lakes. The mighty sand dunes and dried-up river mud then solidified over millions of years into the mostly red-colored sandstone. This type of soil demands a lot from the vines. It does not retain water well and is also nutrient-poor, with nutrients being easily washed out. However, one advantage is good aeration and therefore good soil warmth, which in turn promotes ripening.

I associate wines from sandstone with bright fruits, often a salty and hard mouthfeel, and a straightforward, distinctive acidic structure. Furthermore, for me, they are generally more accessible earlier than wines from limestone. This holds true for the Berizzi wines as well. The Rieslings from Mühlberg have consistently shown themselves to be more approachable to me in all tastings compared to those from Käfernberg.


Käfernberg? Who or what on earth is Käfernberg? This question crossed my mind when I first saw the name on Berizzi’s label. The name takes us toFrankenweiler. The vineyards, which had already been converted to organic viticulture upon the Berizzis’ takeover, offer particularly limestone-rich soils and cool hillside locations, protected from strong winds by the nearby Palatinate Forest. The limestone-rich locations are perfect for Riesling, Chardonnay, and even Sauvignon Blanc, from which Julius, in my opinion, produces one of the best representatives of this grape variety in Germany.
Käfernberg is a site that is not yet well-known, but Julius sees great potential in it. To reassure oneself, one should definitely try his Käfernberg Riesling. Once embraced by its profound, barren, salty structure, dancing acidity, and soft melt, one will not easily forget this wine. I certainly won’t.

Sidenote:A closer look and taste are essential if you want to understand the limestone phenomenon in the Palatinate. Looking closely because limestone here is not all the same, and tasting because it is more subtle in the wine and requires time and air. For those who want to learn more about the effects of limestone soils on wine, I recommend my article “The influence of limestone soils on wine”.

Let’s return to the Berizzis. Julius thinks about wine in the vineyard. Through focused and dedicated work in the vineyard and minimal intervention in the cellar, he aims to create natural interpreters of their terroir. He loves his craft. pH values and taste are more important to him than high Oechsle values. Honest, without frills, but with a lot of sensitivity. You can sense this, especially when you stand with Julius in his vineyards. He passionately talks endlessly about his vines, his soils, and his wine philosophy.

From the beginning, Janina and Julius were clear that they wanted to manage their winery consistently organically. With the 2023 vintage, all their vineyards are now certified.


Explaining the magic within Berizzi’s cellar is straightforward. ndividual and detailed vinification of each parcel, stainless steel, small oak barrels (barriques, tonneaux) as well as larger casks made of Palatinate oak, extended lees aging (up to 18 months), no pre-clarification of the wines, and the abandonment of all dogmas are the apt catchwords. Everything and nothing is permitted. While this may sound contradictory, it isn’t. At least not at J.J. Berizzi. Because this is precisely how Berizzi wines are crafted: artisanal, expressive, without frills, and with plenty of character.


But how do the wines, whose origin and production I have described in such detail, actually taste? In this article, I won’t provide detailed wine descriptions for individual wines, but I still want to convey an impression of what you can expect from a Berizzi wine in your glass. I vividly remember my first extensive tasting with Janina and Julius in January 2023. Curiosity quickly turned into amazement, and then into enthusiasm as the wines flowed into my glass one by one. These were individual wines that spoke of the winemaker’s finesse and impressed me with an aroma and texture that I had not experienced before.

The estate wines always present themselves as juicy, fruity, balanced, and easy to drink. With the village wines, you can already detect hints of their origin. They are more restrained in their fruitiness, deep, and hint at a touch of spice. By the way, I call it the Berizzi spice because it’s so distinctive that I can’t find a suitable comparison to describe it. The single vineyard wines then represent the pinnacle of the pyramid. Salty texture, dancing acidity, and lots of Berizzi spice paired with an embracing warmth yet not overwhelmingly broad richness. Whether it’s Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, or Riesling, Julius is a master of all these grape varieties. This is particularly evident in his single vineyard wines. Not to forget the Pinot Noir. The estate wine is a sure bet. Many VDP estates have to step up their game.

Final Thoughts

Rarely has a wine collection convinced me as much with its consistency and individuality, finesse, and precision as that of Janina and Julius Berizzi. And this applies to both the two past vintages, 2021 (fresh, cool, vibrant) and 2022 (charming, fruity, spicy), as well as the currently impending 2023s. During my last visit in early May, I had the opportunity to taste barrel samples and freshly filled blends of the new vintage with Julius and was consistently impressed. Often, young wineries need several vintages to find their own signature style, but with Janina and Julius, it’s already there. What an impressive start! And all this with only four vintages under their belt.

With their winery, Janina and Julius Berizzi have created a place of joy with their two children. Stay. Tell stories. Enjoy. All of this awaits visitors to their estate. where hospitality flows effortlessly and warmly. This portrayal resonates with few winemaker families as perfectly as it does with the Berizzi family.

Pictures: © The Art of Riesling – Maximilian Kaindl

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