Landau Both winegrowing and oil production
are intrinsic to the region
For centuries, Klaus Rummel’s winemaking family has farmed the rolling hills around Landau, where Wintershall also recovers crude oil.
Rummel and his wife Susanne grow wine across 15 hectares of land in the Southern Palatinate. We accompanied winegrower Klaus Rummel during the grape harvesting.
© Thorsten Silz
In the night it rained. In the yard belonging to organic winegrower Klaus Rummel workers are waiting to begin the harvest. “We’ll wait another hour until the grapes and soil have dried out a bit more,” says Klaus Rummel. Tractors are trundling along the lanes around Landau. Large red mechanical harvesters are driving into the vineyards. His fellow winegrowers are getting underway: the grapes are ripe and, although the weather is capricious, the vintners now need to grasp every opportunity. Rummel however remains calm and, peering at his hands dyed blue from the grape picking, says: “We harvest by hand and I don’t want to go and now ruin the soil between the vine rows.”
For centuries, his family has farmed the rolling hills around Landau. Klaus Rummel and his wife Susanne grow wine on 15 hectares of land. Since 1987, the vintner has been committed to organic viticulture. He has eliminated the use of weed killers and he plants fungus-resistant grape varieties that have not been genetically modified. Initially ridiculed, the company has now successfully established itself on the market. And not just at the regional level. Queen Elizabeth was recently served a Rummel wine at a state banquet held in her honour at Schloss Bellevue.
Wearing gumboots and rubber gloves, Laura Välimäki from Finland is standing in the vineyard and, together with eight other wine pickers, is cutting one bunch after another with the dark blue “Blauer Portugieser” grapes. The 24-year-old from Helsinki is actually a cook. She has taken four weeks off work in order to take part in the grape harvest. “I would like to learn about everything – from the harvesting to the processing – so that I understand more about wine as a product,” says the young woman from Helsinki. The working day is hard, but with a friendly and collegial atmosphere. “In addition to preserving nature, training people forms the second pillar of sustainability for us,” says Klaus Rummel.
With a phone pressed to her ear, 75-year-old senior boss Helga Rummel stands next to her son in the vineyard. She is organising the deployment of the wine pickers and the joint lunch, which she has been doing for 60 years. This is exactly as long as Wintershall has been producing oil in Landau. “I can still well remember the beginnings of the oil production in the vineyards,” she says. As if to confirm this, the horsehead pump for the Landau 121 wellbore is nodding in the background. The vintners have long got used to the “nodding donkeys” in the vineyards. Wintershall still has 65 horsehead pumps standing between Portugieser and Burgundy grapes in the vineyards around Landau. To date, 4.5 million tonnes of crude oil have been recovered there.
“Incidentally, we’re also in the oil business,” laughs winemaker Klaus Rummel. He presses oil from the grape seeds. Rummel crosses the road to his experimental cultivation. He inspects the grapes, tastes them and goes back into the wine cellar. You have to constantly reinvent, look for innovation and above all be patient, explains Rummel.
It is rumbling over the hills of Landau. A storm is brewing. The harvest is done for the day, but there is still another ten metres to complete and the grapes remain hanging. The workers return home. “Rain is not a problem, our natural soil can tolerate that,” says Rummel. Hailstones then rain down on the roof. From one second to the next the face of the winegrower turns to stone. “If the hail lasts for too long, the harvest will be destroyed and an entire year’s work will have been in vain,” explains Rummel. Apart from the patter of hailstones it has become quiet. Everyone is anxiously staring up at the sky. The weather changes again and the hail turns to rain. There is a sigh of relief all round. The day ends happily and the harvest can continue tomorrow.
60 years of Wintershall in Landau
The first horsehead pump in Dammheim began service in September 1955. Almost 200 wellbores have been “sunk” since then – the mining term for drilling. Of these, around 65 wells are still in operation. At depths of up to 1,800 metres, the crude oil is brought to the surface with the help of our horsehead pumps. Wintershall recovers around 20,000 tonnes of oil each year in Landau, thus making an active contribution to Germany’s domestic supply of high quality hydrocarbons.
An end to the production is not in sight, as the reservoir is far from being exhausted. In 2011, further valuable reserves were tapped with the “Landau 2a” well, which will enable longer-term production at the location. Despite the prolonged production period, there are still plenty of oil reserves available in the deposit that we can – and want to – recover economically in the traditional way.
Together with our parent company BASF, we are constantly working on new solutions to recover oil even more efficiently from the deposits – in an environmentally friendly and safe manner.