The estate was founded in the years 1842 to 1844 by the Blankenhorn brothers Nikolaus, Adolph Friedrich and Jakob Wilhelm, from Müllheim, 30 kilometres south of Freiburg. It took two years and the help of up to 200 labourers for them to turn the wooded slopes of a hillside above Ihringen into land suitable for planting vines. For their stock, they relied on contacts in the world of wine: Riesling seedlings from the Rheingau, Traminer from the Reichsrat von Buhl in the Palatinate, and pinot noir from the grand cru vineyard of Clos Vougeot in Burgundy. These raw materials were an ideal start. By the time of the first harvest, in 1847, the vaulted cellars, still in use today, had been constructed.
Adolph Friedrich’s son, Professor Adolph Blankenhorn, was one of Germany’s earliest wine scientists. His doctoral studies were undertaken at the University of Heidelberg under the direction of Professor Robert Bunsen; he then rejoined the family company, and began to use the Blankenhorn family estate as the base for his research in vine culture and oenology. The Oenological Institute of Karlsruhe was established in 1867 using his own funds, and in 1870 he began publishing the journal Annalen der Önologie. Professor Blankenhorn contributed significantly to the development of root grafts to combat the phylloxera louse.
Professor Blankenhorn contributed also to the development of wine as a profession. In 1874 he was a founder member both of the Baden and the all-German wine growers’ association and became the founder president of the latter. By 1878 his name was known across Europe for contributions both to science and to the professional advancement of winemaking: for these, he was awarded a Gold Medal at the World’s Fair in Paris.
By 1880, Blankenhorn’s health could no longer support his active research. From 1898, he was living beside Lake Constance, and he died in 1906 in Konstanz. The Blankenhorn family continued to tend the estate, but in 1919, following the First World War, the family sold the business to the Chamber of Agriculture of the then state of Baden. The estate was then nationalized in 1933 as part of the Reich strategy for food and drink. Following the Second World War, the estate was taken over by the new state of Baden-Württemberg, and incorporated as a research and teaching establishment into the State Viticultural Institute.