Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Germany-North Wine Tour by ombiasy, 2014

Picture: The Germany-North Wine Tour by ombiasy 2014 Group at the Roter Hang in Nierstein

The Germany-North Wine Tour by ombiasy (September 4 – 13, 2014) was the first of two German wine tours in 2014, both organized by Annette Schiller. This posting provides an overview.

See also:
Germany-North Wine Tour by ombiasy, 2014
Germany-South Wine Tour by ombiasy, 2014 
German Wine and Culture Tour by ombiasy, 2013

On the Germany-North Wine Tour by ombiasy in 2014, we visited a total of 18 wineries (14 members of the VDP, the German association of elite wine makers) in 6 different wine regions where predominantly white grapes are planted: Saale-Unstrut, which is the most northern German wine region and former GDR territory; Franken and its signature grape Silvaner; Rheingau with its perfect, elegant, racy Rieslings; Northern Rheinhessen where a variety of white grapes and also Pinot Noir grow; Mosel with its dizzying steep vineyards and famous Rieslings; Nahe and its serene, peaceful valley where perfect harmonious wines reflect their roots.

Pictures: Wine Tastings

Germany with its roughly 250,000 acres under vine belongs today to one of the smaller wine producing countries in the world. However, viticulture in Germany has a long tradition, going back to Roman times 2,000 years ago. In the 15th century, the area under vine was four times larger than it is today. Wars, subsequent loss of territory, diseases, overproduction, and competition from beer brewing resulted in land turned over to other agricultural uses. In the 19th century, concentration on terroir and technological progress fostered a tremendous improvement of quality and the prestige of German wines, in particular from the Mosel, Rheingau, and Pfalz regions, resulting in prices above those for first growth Bordeaux wines. Today, all thirteen wine regions in Germany produce outstanding wines.

Pictures: The Group at Weingut Selbach-Oster with Johannes Selbach and at Weingut Reichsgraf von Kesselstadt with Annegret Reh-Gartner

Annette Schiller: Our way of traveling allows wine lovers to fully experience authentic Germany. Drawing on our love and deep knowledge of Germany and close personal ties to many personalities in the wine scene, our small group visits many of the hidden gems that other tours pass by, but which are essential to comprehend what German wine is all about.

DAY 1: Thursday, September 04

09:00 am Departure by coach from Frankfurt am Main.

12:00 pm Arrival at the Veste-Wachsenburg, Thuringia, and lunch.

The Veste-Wachsenburg is one of the very few intact medieval fortresses in Germany. It sits on the highest elevation of the Thuringia countryside “three fortresses” with a breathtaking view of the surrounding landscape. The restaurant at Veste-Wachsenburg, led by an ambitious chef, serves specialties of Thuringia at the highest level.

We also stopped in Arnstadt, home to the Bach family clan, to visit the church where Johann Sebastian Bach held his first post as cantor when he was 22 years old.

04:00 pm Arrival at hotel Berghotel zum Edelacker in Freyburg.

05:00 pm Arrival at the Pawis Winery (VDP) in Freyburg, Saale-Unstrut. Tour of the estate and wine tasting. Kerstin Pawis was our host; winemaker Bernhard Pawis joined us later.

The Saale-Unstrut wine region is Germany’s most northern wine region, located in the valleys of the Saale and Unstrut rivers, an area of the former German Democratic Republic (GDR). The oldest record of viticulture dates back to the year 998 during the reign of Emperor Otto III. Weingut Pawis is located in the historic Zscheiplitz Estate, established in the 12th century as a convent, close to Freyburg. It is a gorgeous set-up, but as Kistin Pawis told us, under the communist regime that did not allow private entrepreneurship, the then nationalized estate was completely run down and renovation was a major undertaking.

Pictures: At Weingut Pawis with Kerstin and Bernhard Pawis

Bernhard Pawis is a trained winemaker, educated in the former German Democratic Republic in a VEB (volkseigener Betrieb / company owned by the people) winery. Shortly after the Iron Curtain came down in 1989, Bernhard’s parents bought 0.5 hectares of vineyard land and founded a small winery. Following the death of his father in 1998, Bernhard took over the reins, undertook major investments, bought more land and the Zscheiplitz Estate, and paid detailed attention to quality. In 2001 he received the highest reward for his efforts when he was invited to join the VDP, Germany’s association of elite winemakers with only about 200 members. To listen to Kerstin and Bernhard Pawis, and also to his fellow winemakers in this former GDR area, recount their stories of reviving an economic and agriculture waste land after German reunification, is living history and worthy of a spy thriller

07:30 pm Dinner at Hotel-Restaurant Unstruttal in Freyburg.

DAY 2: Friday, September 05

10:00 am Winery tour and tasting at winery Winzerhof Gussek in Naumburg, Saale-Unstrut. We were hosted by owner and winemaker André Gussek.

Winzerhof Gussek was founded by André Gussek in 1993. He said: “None of my ancestors had ever been interested in wine – only my father loved to drink wine – thank God!” In the 1980s André came to Naumburg and for 20 years, during GDR times, and later after reunification he was cellar master at the government-owned Landesweingut Kloster Pforta in Bad Koesen, near Naumburg. In 1993, he bought property surrounded by 5 acres of vineyard land (Kaatschener Dachsberg and Naumburger Steinmeister) to pursue his dream of making his own wine.

Pictures: At Winzerhof Gussek in Naumburg, Saale-Unstrut, with owner and winemaker André Gussek

At first this was a part-time endeavor, but in 2002, the time was ripe to fully concentrate on his own wine making estate, the Winzerhof Gussek. Over the following years, he expanded the vineyards to 9.2 ha (about 24 acres) and he now has 3 full-time employees. 66% of his vineyards are planted with white grape varietals and 34% with Pinot Noir and Zweigelt, a flagship red varietal of Austria. His red wines are stunning and among the finest in Germany.

12:05 pm Arrival in Naumburg-Saale.

We walked through the 1000 year old town, admired the impressive late Romanesque and Gothic Cathedral built between the 13th and 15th centuries, and took a look at the house of the Nietzsche family, where the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche spent his childhood.

Picture: In Naumburg-Saale

01:45 pm Lunch at Restaurant Fischhaus Schulpforte in Bad Kösen.

03.00 pm Vineyard tour, cellar tour and tasting at winery Landesweingut Kloster Pforta in Bad Kösen, Saale-Unstrut. We were hosted by General Manager Christian Kloss.

This winery is one of the five State-owned wine producing estates in Germany, and is owned by the State of Sachsen-Anhalt. Its history mirrors German history. Its origins date back to the Pforta Abbey, founded in 1137 by Cistercian monks. In 1154 the monks started to plant vines in the Pfortenser Köppelberg vineyard, which still today is one of the six vineyards of the winery, producing excellent wines. Pforta Abbey soon had a reputation as the richest abbey in medieval Thuringia, with vineyard holdings in 192 communes, totaling at least 250 ha (around 625 acres). After Reformation (during the 16th century the eastern part of Germany became Lutheran and the monks had to leave), ownership went to the kings of Saxony, which subsequently lost the Abbey Pforta to the Kingdom of Prussia at the Vienna Congress in 1814.

Pictures: At Landesweingut Kloster Pforta in Bad Kösen, Saale-Unstrut with General Manager Christian Kloss

After World War II, it became the socialist co-operative VEG (volkseigener Betrieb) Weinbau Naumburg in the GDR, with 300 acres of land. After the fall of the Wall in 1989, Abbey Pforta was in the hands of the privatization organization Treuhand for a few years, but privatization efforts were not successful and thus the State of Sachsen-Anhalt took over. The winery still operates in the historic buildings, and we indulged in the beautiful wines and surroundings steeped in an almost 1000 year long story.

06:30 pm Arrival in Erfurt at the Mercure Hotel Erfurt Altstadt.

We explored the more than 1000 year old city with its medieval city center. Famous sights are the cathedral hill with its two impressive churches side by side, the St. Marien cathedral and the St. Severin church. Other famous buildings are the Krämerbrücke, a bridge completely covered with dwellings, and the Synagogue, which was established in the 11th century and is the oldest standing synagogue in Europe.

DAY 3: Saturday, September 06

10:30 pm Cellar tour and tasting at winery Juliusspital (VDP) in Würzburg, Franken.

Juliusspital is Germany’s second largest winery with 425 acres under vines in the most renowned sites of Franken, and one of the always top rated wineries. The appeal of the wines lies in their fascinating diversity. This winery is part of the charitable foundation Juliusspital, which was founded more than 430 years ago by the Prince-Bishop of Würzburg, Julius Echter von Mespelbrunn, and still today comprises among other institutions a hospital, a hospice, and care facilities for the elderly and the poor.

Pictures: At Juliusspital in Würzburg, Franken

In order to equip the foundation with the necessary financial means Julius Echter founded, among other business entities, a winery to guarantee steady income. The historical cellars - which we had the opportunity to visit-, with the old traditional wooden casks, are still in use for fermentation and aging.

12:30 pm Lunch at the Juliusspital foundation's restaurant.

03:30 pm Vineyard walk and tasting at winery Bickel-Stumpf (VDP) in Frickenhausen, Franken. We were hosted by Reimund Stumpf, with Matthias Stumpf and Melanie Stumpf.

This visit took us to one of the fairly recently established wineries, one that grew out of a love story. Reimund Stumpf and Carmen Bickel met, fell in love, and in 1976 decided to share their lot – personally and professionally. The winery’s 25 acres are in two locations, in Thüngersheim, north of Würzburg, and in Frickenhausen, 25 miles upstream the Main River.

Pictures: At Weingut Bickel-Stumpf in Frickenhausen, Franken with Reimund, Matthias and Melanie Stumpf

Both children, Matthias and Melanie, became winemakers, and earned their credentials during many apprenticeships in Germany and abroad. With the new generation at the helm, particularly the signature grape of Franken, Silvaner, has come to a new recognition. The Silvaners at Bickel-Stumpf are beautiful, elegant, creamy, smooth – absolutely delicious!

07:15 pm Arrival in Mainz at the Hotel Hilton.

We enjoyed the evening in Mainz - one of the ten Wine Capitals of the world: Strolling along the Rhine River, wandering the narrow cobblestone streets in the medieval old town, admiring the 1000 year old cathedral, and discovering the typical local wine taverns.

DAY 4: Sunday, September 07

10:00 am Visit of the Basilica of Saint Valentine in Kiedrich, Rheingau

A very special treat was the visit of the Basilica of Saint Valentine in Kiedrich. Kiedrich is a 1000 year old wine-growing community and famous for its completely preserved Gothic architecture. The organ in the Saint Valentine church dates from the late Gothic period and is the oldest playable organ in Germany. Since 1330, every Sunday at High Mass a boys and men choir (recently girls have been allowed to join) sings liturgial Latin plainsongs (Gregorian chants) in a special dialect only preserved here.

Picture: In Kiedrich

10:30 am Cellar tour and tasting at winery Robert Weil (VDP) in Kiedrich, Rheingau. We were hosted by Wilhelm Weil’s personal assistant, Jan Christensen.

With 185 acres under vine – 99% is planted with Riesling-, winery Robert Weil is one of the largest estates in the Rheingau. This estate with its chateaux character is a symbol of German Riesling culture. The historical manor house, the ultra-modern cellars and the vinothek stand side by side in a beautiful park – the same synthesis of old and new that is reflected in the estate’s philosophy of excellent, terroir-focused winemaking where tradition and contemporary oenological know-how are in harmony.

Pictures: At Weingut Robert Weil with Jan Christensen

01:00 pm Lunch in the tavern at winery Kloster-Eberbach, Rheingau.

Pictures: Lunch at Kloster Eberbach

02:30 pm Tour and tasting at the Eberbach Abbey winery (VDP).

Still a world-class winery today, the Eberbach Abbey is a former Cistercian monastery, founded in 1136 by Bernard of Clairvaux as the first Cistercian monastery on the eastern bank of the Rhine river. Today Eberbach Abbey is one of the five State-owned wineries (the State of Hesse is its proprietor) and with 500 acres the largest winery in Germany. Its Romanesque and Gothic buildings are impressive. The vineyards of Eberbach Abbey were, at 750 acres, the largest in medieval Europe.

Pictures: At Kloster Eberbach

We got an in-depth tour of the Abbey, including the visit of the old monk’s dormitory where every year the famous auction of premium German wines takes place. A very special treat was a peek into the treasure chamber, where century old wine bottles are still stored and where the movie “The Name of the Rose” with Sean Connery was filmed in 1986. We got to taste a special wine from the treasure chamber: a rare 1971 Riesling Auslese.

After the tour and tasting we had time to stroll through the Abbey grounds, followed by a visit of the famous „Steinberg“, a brick fenced-in vineyard with an outdoor tavern, a popular Sunday afternoon destination for people from Frankfurt, to drink a glass of wine from the Steinberg.

Pictures: In the Steinberg Vineyard

08.00 pm Back at Hotel Hilton in Mainz.

DAY 5: Monday, September 08

09:30 am Tasting at winery Winzerhof Thörle in Saulheim, Rheinhessen. We were hosted by Ute Thörle.

Rheinhessen is the most underrated wine region in Germany, but is catching up with a vengeance. There is an increasingly large group of young and ambitious winemakers who produce outstanding wines. Two of them are the Thörle brothers at the family-owned Winzerhof Thörle in the town of Saulheim, with Johannes Thörle in the driver‘s seat, assisted by his parents Rudolf and Ute and his brother Christoph.

Pictures: At Winzerhof Thörle in Saulheim, Rheinhessen with Ute Thörle

About 50 acres are under vine and planted with mainly Riesling, Silvaner and the Burgundy grapes Chardonnay and Pinot Noir as well as some Sauvignon Blanc. A blind Pinot Noir “Germany Versus Rest of the World” tasting in London in October 2011 ranked the 2008 Winzerhof Thörle Spätburgunder (Pinot Noir) Hölle as #3 overall and #1 of the German Pinot Noirs.

12:00 pm Tasting at winery Kühling-Gillot (VDP) in Bodenheim Rheinhessen. We were hosted by Frank Schuber; Roland Gillot, Caroline Kühling-Gillot’s father joined us for a short period.

Winery Kühling-Gillot is a traditional family-oriented estate where women have played a decisive role for several generations, with daughter Carolin continuing the legacy since 2002. She is one of the energetic young winemakers in Rheinhessen and co-founder of the young wine growers association “Message in a Bottle”.

Pictures: At Weingut Kühling-Gillot in Bodenheim Rheinhessen with Frank Schuber and Roland Gillot, Caroline Kühling-Gillot’s Father

In 2006 she married Hans-Oliver Spanier, owner of the VDP estate Battenfeld-Spanier in the southern part of Rheinhessen. Both are gifted winemakers and share the commitment to leaving a legacy of healthy soil and great wines. They employ biodynamic methods in the vineyards and for making the wine in the cellar; they share the philosophy of what H. O. calls “controlled laissez faire”. We tasted wines from both estates.

02:00 pm Lunch at restaurant Bootshaus in Mainz.

The Bootshaus is the restaurant of the rowing club of Mainz and sits right on the convergence of the Rhine and Main Rivers. This is the second restaurant of 1-Michelin star chef Frank Buchholz.

04:00 pm Vineyard walk, cellat tour and tasting at winery Künstler (VDP) in Hochheim am Main, Rheingau. We were hosted by Stefan Traub; we met winemaker Rolf Schlegel in the vineyard.

The Künstler family has been producing wine since 1648. Until WWII their estate lay in Southern Moravia, which now belongs to the Czech Republic. After the war they became refugees and Franz Künstler, the father of the current owner, eventually settled in Hochheim, starting from scratch. The winery grew and now belongs to the top estates in Germany; 75% of its 75 acres are classified as first growths.

Pictures: At Weingut Künstler in Hochheim am Main, Rheingau, with Stefan Traub

The village of Hochheim is the gateway to the Rheingau region and actually sits on the banks of the Main River, which joins the Rhine River only a few miles downstream. The terroir in Hochheim differs distinctively from the rest of the Rheingau, and its uniqueness creates wines found nowhere else. Thomas Jefferson was very fond of the Hochheim wines and brought back vines from Hochheim which he planted in Monticello.

06:45 pm Arrival at Hotel Zum Krug in Hattenheim.

Picture: At Hotel Zum Krug

DAY 6: Tuesday, September 09

09:45 am Vineyard tour and tasting at winery Peter Jakob Kühn (VDP) in Oestrich-Winkel, Rheingau. We were hosted by Angela and Peter Jakob Kühn’s daughter Sandra Kühn, a trained winemaker.

Pictures: At Weingut Peter Jakob Kühn in Oestrich-Winkel, Rheingau with Sandra Kühn

The winery Peter Jakob Kühn belongs to the top wine producing estates in Germany. Founded in 1786, currently the 11th generation of the Kühn family takes care of the vineyards and the wine making. Since 2004 Peter Jakob Kühn has converted to organic and biodynamic viticultural practices in the vineyard as well as in the cellar. In 2009 the winery became certified by Demeter, the association of biodynamic farming based on anthroposophical principles. Sandra Kühn introduced us to their vision of sustainable wine making, and explained in detail the procedures of biodynamic winemaking in the vineyard and in the cellar.

12:00 pm Lunch at Restaurant Breuer’s Rüdesheimer Schloss in Rüdesheim, Rheingau.

The Georg Breuer winery was founded in 1880, and developed into an 80 acre estate with top vineyards in Rauenthal and Rüdesheim. Today daughter Theresa owns the estate and is also a very talented winemaker. Year after year, she produces wines of the highest quality without jeopardizing her own distinctive style, noticeable in every bottle. In the middle of the hustle and bustle of Rüdesheim, the Breuer’s Rüdesheimer Schloss is an oasis of very good traditional German food and elegant Rieslings from the Breuer winery.

Pictures: Lunch at Restaurant Breuer’s Rüdesheimer Schloss in Rüdesheim, Rheingau

02:00 pm Boarding of the cruise ship on the Rhine river in Rüdesheim.

Cruise on the Rhine, passing the famous Loreley Rock and the slopes of the Mittelrhein wine region. Time to indulge in the breathtakingly beautiful view of the Rhine River and its banks dotted with castles, forts, and ruins dating from the middle ages. The Middle-Rhine valley is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Pictures: Rhine River Cruise

04:30 pm Arrival in Bad Salzig. We got off the boat and boarded our waiting bus.

06:00 pm Arrival at Hotel Zum grünen Kranz, Zell, Mosel.

We explored the quaint, little village of Zell.

DAY 7: Wednesday, September 10

10:00 am Vineyard tour and wine tasting at winery Clemens Busch (VDP) in Pünderich, Mosel. Rita Busch took us through the vineyards and Clemens Busch greeted us during the tasting.

The Busch family lives near the banks of the Mosel in a beautiful, restored half-timbered house built in 1663. Because flooding is a constant danger, the vaulted cellar, built in the 1970s, lies nearby, on higher grounds at Clemens’ parents’ home. In a region most known for the noticeable residual sugar and low alcohol of its wines, Clemens Busch’s focus is on dry premium Rieslings that can compete with the best dry whites in the world.

Pictures: At Weingut Clemens Busch with Rita and Clemens Busch

He also produces off-dry wines as well as powerful, complex noble sweet wines. In 1984 he began using organic viticultural practices and more recently moved towards biodynamic. Clemens Busch, owner and winemaker, will give us the tour and will also take us by boat across the Mosel River to show us his vineyards which are among the steepest in the Mosel region.

12:45 pm Lunch at restaurant Weinhaus Lenz in Pünderich.

02:00 pm Cellar tour and tasting at winery Selbach-Oster in Zeltingen, Mosel. We were hosted by Johannes Selbach.

The ancestors of the Selbach family have been cultivating Riesling since 1600. Today, Johannes Selbach and his wife Barbara are running the winery with passion for the wines and continue the long family tradition producing top quality Riesling. The 20 hectares (49 acres) of the estate are all on the steep slopes of the Mosel in top vineyard sites like Wehlener Sonnenuhr, Zeltinger Sonnenuhr and Graacher Domprobst.

Pictures: At Weingut Selbach-Oster in Zeltingen, Mosel with Johannes Selbach

The great-grandfather of Johannes owned a Mosel steamship and shipped his wines in oak barrels down the Mosel and the Rhine to the North Sea ports. These barrels were made by Matthias Oster, a cooper and the great-grandfather on the paternal side of the family. The traditional 1000 liter oak barrels called "Fuder" are still used. Recently Johannes Selbach teamed up with Paul Hobbs, a California-based renowned wine maker to establish a winery on a 27 hectare-estate on the southern tip of Lake Seneca in the Finger Lakes AVA in New York State.

07:00 pm Arrival at ante-porta City Hotel in Trier.

08:00 pm Vesper in the wine tavern “Weinstube Kesselstatt” in the Palais Kesselstatt, with its historical vaulted cellars and idyllic courtyard.

Picture: Vesper at Weinstube Kesselstatt in the Palais Kesselstatt

DAY 8: Thursday, September 11

09:30 am Cellar tour and tasting at winery Von Hövel (VDP) in Konz, Saar Valley, Mosel. We were hosted by owner and winemaker Max von Kunow.

In this region wine was already produced in Roman times. There is evidence that wine was produced at the site of the Von Hövel estate as early as 1150. In those days the winery belonged to the monastery of Saint Maximin in Trier. Under Napoleonic rule all church property was secularized and came under French administration until 1810. The Grach family, a well-known family from Trier, was able to buy the estate in 1803. Since then the winery Von Hövel has been in the hands of the same family.

Pictures: At Weingut Von Hövel in Konz, Saar Valley, Mosel, with owner and winemaker Max von Kunow

The current owner Maximilian von Kunow is direct descendant of the Grach family and the 7th generation producing outstanding wines at this estate. In the estate's south-west facing steep vineyards Riesling grapes grow and mature. Max showed us the 1100 year old barrel cellar where still today the wine matures in wooden vats, some of them several hundred years old, to become ripe, spicy, elegant Rieslings.

12:30 pm Wine tasting and lunch at winery Reichsgraf von Kesselstadt in Morscheid, Mosel. We were hosted by owner Annegret Reh-Gartner and her husband Gerhard Gartner, a former 2-star Michelin Chef.

First documented in 1349, the estate today cultivates 90 acres of vineyard land, consecrated exclusively to Riesling. This winery is unique because the vineyards are equally divided among the three river valleys that form the Mosel appellation: the Mosel River valley itself, and the valleys of its two contributories, the Saar and Ruwer Rivers. Between 1854 and 1889 four former monasteries of Saint Maximin and their vineyard holdings were purchased, two smaller ones in the Mosel valley and two bigger ones in the Saar and Ruwer valley, all four form today the Reichsgraf von Kesselstadt winery.

Pictures At Weingut Reichsgraf von Kesselstadt in Morscheid, Mosel with owner Annegret Reh-Gartner and her husband Gerhard Gartner, a former 2-star Michelin Chef

Winemaking facilities and headquarters of the estate are today in Schloss Marienlay in Morscheid in the Ruwer valley. In the cellar, winemaker Annegret Reh-Gartner puts emphasis on spontaneous fermentation to interfere as little as possible at the winemaking stage, underscoring the individuality of the terroir of each valley. It was fascinating to compare the wines from the three different steep slopes of the Mosel, Saar, and Ruwer valleys.

04:00 pm Guided sightseeing tour in Trier.

Trier sits on the banks of the Mosel River and is the oldest city in Germany. In Roman times it was the largest city north of the Alps, and for some years it even became an imperial city. This 2000 year old city is a treasure trove of Roman and German history, and pagan and Christian culture. There is so much to see in Trier, but the famous landmarks from Roman times are a must: the Porta Nigra, the amphitheatre, and the imperial thermal baths. The most eminent citizen of Trier in modern times was Karl Marx, who was born and raised here.

Picture: Touring Trier

DAY 9: Friday, September 12

10:30 am Cellar tour and tasting at winery H. Dönnhoff (VDP), Oberhausen, Nahe. We were hosted by Christina Dönnhoff.

The Dönnhoff family has been making wines for more than 250 years, but a new era started when Helmut Dönnhoff began making wine in 1971. He started out with a vineyard of 10 acres, and through careful acquisition he now cultivates 60 acres of the best vineyards in the Nahe valley.

Pictures: At Weingut Dönnhoff in Oberhausen, Nahe, with Christina Dönnhoff

Helmut Dönnhoff has become a living legend of German wine and is celebrated as one of Germany’s very best producers. He is committed to making the most out of the terroir to attain the ultimate in quality. The majority of the grapes planted are Riesling, but Dönnhoff also produces outstanding Pinot Blanc and Pinot Gris. We will have the honour of learning from Helmut Dönnhoff about his philosophy of wine making and will taste the wines under his guidance.

02:00 pm Lunch with wine pairing and cellar tour at winery and restaurant Krüger-Rumpf (VDP) in Münster-Sarmsheim, Nahe. We were hosted by winemaker and owner Georg Rumpf.

“In our family, viniculture has been a tradition since 1708 - a tradition that we have been cultivating in our vineyards as well as in our manor house which was built back in 1830” says Georg Rumpf. Today, the vineyard totals about 50 acres and the annual production is 14,000 cases.

Pictures: At Weingut Krüger-Rumpf in Münster-Sarmsheim, Nahe, with winemaker and owner Georg Rumpf

Georg Rumpf has taken over the winemaking at Weingut Kruger-Rumpf, while his father Stefan now focuses more on sales, and his mother Cornelia manages the restaurant. The wines, gourmet regional food, the hospitality and warmth of the family, and the ambiance in this lovely estate where modernism is perfectly combined with tradition, are outstanding.

04:45 pm Cellar tour and tasting at Weingut Schlossgut Diel, Burg Layen (VDP) in Rümmelsheim, Nahe. We were hosted by Caroline Diel’s husband Sylvain Taurisson Diel.

More than 200 years ago, the great-great-grandfather of the current owner, Armin Diel, bought the estate from the Baron Dalberg. It was only due to the negotiation skills of Baron Dalberg that the fortress Layen, which dates from the 11th century, was rescued from being confiscated and destroyed by Napoleon when the area west of the Rhine River came under French rule.

Pictures: At Weingut Schlossgut Diel, Burg Layen in Rümmelsheim, Nahe, with Sylvain Taurisson Diel

The Diel family developed the estate into one of the most prominent German wineries. Armin and Monika Diel replanted 65% of the vineyards with Rieslings and the rest with the Burgundy grapes: Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir. Their portfolio comprises grandiose dry and sweet Rieslings, extraordinary white and red Pinots and a stunning sparkling wine traditionally fermented in the bottle. Today the 6th generation of the family, daughter Caroline, works with her father and guarantees the continuation of making first class wines at Burg Layen.

07:15 pm Arrival at Hotel Stiftswingert in Mainz.

08:00 pm Blind Wine tasting at wine tavern Weinhaus Bluhm in Mainz.

The tasting was guided by Roland Ladenberg, owner of Weinhaus Bluhm and an authority on the wines of Germany.

Pictures: At Wine Tavern Weinhaus Bluhm in Mainz, with Roland Ladenberg

DAY 10: Saturday, September 13

09:30 am Walking tour through Mainz.

We explored the ancient history of Mainz. We took a look at the ruins of Roman times, visited the 1000 year old Cathedral, strolled through the medieval alleys of Old Town, admired the windows that Chagall did in the St. Stephan church and visited the colorful fruit and vegetable market at the foot of the 1000 year old Cathedral.

Picture: In Mainz

12:00 pm Tour, tasting, and lunch at winery Schätzel in Nierstein, Rheinhessen. We were hosted by Kai Schätzel’s mother, Nanne Schätzel, who used to run the winery for several decades.

Before arriving at the winery we stopped at the Red Slope, the famous vineyard with its outstanding terroir. From there we had a breathtaking view of surrounding vineyards, the Rhine River, and the Frankfurt skyline. The Schätzel family has been making wine for 650 years, for 5 generations at the current location: the General von Zastrow Estate.

Pictures: At Weingut Schätzel in Nierstein, Rheinhessen, with Nanne Schätzel

Today, the winery is owned and managed by Kai Schätzel, who is also one of the upcoming young winemakers in Rheinhessen. When he became fully responsible, he decided to change course at Weingut Schätzel and to aim at becoming a nationally and internationally recognized premium wine producer.

The stunning wines, the historical setting, the hospitality and warmth of this family, the German “Gemütlichkeit” made the perfect finale for our tour.

03:00 pm Arrival at Frankfurt International Airport

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