Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Preview: Germany-East Wine and Art Tour by ombiasy WineTours (2015)

Picture: "Alte Main Brücke" in Würzburg, Franken

The Germany-East Tour by ombiasy WineTours is the first of 3 Germany wine tours coming up in 2015. It is scheduled for June 11 to June 20, several months before the other 2 Germany tours by ombiasy WineTours in 2015, which will take place in August and September. Also, the Germany-East tour by ombiasy WineTours will have a very strong art element, much more than the other 2 Germany tours in 2015.

Annette and I spent a few weeks in March in Europe around Prowein 2015, preparing, inter alia, the Germany-East Tour by ombiasy WineTours. As a result of the inspection visit, Annette changed the tour a bit. Here is the revised itinerary, with a series of photos we took during the March visit.

Germany-East Tour by ombiasy WineTours (2015)

DAY 1: Thursday, June 11

09:00 am Departure from Frankfurt am Main.

12:00 pm Lunch at Veste-Wachsenburg, Thuringia.

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.

02:00 pm Departure at Veste-Wachsenburg.

We will include a short stop in Arnstadt (5 min from the Veste-Wachsenburg), 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 the Winery Lützkendorf in Bad Kösen.

The Saale-Unstrut wine region sits on 51st latitude and is Germany’s northernmost 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. The winery Lützkendorf was founded at the dawn of the 19th century and existed until 1959 when the GDR authorities integrated the estate into the government run Agricultural Cooperative. In 1991, after the reunification of the two German States the vineyards were returned to the family. Uwe Lützkendorf reestablished the winery and built new production facilities in Bad Kösen. The stony soils and the climate of this northern wine region decisively influences the character of the wines. Uwe Lützkendorf’s philosophy of wine making is as little intervention as possible to showcase the character of the wines. In 1996 the winery Lützkendorf was the first estate in the Saale-Unstrut region to become member of the prestigious VDP, the Association of Germany’s Premium Winemakers.

06:30 pm Arrival and Check-in at Hotel Toskana in Naumburg

07:30 pm Dinner at Hotel Toskana in Naumburg.

After dinner we take a walk through the quaint, little town and taste some more Saale-Unstrut wines. We will also take a look at the impressive late Romanesque and Gothic Cathedral built between the 13th and 15th centuries, and take a look at the house of the Nietzsche family, where the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche spent his childhood.

DAY 2: Friday, June 12

09.30 am Cellar tour, and wine tasting at the Pawis Winery (VDP) in Freyburg, Saale-Unstrut.

The Saale-Unstrut wine region is Germany’s northernmost 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 – owned and run by Bernhard 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 Bernhard 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. 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 him, 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.

See: Weingut Pawis (Saale Unstrut): Estate Tour and Wine Tasting with Kerstin Pawis – Germany-North Wine Tour by ombiasy (2014)

12:15 pm Wine pairing lunch, and cellar visit at winery Thürkind in Gröst, Saale-Unstrut

This winery was founded shortly after reunification when the government returned land to the Thürkind family which had been nationalized during the communist era. The land included 3 acres of vineyards. Rudolf Thürkind used to work as cellar master in the cooperative in Freyburg and winemaker colleagues of the wine regions in the western part of Germany encouraged the Thürkinds to start producing their own wine. Today, more than twenty years later, the Thürkind family owns 15 acres of vineyards in very favorable sites and developed the old farm into into a beautiful estate, making excellent wines, including gorgeous Pinot Blanc and Pinot Gris. Son Mario Thürkind is now at the helm of the estate and will be our host.

Pictures: At Weingut Thürkind, Saale-Unstrut Region

04:30 pm Arrival in Leipzig and check-in at the Mercure Hotel Leipzig.

08:00 pm Gewandhaus Leipzig.

Concert with the full Gewandhaus orchestra conducted by Riccardo Chailly as part of the Leipzig Bachfest.

DAY 3: Saturday, June 13

10:00 am Guided walking tour through Leipzig.

This city is a gem for classical music lovers. There is no space to list all the world-famous composers, conductors, musicians, opera singers, and poets, who lived and worked in Leipzig. We will pay a visit to the St. Thomas church, home of the world-renowned “Thomanerchor”, the Sankt Thomas Boys Choir, and a place of musical creativity. This church is also the final resting place of its most famous cantor, Johann Sebastian Bach. We will also visit the Nikolai church, where the collapse of the communist systems in Eastern Europe and eventually the reunification of Germany began. For months on end, every Monday evening people gathered inside the church praying and demonstrating for freedom, before the protests spilled out onto the streets leading to the fall of the Berlin Wall that changed the world order established after World War II.

11:30 am Discover Leipzig on your own.

For lunch (on your own) I suggest you take a look at Auerbachs Keller. It is the second oldest restaurant in Leipzig dating back to the early 15th century. This was Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s hangout when he was a student at the university of Leipzig. He made this restaurant immortal by mentioning the vaulted barrel cellar in his epic “Faust”.

01:30 pm Departure.

We could pay a short visit to the “Baumwollspinnerei”, a vast, old, former cotton-spinning mill converted to a mecca for the visual arts. More than 50 artists, among them internationally acclaimed Neo Rauch, flagship of the “Leipziger Schule”, live, work, and exhibit here. This has put Leipzig on the global art tourism map.

04:30 pm Arrival, cellar tour and tasting at winery Schloss Proschwitz, Prinz zur Lippe (VDP) in Zadel, Sachsen.

Picture: Annette and Christian Schiller with Georg Prinz zur Lippe, Weingut Schloss Proschwitz, at Prowein 2015, see: Prowein 2015 in Düsseldorf, Germany – Schiller’s Impressions

The Prinz zur Lippe family was first mentioned in the early 12th century and belonged to the reigning dynasties in Europe until 1918. For more than 300 years, the family branch of Georg Prinz zur Lippe, owner of winery Schloss Proschwitz, lived in Sachsen and produced wine. However there is a 45 year long interruption, when in 1945 the Russians occupied the eastern half of Germany, and disappropriated and expelled the family. Immediately after Germany’s reunification Georg Prinz zur Lippe started to buy back his family’s wine estate and ancestral residence, the Proschwitz castle. Since then he has restored the castle to its former glory, and invested heavily to build up the winery to become a state of the art wine producing estate. With 220 acres under vine the estate belongs to one of the larger wineries in Germany and is the largest privately owned one in Sachsen. Great care is given to sustainable techniques in the vineyard to enable future generations to continue to produce outstanding wines. Dr. Prinz Georg zur Lippe will be our host.

Pictures: At Weingut Schloss Proschwitz in Zadel, Saxony

06:30 pm Wine pairing dinner at Lippe'sches Gutshaus, Schloss Proschwitz.The regional, fresh cuisine with a sophisticated twist – a perfect pairing with the Schloss Proschwitz wines - received the Chaîne des Rôtisseurs award in 2011.

08:45 pm Arrival and check-in at Welcome Hotel in Meissen.

Enjoy the view across the Elbe river on the beautiful historic city of Meissen with the cathedral and the mighty Albrechtsburg castle.

Picture: View of Meissen

DAY 4: Sunday, June 14

10:30 am Visit and tasting at winery Karl Friedrich Aust in Radebeul, Sachsen.

The origins of the “Meinholdsche Turmhaus” (tower building), the heart of the winery Aust, dates back to the year 1650. Wine was already made here in the 18th century. The Aust family was able to purchase the estate in 1975 and restored this historical gem on their own initiative. However, during the communist era they were only allowed to produce 100 liters of wine for their own consumption. The fall of the Iron Curtain in 1989 opened unforeseen opportunities. The new situation allowed the Aust family to cultivate their own 13 acres of vineyards, and the winery Karl Friedrich Aust was born. Karl Friedrich trained at prominent estates in the western part of Germany to learn the art of making wine and has now become a top wine maker in his own right. Wine and art is closely intertwined in the Aust family. Cordelia Friederike Curling-Aust, the sister of winemaker Karl Friedrich Aust has her own art studio and art school in the historic buildings of the estate. Her husband Brian Curling's graphic art is on display at the winery and changing exhibits are organized throughout the year.

12:30 pm Wine pairing lunch at the winery. This tiny restaurant with its tiny kitchen produces outstanding food. Local, organic ingredients and a gifted, very talented chef make for stunning, tasty, creative dishes.

Pictures: At Weingut Karl Friedrich Aust in Radebeul, Saxony

03:30 pm Arrival in Dresden and check-in at INNSIDE hotel.

Take a stroll through the historic part of Dresden, soak in the magnificent architecture and views along the “Brühl Terraces” on the banks of the Elbe river, or simply relax, take an early dinner (dinner on your own), and wind down before the opera evening.

07:00 pm Semperoper Dresden.

Opera: "The Magic Flute" by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

Pictures: Dresden, with the "Semperoper"

DAY 5: Monday, June 15

10:00 am Visit and tasting at winery Klaus Zimmerling (VDP) in Oberpoyritz, Sachsen.

In 1992, shortly after reunification, Klaus Zimmerling (see picture) founded this winery. This is a very special place, hard to describe – you have to feel it - where art and wine is intimately intertwined. Two people, two passions, a heart warming experience: Klaus Zimmerling, the grape whisperer, who sees his vineyard, the perfectly shaped, southern facing Rysselkuppe as a gift and natural wonder, which imposes on him the duty to go the extra mile to produce extraordinary wine; Malgorzata Chodakoska, his wife, who sculptures graceful feminine figures in her studio, which sits in the middle of the vines. Every year one of her sculptures will serve as model for the bottle label of that particular vintage.

Pictures: At Weingut Klaus Zimmerling, Saxony

01:30 pm Lunch at the Wintergarten Café at Schlosshotel Pillnitz.

The Pillnitz castle and surrounding park, built in 1720, is the most important and largest chinoise castle in Europe. Later it became the summer residence of the Saxon kings and many juicy stories surround the castle still today, because August the Strong bestowed the castle on his favorite mistress, the Countess Cosel. After lunch we will have a bit of time to stroll through the park and to enjoy the view across the Elbe river on the city of Dresden in the distance.

Picture: At Schlosshotel Pillnitz

04:30 pm Guided tour through the Royal Palace in Dresden and the museum complex.

Dresden has a long history as the capital of the kingdom of Saxony. For centuries the Saxon royals spared no money and effort to furnish the city with artistic, and cultural splendor. The baroque and rococo city center, and wealth of art, gave the city the nickname: “Florence of the north”. In modern times, until 1933, Dresden was Europe’s capital of modern art. The allied bombing at the end of World War II wiped out the city. During GDR times some of the most important historical monuments were restored. After reunification reconstruction intensified, and major reconstruction projects, including rebuilding the “Frauenkirche”, were completed. The restoration of the Royal Palace was only completed in 2013. We will be able to visit the “Grünes Gewölbe” (Green Vault), and the “Türckische Cammer” (Turkish Chamber).

DAY 6: Tuesday, June 16

11:30 am Arrival in Bayreuth, Bavaria.

We will stop at the “Festspielhaus Bayreuth” (Bayreuth Festival Theater), the opera house dedicated solely to the performances of the operas of Richard Wagner. Unfortunately guided tours will not be possible at the time of our visit because rehearsals for the 2015 festival season will already be under way. We will also stop by “Wahnfried” the home of Richard and Cosima Wagner, which is now the Wagner museum and archives. I quote the former German secretary of State, Hans-Dietrich Genscher: “Richard Wagner’s Bayreuth home “Wahnfried” is an outstanding cultural place, but also a symbol of German history – in its contradictoriness and entanglements.”

12:30 pm Lunch at Ristorante Bürgerreuth, close to the Festspielhaus.

Pictures: Festspielhaus and Ristorante Bürgerreuth in Bayreuth

04:30 pm Visit and tasting at winery Wirsching (VDP) in Iphofen, Franken.

Making dry Silvaner, Rieslings, Scheurebe, Pinot Blanc, and Pinot Gris has been a family tradition for over 375 years. The current generation at the helm of the estate, Dr. Heinrich Wirsching is convinced that good wines originate in the vineyard. Therefore a lot of attention is given to the work outside the cellar doors, and the Wirsching wines, in particular the Silvaner, are among the best in Germany, Wirsching is an advocate of the Bocksbeutel bottle, the odd, round shaped flacon like bottle. He feels that this is the perfect bottle for his wines, so deeply rooted in their traditional Franken soil and heritage.

Pictures: Weingut Wirsching in Iphofen, Franken.

07:00 pm Arrival in Würzburg and check-in at Hotel Greifensteiner Hof.

Evening on your own. Relax after a long days journey or explore the beautiful old city of Würzburg, have a drink on the Alte Mainbrücke with stunning views of the Marienberg Fortress on the hill across the Main river.

Pictures: Würzburg, "Alte Main Brücke"

DAY 7: Wednesday, June 17

10:00 pm Arrival, cellar tour and tasting at winery Bürgerspital zum Heiligen Geist (VDP) in Würzburg, Franken.

This winery is part of the charitable foundation Bürgerspital Zum Heiligen Geist. In 1316 a noble Wüzburg couple Mergadis and Johannes von Steren built a care facility for the sick and poor elderly at the gates of the old city. In order to equip the foundation with the necessary financial means a winery was established to guarantee steady income. In 1598, the residents of the old people's home were provided with a tankard - 1.22 litres - of wine per day. If the residents behaved in an unruly manner, water was mixed with the wine as a punishment. If such behaviour went too far, the wine ration was canceled. Since 1334 270 acres of the best vineyard land around the city of Würzburg belong to the Bürgerspital. The wines show more minerality than opulence in character reflecting the characteristics of the excellent Würzburger vineyard sites. Today, 750 elderly residents live at eight facilities belonging to the Bürgerspital

12:00 pm Lunch at Restaurant Weinstuben Bürgerspital.

Pictures: Steak Tartare at Weingut Bürgerspital

03:15 pm Arrival, cellar tour, vineyards tour, and tasting at winery Rudolf Fürst (VDP) in Bürgstadt, Franken.

The Miltenberg basin in the western tip of Franken between the forested hills of the Odenwald and the Spessart, where Bürgstadt is located, provides ideal climatic conditions for first-class viticulture. The weathered colored sandstone of the Centgrafenberg vineyard in Bürgstadt and the extremely steep slopes of the Schlossberg vineyard in Klingenberg are home to the most extraordinary Früh-and Spätburgunder (Pinot Noir précos and Pinot Noir) produced by Paul Fürst and his son Sebastian. The Fürst family has been producing wine in this area since 1638. In addition to the reds, brilliant white wines such as Riesling, Weissburgunder and Franken’s signature wine, Silvaner are also produced here.

06:45 pm Back in Würzburg.

Dinner on your own.

08:00 pm Imperial Hall in the Würzburg Residence:

Concert as part of the Mozart Festival in Würzburg: Mozart and Magnard: Quintett for Piano and Wind Section; Poulenc: Sextett for Piano and Wind Section

DAY 8: Thursday, June 18

09:00 am Visit of the Würzburg Imperial Residence.

This imperial palace is one of the largest in Europe and one of the most homogeneous and most extraordinary Baroque castles. The palace was built in 1720 by the Prince Bishop, Johann Philip Franz von Schönborn who wanted to construct a residence worthy of his position as absolute monarch. In 1814 Würzburg became part of the Kingdom of Bavaria. The Bavarian king made Munich the capital and his residence. Thus Würzburg was no longer a center of power, but its splendor is still remarkable today.

12:30 pm Lunch (beverages on your own) at restaurant Zum Alten Rentamt in Schwaigern, Württemberg.

01:45 pm Visit and tasting at winery Graf Neipperg (VDP) in Schwaigern, Württemberg.

Proprietor Count Karl-Eugen zu Neipperg is a descendant of an Austrian / German noble line dating back to the Holy Roman Empire. Members of this dynasty always played important roles in European history and politics, and have been making wine since the 12th century. Today branches of the dynasty make wine in Germany, France, and Bulgaria. (During my tour to Bordeaux we will visit the estate of Karl-Eugen’s brother Stephan, the owner of Château Canon La Gaffelière in Saint-Emilion.) The Counts of Neipperg are said to have brought the Lemberger grape (in Austria: Blaufränkisch) to Germany in the 17th century. The Lemberger red wines in Württemberg can effortlessly achieve the caliber of its international counterparts as a deep-colored, full-bodied wine with powerful tannins. The estate’s focus is on the regions traditional grape varieties including the white specialities Muskateller and Traminer.

Pictures: Stephan von Neipperg, Château Canon-la-Gaffelière, with his Wife (see: Dinner at Château Canon La Gaffeliere, Appellation Saint-Emilion, Premier Grand Cru Classé, France), Karl Eugen Erbgraf zu Neipperg, Weingut des Grafen Neipperg, Schwaigern, Württemberg (see: Germany’s Best Winemakers and Wines – Gault Millau WeinGuide Deutschland 2015 Awards Ceremony in Mainz, Germany) and Annette Schiller at Prowein 2015

04:15 pm Visit and tasting at winery Dautel (VDP) in Bönnigheim, Württemberg.

Viticulture has been a tradition in the Dautel family since 1510. In 1995 Ernst Dautel was one of the first winemakers to age his red wines in barrique barrels, and to create red wine cuvées, a novelty in those days in Germany. The 27 acres of vineyards are planted with the traditional Württemberg grape varieties, Lemberger (Blaufränkisch in Austria), and Trollinger as well as with Pinot-Noir, Riesling, Chardonnay, and Pinot- Blanc. Today, son Christian, who is a graduate of the renowned Geisenheim oenological university, follows in his father’s footsteps farming the land organically and sharing his conviction that great wines can only be produced with meticulous work in the vineyard and a patient hands-off approach in the cellar.

06:45 pm Arrival and check-in at Romantikhotel Friedrich von Schiller in Bietigheim-Bissingen.

08:00 pm Wine pairing dinner at restaurant Friedrich von Schiller in Bietigheim-Bissingen. We will enjoy traditional, fresh cooked swabian dishes created with a modern twist by well-known Chef Burkhard Schork in this beautiful gourmet restaurant.

Picture: Owner Regine Schork, Romantik Hotel und Restaurant Zum Schiller and Annette Schiller at Prowein 2015, see: Prowein 2015 in Düsseldorf, Germany – Schiller’s Impressions

DAY 9: Friday, June 19

10:00 am Visit and tasting at winery Herzog von Württemberg (VDP) at Schloss Monrepos in Ludwigsburg, Württemberg.

The art of winemaking at the House of Württemberg goes back to the 13th century. With 100 acres under vine it is the largest privately owned winery in Württemberg. Their vineyard sites are in the most prestigious parcels in Württemberg and tasting the Herzog von Württemberg portfolio is a high-class journey through the best of the best that the Württemberg wine region has to offer. Owner is H.R.H. Carl Herzog von Württemberg and he makes sure that old tradition and modern knowledge go hand in hand to produce outstanding wines. In 1981 a new, modern winery was constructed in the romantic park of the beautiful Castle Monrepos, the royal family of Württemberg’s lakeside weekend and hunting retreat.

12:00 pm Lunch (beverages on your own) at restaurant Gutsschänke at Schloss Monrepos.

02:00 pm Visit and tasting at winery Rainer Schnaitmann (VDP) in Fellbach, Württemberg.

For over 500 years the Schnaitmann family has been making wine in the Rems and Neckar valleys. The 1997 vintage was the first one that Rainer Schnaitmann produced under his own name. In 2000 the winery was certified as organic winegrowing estate according to the EEC regulation on ecological winemaking. With 60 acres of vineyards, this winery belongs to the larger estates in Württemberg. Schnaitmann definitely helped putting Württemberg back on the map for the serious wine aficionado. To make your palate watering, I quote tasting notes by Rudi Wiest: “In the glass this Lemberger is an elegant deep violet red. The nose is nice and open revealing ripe cherries, blackberries, licorice and vanilla. The fine minerality shows some flinty notes and spices of bay leaf, juniper and fresh ground black pepper round out this Lemberger’s complex flavor spectrum. Juicy on the palate, the fruit sweetness is delicate with a refreshing minerality and balanced acidity and tannin structure.”

Picture: Rainer Schnaitmann and his Wife, Weingut Schnaitmann, with Annette Schiller at Prowein 2015, see:Prowein 2015 in Düsseldorf, Germany – Schiller’s Impressions

04:45 pm Arrival and check-in at Hotel Royal in Stuttgart.

07:00 pm Theater Stuttgart, Stuttgart Ballet Company.

"A Streetcar named Desire", Ballet in two parts by John Neumeier based on the play by Tennessee Williams. Music by Sergej Prokofjew and Alfred Schnittke. World Premiere at the Stuttgart Ballet on December 3, 1983.

DAY 10: Saturday, June 20

11:45 am Visit, tasting, and wine pairing lunch at winery Simon-Bürkle in Zwingenberg, Hessische Bergstrasse.

This is a very young winery by German standards. It was founded in 1991 by two friends who shared a common devotion to and philosophy of winemaking. The late Kurt Simon and the late Wilfried Buerkle met during their studies at the Weinsberg Viticultural School, and upon completion of their studies they decided to start a winery. Their obsession with quality brought the winery to the top of what the Bergstrasse has to offer. After the untimely death of Kurt Simon in 2003, his wife Dagmar continued his work together with Wilfried Bürkle. In 2013 Wilfried Buerkle passed away and many asked what will become of this winery without the two founding shakers and movers. Wilfried’s son Johannes studied winemaking and together with Dagmar Simon they continue the legacy. In the just released Gault & Millau 2015: "This year again no other winery at the Hessische Bergstrasse produced wines showing the pronounced characteristics of the different grape varieties and vineyards in this way."

This visit will be the fitting finale of our discovery tour through unknown German wine territory and another example of the stunning qualities produced throughout Germany.

02:15 pm Departure.

03:00 pm Arrival at Frankfurt International Airport.

schiller-wine: Related Postings

4 Wine Tours by ombiasy coming up in 2015: Germany-East, Germany-South. Germany-Nord and Bordeaux

Coming-up: Wine & Art Tour to Saale-Unstrut - Saxony - Franken - Württemberg: Germany-East Tour by ombiasy WineTours (June 11 - June 20, 2015)

Germany-North Wine Tour by ombiasy, 2014

Germany-South Wine Tour by ombiasy, 2014

Prowein 2015 in Düsseldorf, Germany – Schiller’s Impressions

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