Friday, August 7, 2015
Weingut Schloss Proschwitz, Prinz zur Lippe, in Zadel, Sachsen: Tour and Tasting with Prinz zur Lippe – Germany-East Wine and Art Tour by ombiasy WineTours (2015)
Weingut Schloss Proschwitz in Zadel is both the oldest and the largest privately owned wine producer in Saxony. Its owner, Prof. Dr. Georg Prinz zur Lippe, rebuilt the estate from scratch step by step, following the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.
We spent 7 hours with Prinz zur Lippe on the tour. We started with a couple of wines in the Weinbergshäuschen (a little house in the vineyard), overlooking the city of Meissen. From there, we moved to Schloss Proschwitz, where Prinz zur Lippe gave us a quick tour of the chateau. Next was the winery, where Prinz zur Lippe gave us a tour of winery, followed by an extensive tasting with Prinz zur Lippe in the tasting room of the winery.
The winery also has an excellent restaurant, the Lippe'sches Gutshaus, Schloss Proschwitz, where we had dinner; Prinz zur Lippe joined us for dinner. The dinner with Prinz zur Lippe will be covered in a separate posting.
Sachsen, located in the former GDR, is the easternmost German wine region and extends some 35 miles north and south of Dresden along the Elbe River. Most of the region’s vines are planted on terraces along the River Elbe, and being at such a gradient, a lot of the work is done by hand. For 8 centuries, vintners here have mostly planted Müller-Thurgau and Riesling, earning a well-deserved reputation for excellent dry whites.
Meissen porcelain, known locally as “white gold,” is one of the things Sachsen is best known for, being the first place in Europe to make china in the early 18th century.
Anette Schiller: This region tickles all your senses with its unique voluptuous baroque architecture, a rich history, its wealth of art, and love of all the good things in life.
The zur Lippe family was first mentioned in the early 12th century. The family belonged to the reigning dynasties in Europe until 1918. For more than 300 years, the family branch of Georg Prinz zur Lippe 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 zur Lippe 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 90 hectares under vine Weingut Proschwitz 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.
Thirteen grape varieties are grown on the estate: Pinot Gris 20%, Pinot Blanc 12%, Müller-Thurgau 11%, Elbling 8%, Pinot Noir 8%, Riesling 8%, Dornfelder 7%, Goldriesling 7%, Scheurebe 8%, Traminer and others.
Weingut Schloss Proschwitz also has a hotel and restaurant (the Lippe'sches Gutshaus). The family’s 18th-century palace hosts conferences and weddings.
The Communist Period and German Reunification
We began our afternoon and evening with Georg Prinz zur Lippe in the Weinbergshäuschen (a little house in the midst of the vineyard) overlooking Meissen and sipping a glass of his excellent Sekt. He dwelled extensively on the winery’s tumultuous history.
Before the 2. World War, the von Lippe family was one of the richest family in Saxony, with holdings in various sectors, including wine making. When the Soviet Red Army invaded eastern Germany in 1945, the parents of Georg Prinz zur Lippe were expropriated and imprisoned. Fortunately, although the communists hated royalty and routinely executed royals they captures, they were not murdered, but – after a period of imprisonment in Saxony - were able to leave to the western part of Germany. There, as a refugees without any means (lie so many others, including my parents), Christian Prinz zur Lippe had to start a new live. Initially, he took a job as a gardener. Obviously, his son, Georg Prinz zur Lippe was not raised in abashed luxury. Georg Prinz zur Lippe pursued a successful career as an agricultural engineer.
Then, the Berlin Wall fell. Christian Prinz zur Lippe suggested that Georg attempt to recover the family’s property in East Germany. But because the property had been expropriated by the Soviets – and not by East Germany during the GDR period – Georg Prinz zur Lippe did not benefit from the restitution law and did not get any of the assets back from the German Government. Instead, be borrow large sums of money and bought the former property back from the current owners. Eventually, he managed to buy back a large portion of the family’s original vineyards.
The story did not end there, however. Georg Prinz zur Lippe was not welcomed with open arms back to his ancestral home. In the minds of many East Germans, “the Georg Prinz zur Lippe family was still the incarnation of evil,” the Prince explained.
“People weren’t happy to see me and I got anonymous threats on the phone,” Georg Prinz zur Lippe said. “The callers said: ‘we got rid of our princes once, and we’ll do it again.’ My car tires were regularly slashed.”
Locals feared they would lose their homes, even though the German Government didn’t return properties seized under orders of Soviet leader Josef Stalin between 1945 and 1949 to former owners like the zur Lippe family.
Fortunately, the local resistance diminished over time, as Georg Prinz zur Lippe started to win the local people over. The sympathetic mayor of the town of Zadel offered to sell Georg Prince zur Lippe a courtyard of historic but dilapidated buildings for their winery. “Over the years a total of 800 people have come forward to sell us small parcels of land that was once ours” said Georg Prinz zur Lippe.
After extensive renovations, Georg Prinz zur Lippe opened a Weingut Schloss Proschwitz there, including a restaurant, where we had dinner with Georg Prinz zur Lippe. Weingut Schloss Proschwitz was the first in Sachsen to be admitted to the prestigious VDP, Germany’s association of about 200 elite winemakers.
After a few wines listening to Goerg Prinz zur Lippe about the tumultuous recent history of Weingut Schloss Proschwitz, we walked over to Schloss Proschwitz for a short tour of the chateau.
Cellar Tour at Weingut Schloss Proschwitz
From Schloss Proschwitz, we moved to Weingut Schloss Proschwitz, where the Prince gave us a cellar tour.
Tasting with Georg Prinz zur Lippe
We finished the cellar tour in Weingut Schloss Proschwitz’s tasting room, where Georg Prinz zur Lippe took us through the impressive portfolio of Weingut Schloss Proschwitz.
We tasted the following wines:
2012 Weingut Schloss Proschwitz Pinot Madeleine Sekt brut
2014 Weingut Schloss Proschwitz Elbling trocken VDP.Gutswein. The Elbing is an ancient and now-unpopular grape variety cultivated since Roman times.
2014 Weingut Schloss Proschwitz Weissburgunder trocken VDP.Gutswein
2014 Weingut Schloss Proschwitz Grauburgunder Kabinett trocken VDP.Gutswein
2014 Weingut Schloss Proschwitz Weissburgunder Spätlese trocken VDP.Gutswein
2011 Weingut Schloss Proschwitz Grauburgunder trocken VDP.Erste Lage
The winery also has an excellent restaurant, the Lippe'sches Gutshaus, Schloss Proschwitz, where we had dinner; Prinz zur Lippe joined us for dinner. The dinner with Prinz zur Lippe will be covered in a separate posting: Dinner with Georg Prinz zur Lippe at Weingut Schloss Proschwitz in Sachsen.
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