Thursday, June 16, 2016

Germany-East Tour 2016 by ombiasy WineTours: Wine, Art, Culture and History

Picture: In Meissen, Saxony, with Winemaker/ Owner Georg Prinz zur Lippe, Weingut Schloss Proschwitz, Prinz zur Lippe

The Germany-East Tour 2016 by ombiasy WineTours: Wine, Art, Culture and History took place from May 12 to May 20, 2016. This posting provides a summary of the tour; further postings will cover individual events.

We explored Germany’s wine regions Saale-Unstrut, Sachsen, Franken and Württemberg and Germany’s intellectual and cultural cradle in “Mitteldeutschland”. We spent 9 days touring 4 wine regions, indulging in first-class wines, art, culture, lots and lots of fascinating history, and attended performances at world-renowned concert and opera houses (Gewandhaus Orchester Leipzig and Semperoper Dresden).

Annette Schiller in her announcement: “This tour allows wine lovers and aficionados of the arts to experience what the statement “wine is a form of art” entails. We will live the profound relationship between wine, music, dance, and visual arts by visiting Germany’s beautiful, lesser known wine regions, and the region which is the cradle of German culture, and intellectual thinking. We meet winemakers who embody the "wine and art" approach right at their wineries, and we will attend four world-class concert-opera-, and ballet performances in East-and Middle Germany. This tour will tickle all your senses and emotions.”

And indeed: this tour was a feast for all of our senses. My fellow travelers will certainly second my statement. All the wines we tasted were gorgeous, in particular spectacular Pinot-Blancs in Sachsen and Saale-Unstrut; the hospitality of the winemakers / owners was heartwarming, the art, and the cultural heritage sights we saw were absolutely amazing, our intellectual capacity was teased to grasp the complexity of European and German history through the personal background family stories some of the wine estate owners shared with us, the concerts, opera, and ballet performances all were breathtakingly beautiful and very emotional.

4 German Wine Regions

We visited a total of 19 wineries in 4 different wine regions:

Saale-Unstrut, the northernmost German wine region and former GDR territory. It is situated on the hillsides lining the Saale and Unstrut rivers and produces racy white wines from many white grape varieties; (see also: Schiller's Favorite Winemakers in the Saale Unstrut Region, Germany)

Sachsen, also 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. 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; (see also:
Schiller's Favorite Winemakers in Sachsen (Saxony), Germany)

Franken with its Bavarian charm and gorgeous, crisp, crystal clear wines from their signature grape Silvaner;

Württemberg, Germany’s premier red wine region with hearty, bold wines made from grapes like Lemberger (Blaufränkisch in Austria), and Trollinger. This is the region where wine is ingrained in daily life like nowhere else. The Württemberg region has the highest per capita consumption of wine in Germany.

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. However, the two regions in the former GDR had a lot of catching up to do. During the communist times from 1945 until reunification in 1989, wine production was nationalized, and winemaking took place in huge VEB (volkseigener Betrieb / company owned by the people) wineries. The output, the bottle count was imposed on the VEB by the State, and therefore quality could not play a major role. The winemaking process was deprived of modern farming and cellar techniques. The majority of wine produced was for the consumption of the communist party members. After the iron curtain came down, family wineries were founded, and the winemakers pursued quality with a vengeance. Some of Germany’s finest Pinot Blanc and Pinot Gris today come from the Saale-Unstrut and Sachsen regions.

Germany-East 2016 by ombiasy WineTours

DAY 01: Thursday, May 12

09:30 am Departure from Frankfurt to the Saale Unstrut wine regio.

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). This is a historic wine producing region. Cistercian monks came from Burgundy and planted the first vines more than 1000 years ago. The oldest record of viticulture dates back to the year 998 during the reign of Emperor Otto III.

01:00 pm Lunch at restaurant Altes Brauhaus in Weissenfels.

02.15 pm Visit of the Schlossmuseum Weissenfels.

Weissenfels is a beautiful barock town. During GDR times it was famous for its shoe production.

04:00 pm Tasting at winery Lützkendorf in Bad Kösen, Saale-Unstrut.

Owner/winemaker Uwe Lützkendorf was our host.

The winery Lützkendorf was founded at the dawn of the 19th century and existed until 1959 when the GDR authorities nationalized the property and 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, revamped the vineyards, 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 terroir.

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. To listen to him, and also to his fellow winemakers in this former GDR area, recounting their stories of reviving an economic and agriculture waste land after German reunification, is living history and worthy of a spy thriller.

07:00 pm At Hotel Zur Alten Schmiede in Naumburg.

Hotel Zur Alten Schmiede in Naumburg is a 3 star, elegant hotel in the center of historic Naumburg in walking distance to the famous cathedral. In the evening we explored the quaint historic town of Naumburg. We stopped by the house of the Nietzsche family, where the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche spent his childhood.

DAY 02: Friday, May 13

09:00 am Visit of the Naumburg Cathedral.

This impressive late Romanesque and Gothic Cathedral is one of the most important cultural monuments of the High Middle Age period in all of Europe. The ensemble of Romanesque and Gothic artwork in the cathedral is unique and gives the visitor an understanding of middle age liturgy found nowhere else. World-renowned are the “Naumburger Meister”, the stonemasons that sculptured beautiful figures such as the donor portrait of Uta von Naumburg.

10:30 am Guided tour of the Hildebrandt organ in the St. Wenzels church in Naumburg.

Florian Zschucke, the organist, was our host. He explained the organ to us and gave a short organ concert.

The 1746 Hildebrandt Organ in St. Wenzel’s Church in Naumburg, is the best example of a “true Bach organ” and belongs to the most significant creations of late baroque organ building. The organ of 52 stops was built by Zacharias Hildebrandt under the influence of Johann Sebastian Bach. Bach made sure that this organ corresponds to his idea of an excellent large organ. He examined the organ, certified that Hildebrandt’s work was good, and played the finish organ. In 1748 Bach’s son in law became the organist at the St. Wenzel’s church.

11:45 am Visit, tasting, and lunch at winery Hey in Naumburg, Saale-Unstrut.

Matthias Hey was our host.

This is an up and coming winery recognized for its stellar Rieslings and white wine cuvées. It all started in 2001, well after German reunification when Sigrun and Reinhard Hey bought a once exquisite vineyard in the steep slope site “Naumburger Steinmeister” including the farmhouse at the foot of the vineyard. With dedication the totally overgrown vineyard was reclaimed by removing blackberry bushes that had almost suffocated 80 year old vines, rebuilding the terraces, and planting new vines. Today the Hey winery possesses 13 acres of top vineyards. Son Matthias, who graduated from the enological university in Geisenheim in 2008 is now at the helm and puts the emphasis on top quality and the uniqueness of the region. He is also member of the “Breitengrad 51”, an association of young winemakers of the Saale-Unstrut region. Their aim is to produce Saale-Unstrut Rieslings of world-class quality and to put the region on the map as top wine producing cultural heritage destination.

02:30 pm Tasting at winery Pawis in Freyburg-Zscheiplitz, Saale-Unstrut

Markus Pawis was our host. Bernhard Pawis and his wife Kerstin greeted us.

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 Premium Winemakers with only about 200 members.

04:30 pm At Victor’s Residenz Hotel in Leipzig.

Victor’s Residenz Hotel in Leipzig is a 4 star modern hotel in a beautifully restored late 19th century building.

08:00 pm Gewandhaus Leipzig: Concert with the full Gewandhaus orchestra conducted by Sir John Eliot Gardiner: Johannes Brahms, Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, Robert Schumann.

DAY 03: Saturday, May 14

10:15 am Visit of Torgau - established in 973 - the beautiful Renaissance town and so called “wet nurse” of reformation.

This town played a significant role in establishing the protestant movement in Germany. In 1544 Martin Luther inaugurated the Schlosskirche in Torgau as first protestant church. It was in the Nikolai Church in Torgau where for the first time baptizing was done using the German language; the town council of Torgau expelled begging monks, and one for the councilors was responsible for freeing nine nuns at Nimbschen. Among them was Katharina von Bora, who later became Luther´s wife. In 1552 Katharina Luther tried to escape from the plague in Wittenberg, and there was a road accident in which she was injured. She died in Torgau and is buried in St. Mary´s Church. We visited the exhibit “Schätze einer Fürstenehe” in Schloss Hartenfels in Torgau, one of the most impressive castles of Germany.

We also visited the place where the World War II link up of the Allied and Soviet Forces occured. just outside of Thorgau.

12:30 pm Lunch at the Historisches Restaurant Vincenz Richter in Meissen

Weingut Vincenz Richter is one of the leading wine makers in Saxony. It is family-owned in the fifth generation by Thomas and Heike Herrlich. The family also owns and runs since 1873 the Vincenz Richter Restaurant, which is right in the middle of Meissen.

We were joined for part of our lunch by  Gottfried Herrlich, the senior boss, who talked to us about "Wine and Music".

03:00 pm At the Welcome Parkhotel in Meissen.

Welcome Parkhotel in Meissen is a beautiful 4 star hotel built in 1870 in the art nouveau style with a stunning view across the Elbe River to the Meissen Cathedral and the Albrechtsburg.

The mighty Albrechtsburg is a late Gothic castle built in the 15th century, and Germany’s oldest castle. It sits majestically on a rock above the Elbe river and presents together with the cathedral of Meissen a gorgeous panorama. Later the castle was superseded by the Dresden castle as the new seat of the Wettin dynasty which eventual produced the kings of Saxony and Poland. It was here where the King Augustus II the Strong of Saxony established the first European Porcelain manufacture in 1710 under the supervision of Johann Friedrich Böttger. The world-famous Meissen porcelain was produced at the Albrechtsburg until 1863, when the location became too small and the manufacture moved to its present location in Meissen.

04:30 pm Visit and tasting at winery Schloss Proschwitz, Prinz zur Lippe in Zadel, Sachsen.

Georg Prinz zur Lippe was our host for the afternoon and the evening.

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.

06:30 pm Dinner at Lippe’sches Gutshaus, Schloss Proschwitz.

We had dinner with Georg Prinz zur Lippe at the Lippe’sche Gutshaus.

The regional, fresh cuisine with a sophisticated twist – a perfect pairing with the Schloss Proschwitz wines - received the Chaîne des Rôtisseurs award in 2011.

DAY 04: Sunday, May 15

09:45 am Tour of the Porzellanmanufaktur in Meissen.

Just across the street of the porzelain manufacure, you were reminded of the GDR days.

11:15 am Tasting at winery Tim Strasser/Rothes Gut in Meissen, Sachsen.

Owner/Winemaker Tim Strasser was our host.

This is a very young winery, established in 2010 by Tim Strasser. Tim learned how to make wine at Schloss Wackerbarth, the Saxon government owned winery in Radebeul. He was then the youngest graduate ever. He further studied wine technology and enology and worked in Austria to gain experience before he took the big jump and established his own winery. He now has 26 acres of vineyard planted with Müller-Thurgau, Grauburgunder, Traminer, Scheurebe, and the Saxon speciality Goldriesling und Helios. The clay-loam-loess soil and the mild climate provides Tim with excellent conditions for healthy vines and fruit. He invested in modern cellar technology and makes sure that every step in the growing, harvesting, and winemaking process is done with utter care to guarantee top quality wines.

01:45 pm Lunch with wine pairing at winery Drei Herren in Radebeul, Sachsen.

Restaurant Manager/ Sommelier Dirk Brauer was our host.

This winery is one of the youngest in all of Germany. It was officially inaugurated in 2005. In 2002 art historian Prof. Dr. Rainer Beck purchased the estate and step by step he built up the wine estate. He always had a passion for wine; after all he can trace back his roots on his father’s side to a family with viticulture tradition. There were three founding partners – hence the name: Drei Herren (Three Gentlemen). The second one was Claus Höhne, a winemaker from Radebeul who is still the vineyard manager and winemaker and a third gentleman who dropped out. In 2005 Antje Wiedemann, the saxon wine queen and later German wine princess, joined the team and the team decided to keep the name of the estate although now the ownership consists of two men and one women. Some justification came with her last name: it ends with “mann”, which means “gentleman”. Since the beginning great care was given to the quality of the wines and every year the portfolio gets high remarks in the German wine critic circles. Wine and art is closely intertwined at this estate. The beautiful historic rooms of the winery houses a gallery of modern art – art and wine are perfectly celebrated here.

04:15 pm At INNSIDE Hotel in Dresden.

Hotel INNSIDE in Dresden is an ultra-modern 4 star hotel with innovative design right in the historic city center with the Twist Sky Bar on the 6th floor that allows for great views of the dome of the recently rebuilt Frauenkirche.

07:00 pm Semperoper Dresden: “Mathis der Maler” by Paul Hindemith.

DAY 05: Monday, May 16

10:30 am Tasting at winery Klaus Zimmerling in Oberpoyritz, Sachsen.

In 1992, shortly after reunification, Klaus Zimmerling 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 heartwarming 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.

12:30 pm Lunch at the winery Lutz Müller, Schloss Albrechtsburg, Sachsen.

Lutz Müller was our host.

The winery is situated in the vineyards of the Albrechtsberg castle on the hillside with great views of the Elbe river, and Dresden. Castle Albrechtsberg was built for Prince Albrecht of Prussia (1809-1872). The winery Lutz Müller came into being through the passion of Lutz’s parents. They loved wine and as a hobby they started to make wine in Pillnitz. Lutz shared the passion and decided to make it a profession. He studied winemaking at the government owned winery in Radebeul and later gained a lot of experience while working at the Castell winery in the Franken wine region, at wineries in the Mosel and Baden region as well as in California. In 2000 he and his parents had the opportunity to renovate the dilapidated Kavaliershaus of Schloss Albrechtsburg and to build a winery. Today parcels in the top vineyard sites „Dresdner Elbhang“ und „Pillnitzer königliche Weinberge“ belong to Lutz Müller.

04:00 pm Visit of the Royal Palace 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, when the Nazi regime came into power, Dresden was Europe’s capital of modern art. The allied bombings during the night of February 13, 1945 at the end of World War II wiped out the city. During GDR times very few of the most important historical monuments were restored. After reunification restauration efforts intensified, and major reconstruction projects, including rebuilding the “Frauenkirche”, were completed. The restoration of the Royal Palace is about to be completed.

We visited the “Türckische Cammer” (Turkish Chamber). This is one of the oldest and most important collections of Ottoman art anywhere in the world outside Turkey. The largest object in the Türckische Cammer, which opened in 2010, is an Ottoman three-mast tent – a 20 m long, 8 m wide and 6 m high dream made of gold and silk. Only in Dresden is it possible for visitors to enter such a tent and examine the supreme craftsmanship of Ottoman textile artists at close quarters.

We also visited the “Historisches Grünes Gewölbe” (Historic Green Vault), to get a glimpse into the late baroque world of the Saxon royals. The Green Vault was reopened on the ground floor in 2006. From 1723 to 1730, August the Strong had a series of rooms constructed to represent his wealth and power as an absolute monarch; the full, incredible experience of this late baroque synthesis of the arts is once again available to visitors in the original rooms.

The day ended in a nice, cosy wine bar in the Dresden Neustadt.

DAY 06: Tuesday, May 17

9:00 am Drive to Franken

10:00 am Visit of the Deutsch-Deutsches Museum Mödlareuth, Töben.

We experienced recent German history. We saw here how the border between West Germany and the GDR affected people on both sides of the fence. This small town of a population of 50 souls was divided just like Berlin. The tiny river Tannbach became the official border when Germany was divided up into 4 sectors after WW II. Unfortunately the Tannbach river happens to flow just through the middle of town, so one side of the river belonged to the American sector, which later became together with the French and British sector the Bundesrepublik Deutschland, and the other side belonged to the Soviet sector, which eventually became the GDR. In 1952 the GDR started to construct a 3.60 meter high wall, and watch towers. Until 1989 the divided families could not even greet each other or wave.

01:00 pm Arrival in Bayreuth, lunch at the Wagner Museum Café.

01:30 pm Visit of the Wagner museum.

After many years of renovation “Wahnfried” the home of Richard and Cosima Wagner, is again open for visitors, and houses the Wagner museum. We will visit the 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.”

04:30 pm Arrival in Volkach, Franken. At the Romatikhotel Zur Schwane.

This hotel has a more than 600 year history of catering to guests. It was in 1404 that the Schwan family founded this hotel across from the village church.

05:00 pm Vineyard tour, cellar tour and tasting at winery Zur Schwane in Volkach, Franken.

General Manager/ Winemaker Christian Kallisch was our host. He took us on a tour to the vineyards, the new production facility, the old cellar at the hotel and the tasting area of the hotel. We stopped 3 times for tastings: At the new production facility, the cellar (from barrel) and in the tasting room. Finally, we had more Zur Schwane wines for dinner at the Zur Schwane Restaurant.

Shortly after the Schwan family established the hotel they started their own winery. In the 1930s the Pfaff family purchased the properties and today the winery and hotel/restaurant are owned and managed by Eva Pfaff-Düker and Ralph Düker.

For more than 2000 years grapes have thrived on the shell-limestone slope along the bend of the Main River and the Dükers honor the long tradition by respecting the soil and natural environment. They see every vineyard and each wine as individual and practice a supervised “hand off” approach to allow the wines to develop with as little interfering as possible. 50% of their vineyards is planted with Franken’s signature grape “Silvaner”.

08:00 pm Dinner at restaurant Zur Schwane.

This restaurant is renowned for its outstanding cuisine and its fabulous wine list showcasing the best of Franken.

DAY 07: Wednesday, May 18

10:00 am Vinyard tour, cellar tour and tasting at winery Horst Sauer in Eschendorf, Franken.

Horst Sauer was our host.

Horst Sauer made his first wine in 1977, the birth year of his daughter. Since then he has become one of Germany’s truly exceptional winemakers. Today his daughter, who finished her viticultural studies at the Geisenheim Viticultural University, is the cellar master. Fantastic dry wines are produced at this estate mainly from Silvaner, but also from Riesling, Müller-Thurgau, Pinot Blanc and Pinot Noir. Besides dry wines Horst Sauer is known for lusciously sweet specialities. To get a glimpse into his philosophy of winemaking I will quote him here: “The start of a great wine lies in the winemaker’s imagination. I use to keep close watch on nature. Each year is different. The experiences we made in the past change our view and our range of options. You have to consider carefully when to influence, to control, to improve, and to enhance. And you have to find out at which point control becomes manipulation. Each wine has only one spring, one summer, one autumn, and one ripening season. Once you become aware of this fact, you know what it means to be patient. Only those who have a vision will find the way to their goal.”

12:30 pm At Hotel Greifensteiner Hof in Würzburg.

Hotel Greifensteiner Hof in Würzburg is an old-world style 4 star hotel in the historic center of beautiful Würzburg.

01:00 pm Lunch at restaurant Fränkische Stuben in the Greifensteiner Hof.

03:00pm Vineyard tour, cellar tour and tasting at winery Schmitt’s Kinder in Randersacker, Franken.

Martin Johann Schmitt was our host.

The Schmitt family can trace back its viticulture roots to the year 1712. The name Schmitt’s Kinder (children) came into being in 1910 when a group of heirs -after the early death of their parents- decided to operate the estate together instead of dividing it. Today the 9th , Karl Martin and Renate Schmitt and the 10th generation, Martin Johann Schmitt, of the founding family manages the estate which has 35 acres of vineyard of which 30% is planted with Silvaner, the Franken signature grape. The Schmitts produce top quality, dry wines and their 2012 Grand Cru Randersacker Sonnenstuhl Spätburgunder (Pinot Noir) just won 2. place at a Feinschmecker (the best German wine and gourmet magazine) competition. At this winery the happy relationship between wine and art comes alive. The painter Andi Schmitt has his studio in the historic baroque estate in the town center and his and some artist friend’s works can be seen in the tasting room at the new winery.

05:00 pm Departure and drive back to Würzburg.

In the evening we discovered beautiful Würzburg. We walked to the Alte Mainbrücke with stunning views of the Marienberg Fortress on the hill across the Main river.

DAY 08: Thursday, May 19

09:00 am Cellar tour and tasting at Staatlicher Hofkeller (VDP) in Würzburg, Franken.

General Manager Marcel von den Benken was our host.

This is the oldest winery in all of Germany. Its beginnings can be traced back to an endowment by the bishop of Würzburg in 1128. Before secularization the winery was owned by the ruling Prince Bishop and named “Fürstbischöflicher Hofkeller”. After secularization during Napoleonic times Würzburg became part of the Kingdom of Bavaria and the winery’s new owner was the ruling Bavarian king. Hence the winery was renamed “Königlich Bayerischer Hofkeller”. When the monarchy was abolished in 1918 after WW I the winery became property of the newly created State of Bavaria and renamed “Staatlicher Hofkeller Würzburg”. This is a very unique winery- since its beginnings 900 years ago it has never been sold; it has always been owned by the current sovereign in uninterrupted succession. The winery is right next to the Würzburg Residence and the cellars are under the north and south wings of the Residence. The cellars are vast with a surface area of 4,500 square meters and a length of 900 meters. With 296 acres under vine it is Germany’s 3rd largest winery with holdings in the most renowned sites of Franken. The appeal of the wines lies in their fascinating diversity.

10:45 am Departure from Würzburg and drive to Württemberg.

12:15 pm Vineyard tour, cellar tour, lunch and tasting at winery Fürst Hohenlohe Öhringen in Öhringen–Verrenberg, Württemberg.

General Manager/ Winemaker Joachim Brand was our host.

As Germany’s the oldest family owned business, the Hohenlohe-Öhringen family can look back to the year 1253 as the founding year of their viticulture history. The 27th generation is now at the helm and today they manage 42 acres of the solely owned site Verrenberger Verrenberg. The vineyard is panted with the traditional Württemberg varietals Lemberger, and Riesling, and also with Spätburgunder, some Weissburgunder and Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Franc. Since 2008 the vineyards have been cultivated according to organic guidelines. The goal is to produce distinctive wines that not only expresses varietal character, but also that of their origin. Their 2013 Riesling Trockenbeerenauslese was awarded the Gold Medal at the 2015 Decanter World Wine Awards. This estate was the pioneer in creating cuvées in Württemberg. More than 20 years ago Siegfried Röll, their winemaker in those days, toured Bordeaux and on the long drive back home he began wondering why they did not produce a Bordeaux type blend at home. He blended the local variety Lemberger with traditional Bordeaux grapes Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot and voilà this cuvée came out beautifully. This was in 1986. They named the cuvée "Ex Flammis Orior" after the inscription on the family coat of arms. We had the pleasure drinking the fabulous 2008 "Ex Flammis Orior" during last year's wine tour when Burkhard Schork, chef of the wonderful gourmet restaurant 'Schiller's', spoiled us with this bottle during dinner.

After a glass of Sekt, we started with a short vineyard walk, followed by lunch.

We then toured the wine cellar and sat down for an extraordinary tasting.

03:15pm Tour and tasting at Staatsweingut Weinsberg in Weinsberg, Württemberg.

Kyle Frank from the Dr. Frank Estate in the Finger Lakes Region is an intern at Staatsweingut Weinsberg and was our host.

The state winery Weinsberg is a department of the Government of Baden-Wuerttemberg. The winery is part of a state teaching, research, and experimental estate for pomology and viticulture. It was founded in 1868 as the "Royal School of Viticulture” under King Charles I of Württemberg and is Germany’s oldest viticultural school. Among the initiators was Immanuel August Ludwig Dornfeld, the grape “Dornfelder”, which was bred here in 1955 by August Herold is named after him. Today, between 30 to 50 students are at the school with the aim to become a Weinbautechniker (vocational winemaker training). The school also trains coopers. As for research, new recent grape varieties developed here include Acolon, Cabernet Dorio, Cabernet Dorsa, Cabernet Mitos, Dornfelder, Kerner, and Silcher. Staatsweingut Weinsberg has 40 hectares of vines, some of which are planted in the estate’s solely owned Weinsberger Schemelsberg and Abstatter Burg Wildeck. Riesling, Lemberger and Pinots dominate. Our focus during this visit is on the cultivation of new varietals, which is a topic seldom addressed elsewhere.

05:30 am At Weingut Graf von Bentzel-Sturmfeder.

Weingut Graf von Bentzel-Sturmfeder is a historic, beautiful winery with guest rooms, where we spent the night.

05:45 am Cellar tour and tasting at winery Graf von Bentzel-Sturmfeder in Schozach, Württemberg.

Kilian Graf von Bentzel-Sturmfeder was our host.

This winery can look back to more than 600 years of history. It came into being when Count Eberhard von Württemberg gave Knight Friedrich Sturmfeder a piece of land in the forest of Schozach in fief for his services to him. The estate in Schozach sits in the midst of an ideal wine-growing terrain, the excellent quality of which was discovered centuries ago. Current owner is Kilian Graf von Bentzel-Sturmfeder, a trained winemaker who took over in 1996, the 600th anniversary of the property. He says: „My philosophy is easily explained. The vineyard is the origin, in which the treasure is sought and unearthed with all efforts at the right harvesting time. Healthy, essence-rich grapes are vinified into varietal wines or presented in a composition of a cuvée.”

08:00 pm Dinner in a local restaurant with Kilian Graf von Bentzel-Sturmfeder.

DAY 09: Friday, May 20

09.45 am After breakfast we drove back to Frankfurt. Before leaving we took a vineyard tour.

Postings: Germany-East Tour 2016 by ombiasy WineTours: Wine, Art, Culture and History (Published and Forthcoming Postings)

Germany-East Tour 2016 by ombiasy WineTours: Wine, Art, Culture and History

Tasting at Weingut Lützkendorf in Bad Kösen, Saale-Unstrut, with Uwe Lützkendorf

Vinyard Walk and Wine Pairing Lunch at Weingut Hey in Naumburg, Saale-Unstrut, with Matthias Hey

Tasting at Weingut Pawis in Freyburg-Zscheiplitz, Saale-Unstrut, with Marcus Pawis

Schiller's Favorite Winemakers in the Saale Unstrut Region, Germany

Wine and Music: Lunch with Gottfried Herrlich at Restaurant Vincenz Richter in Meissen

Visit, Tasting and Dinner at Weingut Schloss Proschwitz, Prinz zur Lippe in Zadel, Sachsen, with Georg Prinz zur Lippe

Tasting at Weingut Tim Strasser/Rothes Gut in Meissen, Sachsen, with Tim Strasser

Wine Pairing Lunch at Weingut Drei Herren in Radebeul, Sachsen

Visit of Weingut Klaus Zimmerling: The Wines of Klaus Zimmerling and the Art of his Wife Malgorzata Chodakoska - Germany-East Wine and Art Tour by ombiasy WineTours (2015)

Lunch at Weingut Lutz Müller, Schloss Albrechtsburg, Sachsen, with Lutz Müller

Schiller's Favorite Winemakers in Sachsen (Saxony), Germany

Vineyard tour, Cellar Tour, Tasting and Dinner at Weingut Zur Schwane in Volkach, Franken with Winemaker Christian Kallisch

Vinyard Tour, Cellar Tour and Tasting at Weingut Horst Sauer in Eschendorf, Franken, with Horst Sauer

Vineyard tour, Cellar Tour and Tasting at Weingut Schmitt’s Kinder in Randersacker, Franken, with Martin Johann Schmitt

Cellar Tour and Tasting at Staatlicher Hofkeller in Würzburg, Franken, with General Manager Marcel von den Benken

Schiller’s Favorites: 2 Legendary Wine Taverns in Würzburg – Juliusspital and Bürgerspital

Schiller’s Favorite Wine Taverns in Würzburg

Vineyard Tour, Cellar Tour, Lunch and Tasting at Weingut Fürst Hohenlohe Öhringen in Öhringen–Verrenberg,Württemberg with Winemaker Joachim Brand

Visit of Staatsweingut Weinsberg in Weinsberg, Württemberg, with Kyle Frank from the Finger Lakes

Cellar Tour, Vineyard Tour, Tasting and Dinner at Weingut Graf von Bentzel-Sturmfeder in Schozach, Württemberg, with Kilian Graf von Bentzel-Sturmfeder

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