Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Germany-East Tour 2017 by ombiasy WineTours: Wine, Art, Culture, History

Picture: In the Cellar of Weingut Herzog von Württemberg (VDP) at Schloss Monrepos in Ludwigsburg, Württemberg, with Andrea Ritz, the Wine Queen of Württemberg

The Germany-East Tour 2017 by ombiasy WineTours: "Wine, Art, Culture and History - Germany's Undiscovered Wine Regions and World-renowned Art Centers" took place from June 9 to June 18, 2017. This posting provides a summary of the tour; further postings will cover individual events.

This tour allowed wine lovers and aficionados of the arts to experience what the statement “wine is a form of art” entails. We lived the profound relationship between wine, music, visual arts, history by visiting Germany’s beautiful, lesser known wine regions, and the region which is the cradle of German culture, and intellectual thinking. We met winemakers who embody the "wine and art" approach right at their wineries, and we attended world-class concert and opera performances.

We visited a total of 16 wineries (the majority are members of the VDP, the German association of elite wine makers) 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; and

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.

Saale-Unstrut/ Sachsen/ Franken/ Württemberg

Gewandhaus Orchester Leipzig/ Semperoper Dresden/ Mozartfestival Würzburg/ Ballet Stuttgart

DAY 01: Friday, June 9

09:00 am Meeting at Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof (Frankfurt Main Railway Station)

09:20 am Departure by train from Frankfurt to Naumburg in the Saale Unstrut Region. Our bus and chauffeur was waiting for us there to drive us for the rest of the tour and back to Frankfurt.

The Saale-Unstrut 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.

01:15 pm Wine tasting Lunch at Weingut Frölich-Hake in Naumburg-Rossbach, Saale-Unstrut

Sandra Hake was our host.

This is a very young winery by European standarts. It was founded in 1997 by Volker Frölich and Sandra Hake. Sandra Hake, grand-daughter of a winemaker, was fascinated with wine because of her family’s history. However, during GDR times, no one was involved in wine anymore. Sandra’s wine knowledge awarded her the crown of German Wine Queen in 1993. Volker Fröhlich was a trained farmer and when the two decided to start a winery he went back to school to learn everything there is to know about winemaking. Today the winery has 25 acres in top vineyard sites around Naumburg. Volker, the winemaker, is known for precision and keenness to produce only top quality wines. In 2016 the most important German wine and life style magazine “Der Feinschmecker” ranked winery Fröhlich-Hake number three of the Saale-Unstrut region.

Winery Frölich-Hake is also member of the “Breitengrad 51” group, 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.

04:00 pm Visit and tasting at winery Pawis (VDP) in Freyburg-Zscheiplitz, Saale-Unstrut

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.

06:15 pm Arrival and check-in at Hotel Zur Alten Schmiede in Naumburg.

Hotel Zur Alten Schmiede in Naumburg is a 4 star, elegant hotel in the center of historic Naumburg in walking distance to the famous cathedral.childhood.

We had the evening on our own to explore the quaint historic town of Naumburg.

DAY 02: Saturday, June 10

09:30 am Check-out at hotel.

10:00 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.

Some of us went the house of the Nietzsche family, where the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche spent his childhood.

12:00 am Concert and guided tour of the Hildebrandt organ in the St. Wenzels church in Naumburg.

We learned everything that there is to know about an organ from our expert guide, David Franke, who is the organist of the St.Wenzels church. 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.

01:15 pm Lunch at restaurant Ratskeller Naumburg on the market square in Naumburg just around the corner from the St. Wenzels church.

02:30 pm Departure from Naumburg.

03:00 pm Visit and tasting at Weingut Lützkendorf (VDP) in Bad Kösen, Saale-Unstrut.

Uwe Lützkendorf was our host.

Weingut 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.

06:00 pm Arrival at the INNSIDE Hotel in Leipzig.

Hotel INNSIDE in Leipzig is a 4 star ultra modern hotel in a beautifully restored late 19th century building just next to J.B. Bach’s famous Sankt Thomas Church, and the historic city center.

08:00 pm Gewandhaus Leipzig: Concert with the full Gewandhaus orchestra and the Monteverdi choir conducted by Sir John Eliot Gardiner: Johannes Brahms, Felix Mendelsohn-Bartholdi, Otto Nicolai, Richard Wagner

DAY 03: Sunday, June 11

09:15 am Check-out of hotel.

09:30 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, and poets, who lived and worked in Leipzig. We visited 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 also took a look at restaurant Auerbachs Keller, 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”. We also visited the Nikolai church, where the collapse of the communist systems in Eastern Europe and eventually the reunification of Germany began. For months 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.

12:00 pm Arrival in Torgau, - established in 973 - the beautiful Renaissance town and so called “wet nurse” of reformation, since it became the political center of reformation.

The year 2017 marks the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther nailing his 95 theses to the castle church door in Wittenberg, and we have to make a stop in Torgau, the town that played a significant role in establishing the protestant movement in Germany, and beyond. 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 will visit the 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.

01:00 pm Departure from Torgau and drive to Meissen.

02:15 pm Lunch with wine pairing at the Restaurant/ Winery Vincenz Richter in Meissen.

Thomas Herrlich was our host.

The winery and wine restaurant was founded in 1873 by Vincenz Anton Richter. It survived the GDR times and Thomas Herrlich (who married into the Richter family) is now the 4th generation of the founding family to manage the winery and the restaurant. The cozy restaurant is in a beautiful 500 year old half-timbered building in the historic city center of Meissen.

04:15 pm Arrival in Dresden, check-in 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: Opera: ”The Abduction from the Seraglio” by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

We took a stroll from our hotel to the Semperopera through the historic part of Dresden. We soaked in the magnificent architecture and views along the “Brühl Terraces” on the banks of the Elbe river.

DAY 04: Monday, June 12

09:30 am Departure and drive along the Elbe river to Oberpoyritz.

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

Theresa Siegmund was our host; Klaus Zimmerling excused himself for a VDP meeting in Meissen.

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 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.

12:15 pm Lunch im Wintergarten Café im 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.

02:30 pm Back at INNSIDE Hotel in Dresden.

05:00 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 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.

07:00 pm Wine tasting and some small bites at Winebar “Weinzentrale” in Dresden-Neustadt.

Jens Pietzonka was our host.

Owner Sommelier Jens Pietzonka, a well-known personality in the German wine scene, introduced us to the wines of Saxony. Jens Pietzonka’s career path took him to the most famous Michelin star restaurants, and he was “Sommelier of the Year” in 2014 (by lifestyle magazine Falstaff).

DAY 05: Tuesday, June 13

08:45 am Check out of Innside Hotel and departure from Dresden.

09:30 am Guided tour of Schloss Moritzburg.

Moritzburg Castle is a Baroque palace in Moritzburg, just a short ride north of Dresden. The castle has four round towers and lies on a symmetrical artificial island. It is named after Duke Moritz of Saxony, who had a hunting lodge built there between 1542 and 1546. The surrounding woodlands and lakes have been a favorite hunting area of the electors and kings of Saxony. The architecture and interior is another example of the splendor, wealth, and power of the Saxon kings.

11:30 am Visit and tasting at Weingut Martin Schwarz in Meissen, Sachsen.

Martin Schwarz was our host, with Sarah Riedel

Martin Schwarz belongs to the group of young, ambitious, up-and coming winemakers in Sachsen. Back in the days when sipping a 1975 Château Margaux on a park bench while skipping Latin classes at school he got hooked to the world of wine, and decided to make wine his profession. He interned at the VDP winery Dr. Heger in Baden to get some practical experiences under his belt. In 1996 he graduated from the famous Geisenheim Oenological University in the Rheingau. A prominent winery in Sachsen was looking for a cellar master and Martin took on that challenge. For 16 years he worked as winemaker at the VDP winery Schloss Proschwitz before he started out on his own in 2013. Today he owns 5 acres in one the best vineyards sites on the steep slopes of the Elbe river. His wines show a very individual character and convince with their complexity and finesse.

01:45 pm Lunch at Café und Restaurant Meissen (Porzellanmanufactur Meissen)

This restaurant is in the Museum of the porcelain manufacture Meissen. We had a 2 course typical Saxon meal served on exquisite Meissen china.

02:45 pm Guided tour of the Porzellanmanufaktur in Meissen.

It was at the Albrechtsburg – you can admire the castle from our hotel, which sits right across the river Elbe - 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.

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

04:30 pm Arrival and check-in 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 stunning views across the Elbe river to the Meissen Cathedral and the Albrechtsburg.

Enjoy the view across the Elbe river on the breathtakingly beautiful, historic city of Meissen with the mighty Albrechtsburg castle. The 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.

05:15 pm Visit, tasting, dinner at Weingut Schloss Proschwitz, Prinz zur Lippe (VDP) in Zadel, Sachsen.

Prinz Georg zur Lippe was our host.

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.

We started out in the vineyard with a beautiful view of Meissen.

We then moved to the castle and Prinz Georg zur Lippe gave us a tour of it.

Before dinner, we toured the winery.

The visit ended with a winepairing dinner at the 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.

DAY 06: Wednesday, June 14

10:30 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.

12:45 pm Arrival in Bayreuth and light lunch at the Museum Café.

01:15 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 visited 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.”

We stopped at the “Festspielhaus Bayreuth” (Bayreuth Festival Theater), the opera house dedicated solely to the performances of the operas of Richard Wagner.

04:45 pm Arrival at Romantikhotel Zur Schwane in Volkach.

Romantikhotel Zur Schwane is a romantic more than 600 year old 4 star hotel in Volkach, the heart of wine country Franken.

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. This beautiful hotel sits right in the center of the charming village of Volkach.

05:30 pm Visit and tasting at Weingut Horst Sauer (VDP) in Eschendorf, Franken.

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 Sandra, 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.”

07:45 pm Dinner at restaurant Zur Schwane in Volkach.

DAY 07: Thursday, June 15

09:30 am Cellar visit, vineyard visit, and tasting at Weingut Fürstlich Castell’sches Domänenamt in Castell, Franken.

Gernal Manager and Winemaker Björn Probst was our host.

The Fürstlich Castell’sches Domänenamt is one of the oldest wine estates in Germany. The vineyard sites were first mentioned in a document from 1266. The origins of the Castell family can be traced back to the year 1057. The Castell family was an influential force and reigned over a number of well-known places in Franconia. In 1901, the Count of Castell was promoted to the Prince of Castell, demonstrating the recognition of Castell by the royal family of Bavaria. Following World War II, Albrecht Prince of Castell-Castell – at the young age of 20 - took over the responsibility for the family and business side and developed – among other things – the Domänenamt to one of Germany’s largest private wineries, with 173 acres under vine in seven top vineyard sites; nearly all in sole ownership. All vineyards are situated on the slopes below the castle and are planted mainly with Silvaner (40%,), and Müller-Thurgau (21%). The Castell family was instrumental in introducing the Silvaner grape – originally from an area that is now Slovenia – to Franken in 1659. Today, Prince Castell is the head of the family, while his son Erbgraf Ferdinand (Hereditary Count) manages the winery and all other business ventures.

01:30 pm Wine pairing luncheon at restaurant Winzerhof Stahl in Auernhofen, Franken

Christian Stahl was our host and chef.

Winemaker Christian Stahl is also an excellent chef. On weekends, or for special guests he and his kitchen team prepare meals worthy of a Michelin star. He knows exactly which wines go well with which dish, so we will be in for a big treat.

With 3 out of 5 grapes in the Gault Millau WeinGuide Germany 2017, Winzerhof Stahl belongs to the elite of winemakers in Germany. Christian Stahl belongs to the generation of young, unconventional winemakers that stir up the establishment of the wine scene in Germany. When he took charge of his parent’s winery 10 years ago, the vineyard area totaled 2 hectares. Within a decade, he was able to grow the winery to 20 hectares of pristine vineyard sites. When Christian took over, the winery was not even mentioned in Germany’s wine guides. Within a decade, he received 3 grapes in Germany’s leading WineGuide. In 2012, Christian Stahl was Falstaff (the leading Austrian wine and life style magazine) Winemaker Newcomer of the Year 2012.

05:30 pm Arrival and check-in 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.

08:00 pm Mozartfestival in Würzburg: Concert with the Bamberger Symphoniker, and soprano Christiane Karg in the Kaisersaal of the Würzburg 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.

Mozart, Concert Aria KV 528; Rihm, “Lichtes Spiel – A Summer Piece for Violin and Small Orchestra”; Mendelssohn Bartholdy, Concert Aria op.94; Mozart, Sinfonie 41, CV-Dur KV 551 “Jupiter”

Following the concern we walked back to the hotel and discovered beautiful Würzburg at night, including the Alte Mainbrücke with stunning views of the Marienberg Fortress on the hill across the Main river.

DAY 08: Friday, June 16

10:45 am Cellar tour and tasting at Weingut 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. 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 beautiful historical cellars - which we will have the opportunity to visit-, with the old traditional wooden casks, are still in use for fermentation and aging.

 12:15 pm Lunch at wine tavern Juliusspital.

01:30 pm Departure from Franken and drive to the Württemberg wine region.

03:00 pm Cellar visit and tasting at Weingut Fürst Hohenlohe Öhringen (VDP) in Öhringen–Verrenberg, Württemberg.

General Manager and Winemaker Joachim Brand was our host.

As one of Germany’s oldest family owned businesses 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.

05:30 pm Arrival and check in at the guesthouse of Weingut Graf von Bentzel-Sturmfeder.

Weingut Graf von Bentzel-Sturmfeder is a historic winery with beautiful guest rooms.

06:00 pm Cellar visit, and tasting, at Weingut Graf von Bentzel-Sturmfeder (VDP) 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.”

Graf von Bentzel-Sturmfeder joined us for the dinner.

The following day, we quickly toured the vineyards.

DAY 09: Saturday, June 17

09:30 am Visit and tasting at winery Wachstetter (VDP) in Pfaffenhofen, Württemberg.

Rainer Wachstetter was our host, with father Roland Wachstetter and wife Anette Wachstetter.

The Wachstetter family have cultivated vines for generations. Since 1990 Rainer Wachstetter has been responsible for the winery and brought the estate to new heights. The 40 acres of vineyards are on the steep, south-facing slopes of the Heuchelberg near Pfaffenhofen. His goal is to produce unadorned wines that are unmistakable and authentic. The red wines (more than 50% of his production) age several months in oak casks and are unusually bottled unfiltered. His Lemberger (Blaufränkisch in Austria) always gets high remarks in wine competitions.

12:30 pm Wine pairing Lunch at 1 Michelin- starred restaurant Schloss Monrepos Ludwigsburg, Württemberg, with Chef Ben Benasr

The restaurant in the Schlosshotel Monrepos is nestled in a 251 acres park. The ensemble includes an elegant hotel and the Baroque lake palace, which was the royal family of Württemberg’s lakeside weekend and hunting retreat as well as the winery, a golf course, and an equestrian center.

The historic flair of the 150-year old building, and a new young kitchen team – assembled by the Finkbeiner family, who owns and runs the internationally known, and famous Traube-Tonbach with its 3 Michelin-star restaurant in Baiersbronn, guarantee for top notch quality.

02:30 pm Tour and tasting at Weingut Herzog von Württemberg (VDP) at Schloss Monrepos in Ludwigsburg, Württemberg.

Andrea Ritz, the Wine Queen of Württemberg, was our host.

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 Duke of 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, Michael, Duke of Württemberg, the winerie’s Managing Director is out of town.

04:00 pm Check-in at hotel Unger in Stuttgart

Hotel Unger in Stuttgart is  a modern 4 star hotel in the heart of the city, in walking distance to the Stuttgart theatre.

07:00 pm Theater Stuttgart, Stuttgart Ballet Company: “Romeo and Juliet”, Ballet in three parts by John Cranko based on the play by William Shakeaspeare. Music by Sergej Prokofjew. World Premiere at the Stuttgart Ballet on December 2, 1962.

DAY 10: Sunday, June 18

09:30 am Check out of hotel and departure

10:00 am Drive to Frankfurt.

12:30 pm Farewell Lunch at Restaurant Zum Zehnthof in Frankfurt.

Postings: Germany-East Tour 2017 by ombiasy WineTours: Wine, Art, Culture and History (Published and Forthcoming Postings)

Germany-East Tour 2017 by ombiasy WineTours: Wine, Art, Culture and History

Wine tasting Lunch at Weingut Frölich-Hake in Naumburg-Rossbach, Saale-Unstrut, with Sandra Hake

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

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

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

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

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)

Wine tasting Dinner at Winebar “Weinzentrale” in Dresden-Neustadt, with Owner/ Sommelier Jens Pietzonka 

Visit:Weingut Martin Schwarz in Meissen

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

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

Vineyard tour, Cellar Tour, Tasting and Dinner at Weingut Zur Schwane in Volkach, Franken

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

Vineyard tour, Cellar Tour and Tasting at Weingut Fürstlich Castell'sches Domänenamt, with General Manager/ Winemaker Björn Probst

Michelin-star Level Winepairing Dinner at Winzerhof Stahl, Franken, Prepared by Winemaker/ Chef Christian Stahl

Cellar Tour and Tasting at Weingut Juliusspital in Würzburg, Franken

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

Schiller’s Favorite Wine Taverns in Würzburg, Franken

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

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

Tour and Tasting at Weingut Wchstetter in Pfaffenhofen, Württemberg, with Rainer Wachtstetter

Lunch at Restaurant Schloss Monrepos Ludwigsburg, Württemberg, with Chef Ben Benasr (1 Sar Michelin)

Tour and Tasting at Weingut Herzog von Württemberg at Schloss Monrepos in Ludwigsburg, Württemberg, with Andrea Ritz, Wine Queen of Württemberg

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