Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Introduction: The Wines of Brandenburg and Berlin, Germany

Pictures: Annette and Christian Schiller with Marianne Ludes, Owner of Villa Jacobs in Potsdam. Villa Jacobs produces outstanding Frühburgunder

Brandenburg is one of the federal states that were re-created in 1990 upon the reunification of the former East Germany and West Germany. It lies in the northeast of the country covering an area of 29,478 square kilometers and has roughly 2.5 million residents. The capital and largest city is Potsdam. Brandenburg surrounds but does not include the national capital and city-state Berlin, which is a metropolitan area.

Pictures: Brandenburg and Berlin in Germany

Wine has been produced in Brandenburg since the Middel Ages and is being produced today, although only to a very limited extent. The wine production in Brandenburg accounts for 0.03 percent of Germany's total output. This is equivalent to about 30 percent of the production of Weingut Dr. Robert Weil in the Rheingau.

Wine is produced in Brandenburg in all three quality levels: Deutscher Wein, Landwein and Qualitätswein besonderer Anbaugebiete (mit Prädikat).

I toured Brandenburg and Berlin in June 2018 with the Weinfreundeskreis Hochheim, right before the Germany-East Tour 2018 by ombiasy WineTours: Wine, Art, Culture, History - Berlin, Saale-Unstrut, Sachsen, Württemberg, Franken

I plan to publish 3 postings with regard to the Brandenburg and Berlin Wine Tour 2018:

Introduction: The Wines of Brandenburg and Berlin, Germany
Touring Wine Country Brundenburg, including Berlin, Germany
Tasting the Wines of Brandenburg and Berlin

Pictures: Christian Schiller at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin 

History of Brandenburg and Berlin

Originating in the medieval Northern March, the Margraviate of Brandenburg grew to become the core of the Kingdom of Prussia, which would later become the Free State of Prussia with part being the province of Brandenburg.

Pictures: At the Königlicher Weinberg Klausberg in Sanssouci, Potsdam. See also: Vineyard Tour and Tasting at the Königlicher Weinberg Klausberg in Sanssouci, Potsdam - Germany-East Tour 2018 by ombiasy WineTours: Wine, Art, Culture, History - Berlin, Saale-Unstrut, Sachsen, Württemberg, Franken

In late medieval and early modern times, Brandenburg was one of seven electoral states of the Holy Roman Empire, and, along with Prussia, formed the original core of the German Empire, the first unified German state. Governed by the Hohenzollern dynasty from 1415, it contained the future German capital Berlin. After 1618 the Margraviate of Brandenburg and the Duchy of Prussia were combined to form Brandenburg-Prussia, which was ruled by the same branch of the House of Hohenzollern. In 1701 the state was elevated as the Kingdom of Prussia.

Picture: The Wines of Schlieben

By the 7th century, Slavic peoples are believed to have settled in the Brandenburg area. The Slavs expanded from the east, possibly driven from their homelands in present-day Ukraine and perhaps Belarus by the invasions of the Huns and Avars. They relied heavily on river transport. The two principal Slavic groups in the present-day area of Brandenburg were the Hevelli in the west and the Sprevane in the east.

During the 12th century, the German kings and emperors re-established control over the mixed Slav-inhabited lands of present-day Brandenburg, although some Slavs like the Sorbs in Lusatia adapted to Germanization while retaining their distinctiveness. The Roman Catholic Church brought bishoprics which, with their walled towns, afforded protection from attacks for the townspeople. With the monks and bishops, the history of the town of Brandenburg an der Havel, which was the first center of the state of Brandenburg, began.

Pictures: Dinner at Restaurant Chelinet in Werder with the Wines of Weingut Dr. Lindicke

Brandenburg converted to Protestantism in 1539 in the wake of the Protestant Reformation, and generally did quite well in the 16th century, with the expansion of trade along the Elbe, Havel, and Spree Rivers. The Hohenzollerns expanded their territory by co-rulership since 1577 and acquiring the Duchy of Prussia in 1618, the Duchy of Cleves (1614) in the Rhineland, and territories in Westphalia. The result was a sprawling, disconnected country known as Brandenburg-Prussia that was in poor shape to defend itself during the Thirty Years' War.

Beginning near the end of that devastating conflict, however, Brandenburg enjoyed a string of talented rulers who expanded their territory and power in Europe. The first of these was Frederick William, the so-called "Great Elector", who worked tirelessly to rebuild and consolidate the nation. He moved the royal residence to Potsdam.

When Frederick William died in 1688, he was followed by his son Frederick, third of that name in Brandenburg. As the lands that had been acquired in Prussia were outside the boundaries of the Holy Roman Empire, Frederick assumed (as Frederick I) the title of "King in Prussia" (1701). Although his self-promotion from margrave to king relied on his title to the Duchy of Prussia, Brandenburg was still the most important portion of the kingdom. However, this combined state is known as the Kingdom of Prussia.

Pictures: The Wines of the Neuzelle Abbey

Brandenburg remained the core of the Kingdom of Prussia, and it was the site of the kingdom's capitals, Berlin and Potsdam. When Prussia was subdivided into provinces in 1815, the territory of the Margraviate of Brandenburg became the Province of Brandenburg.

After World War II, the Neumark, the part of Brandenburg east of the Oder-Neisse Line, was transferred to Poland; and its native German population expelled. The remainder of the province became a state in the Soviet Zone of occupation in Germany when Prussia was dissolved in 1947.

Since the foundation of East Germany in 1949 Brandenburg formed one of its component states. The State of Brandenburg was completely dissolved in 1952 by the Socialist government of East Germany, doing away with all component states.

The present State of Brandenburg was re-established on 3 October 1990 upon German reunification.

Brandenburg is bordered by Mecklenburg-Vorpommern in the north, Poland in the east, the Freistaat Sachsen in the south, Saxony-Anhalt in the west, and Lower Saxony in the northwest.

The Oder River forms a part of the eastern border, the Elbe River a portion of the western border. The main rivers in the state itself are the Spree and the Havel.

Pictures: At Weingut Patke in Grano with Owner Holger Lehmann

Wine in Brandenburg

Wine has been produced in Brandenburg since the Middel Ages and is being produced today, although only to a very limited extent. The wine production in Brandenburg accounts for 0.03 percent of Germany's total output.

Wine is produced in Brandenburg in all three quality levels: Deutscher Wein, Landwein and Qualitätswein besonderer Anbaugebiete (mit Prädikat).

Viticulture in the March of Brandenburg is as old as the March itself. Already in 1173 a vineyard was documented in the town of Brandenburg on Havel. Ever since the Middle Ages until well into the 19th century, wine was made in many places in Brandenburg. Grape growing and winemaking was brought here here by settlers from the west, who were invited to come here as part of the German eastward expansion. Viticulture was particularly promoted by both the local monasteries founded in the 12th and 13th centuries and the expanding towns and villages.

The Cistercians, who were the predominant missionaries in the March, were the first who divided the vineyards into different locations regarding quality. They produced communion wine for the village churches.

Kloster Lehnin (Lehnin Monastery) alone once had to provide wine for 70 villages. Until 1415, bread and wine were usually given during church services with sacrament, which required large amounts of wine. Wine was also used for entertaining visitors at the monasteries, who received free room and board. In the monasteries wine was also used for medical purposes – and for the monks’ own consumption.

Pictures: Tasting the Wines of Brandenburg on a Boat, with Solyanka Soup (Lake Senftenberg)

Viticulture in the March reached its heyday at the turn of the 17th to the 18th century. Re-occurring extremely cold winters led to heavy losses in the vineyards. Additionally, market regulations, changing drinking habits, but most of all railway construction forcefully implemented after 1838 led to a decline of winemaking in Brandenburg.

In 1868 there were 64 hectares of vineyards in the government district of Potsdam and 764 hectares in the Frankfurt (Oder) district.

When the State of Brandenburg was founded again in 1990, only a few traces of the extensive grapevine cultivation in this region were left.

The vineyards of Brandenburg are currently limited to a total of 30 hectares. The wine planting rights in Brandenburg have now all been awarded. Today 95 per cent of the vineyards are concentrated in the southern parts of the state, as well as in Werder (Havel).

As white wines, Müller-Thurgau, Weißburgunder (Pinot Blanc), Riesling, Ruländer, Sauvignon Blanc grow here. In addition, there are new fungus-resistant (PiWi) varieties such as Johanniter (as a Riesling replacement), Solaris and Helios (as a Müller-Thurgau replacement), as well as Schönburger, Muscaris and Saphira as new bouquet varieties. Regent, the red fungus-resistant species cultivated on 5.7 hectares, is the most extensively planted variety in Brandenburg, other classic red varieties being Cabernet Dorsa and Dornfelder.

In recent years, between 300 and 600 hectolitres of wine were produced annually. The per-hectare yields were rather low, amounting to an average of 30 – 40 hectolitres per hectare for all wineries and varieties.

Pictures: Brown Coal Open Pit and the Wines of  Wolkenberg

Classification of the Wines of Brandenburg

The German Wine Law distinguishes 3 levels of wine

First, Deutscher Wein. These wines only have to comply with few restrictions - notably no regional restriction - and the wines are not officially tested. They do not have an AP-Number.

Seond, Landwein. These wines have to comply with more restrictions. Notably, they have to come from one of Germany's 26 specified Landwein regions, including Brandeburg, which became a Landwein region in 2007.

Third, Qualitätswein besonderer Anbaugebiete (mit Prädikat). These wines have to comply with the most restrictions. Notably, they have to come from one of Germany's 13 specified Qualitätswein regions. Brandenburg is not a Qualitätswein region.

Pictures: At Villa Jacobs in Potsdam with Owner Marianne Ludes and her Frühburgunder Wines

Interestingly in Brandenburg you find all three wine categories.

Brandenburg is one of the 26 Landwein regions in Germany and thus Brandenburger Landwein is the rule in Brandenburg.

The exisiting vineyards at reunification were attached to the Saale Unstrut Qualitätswein region or the Sachsen Qualitätswein region. Weingut Dr. Lindicke in Werder close to Potsdam sells its wines as Qualitätswein from Saale Unstrut. The wines from Schlieben in the Elbe-Elster county sell as Sachsen Qualitätswein.

Berlin, surrounded by Brandenburg, does not belong to Brandenburg. Thus its wines neither qualify to be a Qba nor a Landwein and have to be sold as Deutscher Wein.

Wine in Berlin

Berlin's history of wine is as old as that of Brandenburg. Wine making in Berlin blossemed, went under and re-occured to a very limited extent as it did in Brandenburg. In the haydays there were about 100 wine producers in Berlin. The revival of viticulture in Berlin started in the 1970s, when the City of Wiesbaden sent Riesling plants from its Neroberg to the partner city Berlin Bezirk 5.

Pictures: The Wines of Berlin

There are a dozen or so vineyard sited in Berlin today. The largest one is in Britz were 1500 vines are planted on 5000 m2. The wine made from these plants is the only one that is 100% from Berlin, with the grapes grown in a vineyard in Berlin and the wine made in a cellar in Berlin. All other wines from Berlin are made in external wineries as far away as in the Mosel region.

Picture: Vineyards in Berlin

All wines from Berlin are labelled "Deutscher Wein", as Berlin does not belong to the Brandenburg Landwein Region. Still, since January 1, 2016 it is legal to grow commercially vine in Berlin.

schiller-wine: Related Postings

Ombiasy Wine Tours 2018: 3 x France and 3 x Germany - Ombiasy Newsletter December 2017

UPCOMING Tours/ Wine Dinners/ Tastings - Annette and Christian Schiller/ ombiasyPR & WineTours/ schiller-wine, Germany, France, USA (Issued: December 3, 2018)

The 2018 American Wine Society National Conference in Buffalo, New York State, USA: Seen Through Christian Schiller's Camera Lens

Rhône Valley Tour December 2017: From Lyon to Avignon - Wine, Food, Culture, History

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