Monday, July 23, 2018

Germany-East Tour 2018 by ombiasy WineTours: Wine, Art, Culture, History - Berlin, Saale-Unstrut, Sachsen, Württemberg, Franken

Picture: Wine Pairing Dinner in the Park of Burg Schaubeck, Weingut Graf Adelmann, Württemberg, with Felix Count Adelmann

The Germany-East Tour 2018 by ombiasy WineTours: "Wine, Art, Culture and History - Germany's Undiscovered Wine Regions and World-renowned Art Centers" took place from June 11 to June 20, 2018. The tour started in Berlin and ended in Frankfurt.

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, opera and ballet 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).

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.

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

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.

Berlin • Saale-Unstrut • Sachsen • Württemberg • Franken

Hildebrandt Organ Naumburg • Gewandhaus Leipzig • Semperoper Dresden • Ballet Stuttgart

DAY -1: Saturday, June 9

The tour started on Monday, June 11, after lunch. Annette and I arrived already on Saturday, June 9, in Berlin as we had participated in a tour of the wine region Brandenburg/ Berlin, organized by the Weinfreundeskreis Hochheim/ Rheingau. The vineyard area in Brandeburg including Berlin totals just 35 hectares, compared with 100000 hectares for the whole country, but Brandenburg and Berlin can look back to a long history of winemaking.

After we toured some vineyards of Berlin and tasted wines from these vineyards during the day, we left the group in the afternoon and stayed in Berlin, while the Weinfreundeskreis Hochheim/ Rheingau group went to their hotel in Potsdam and then back to Hochheim/ Rheingau the following day.

Annette and I went to Cordobar, with my daughter Katharina Sanchez-Schiller and her husband Diego.

DAY 0: Sunday, June 10

Katharina and Diego Sanchez-Schiller were in Berlin because of a demonstration against the Ortega Regime in Nicaragua. Diego played a few songs.

In the evening, we went to a tasting of Weingut Allendorf wines at La Vida, close to the Gendarmenmarkt.

DAY 1: Monday, June 11


Vineyard Tour and Tasting at the Königlicher Weinberg Klausberg in Sanssouci, Potsdam

Andreas Kramp, project leader, was our host at the Königlicher Weinberg Klausberg.

Andreas Kramp took us on a tour of the Königlicher Weinberg Klausberg and then sat down with us for a tasting of the wines of the Königlicher Weinberg Klausberg. After the visit of the Königlicher Weinberg Klausberg, we toured other parts of Sanssouci.

We all know about Frederick the Great, arguable the most important and beloved King of Prussia. To escape the formal ceremonies and pomp of the Berlin court he built a summer palace “Sanssouci” - basically more like a large, single-story villa than a palace - in Potsdam, outside of Berlin. Frederick the Great was very modern in his thinking and an aficionado of the arts and fine living. He dreamt about planting a vineyard in Potsdam and after finishing the construction of the “New Palais” in Potsdam in 1769 he set out to create beautiful gardens and a terraced vineyard “Königlicher Klausberg” on the slopes of the hill Sanssouci sits on. There was varied success in harvesting good grapes and after 1945 most of the buildings and gardens were destroyed by the Russian Army. During GDR times Sanssouci was renovated but the gardens and the vineyard were not really taken care of.

After reunification in 1989 besides restoring historical buildings the focus also shifted to the gardens and the vineyard. The project “Königlicher Klausberg” started revamping the vineyard and initially planted 2000 vines of the varieties Regent and Cabernet Blanc. In his will Frederick the Great wrote that he wanted to be buried in the vineyard of Sanssouci but the twists and turns of history had it that he finally came to rest on Hohenzollern Castle in Württemberg. On August 17, 1991 (the fall of the Berlin wall in 1989 made it possible) on the 205th anniversary of his death Frederick's casket lay in state in the court of honor at Sanssouci, covered by a Prussian flag and escorted by a Bundeswehr (German Army) guard of honor. After nightfall, Frederick's body was finally laid to rest in the terrace of the vineyard of Sanssouci – in the still existing crypt he had built there – without pomp, in accordance with his will.


Dinner at Restaurant Borchardt in Berlin

Before dinner at Borchardt, we had an Aperitif at Planet Wine, a leading wine shop/ bar in Berlin. Owner Anja Schröder joined us. See: Schiller's Favorite Wine Bars in Berlin, Germany

The Borchardt is a Berlin institution. Politics, Press, Diplomats, ... it is here where they mingle over a perfect “Schnitzel”, “Tatar Brot” or other very well executed German dishes. The Borchardt looks back on a 150-year history. It was in 1853 that August F. W. Borchardt laid the foundation for a new dining culture that remains intimately associated with Berlin today. The main site of the Borchardt Restaurant in Französische Straße supplied the Kaiser in the Wilhelmine era and went on to survive the Second World War and the city’s division by the Berlin Wall.

Our hotel, Hotel Gendarm Nouveau, was in walking distance from Restaurand Borchard. Hotel Gendarm Nouveau is a 4 star, quiet, small, friendly hotel in the Gendarmenmarkt area, the most centrally located plaza of Berlin.

DAY 2: Tuesday, June 12


Vineyard Tour and Tasting at Weingut Dr. Lindicke in Werder an der Havel, Brandenburg

Katharina Lindicke was our host.

Katharina Lindicke met us in the vineyards. After a vineyard tour she sat down with us in the wine tavern of Weingut Dr. Lindicke for a tasting.

Viticulture in Werder can look back to more than 800 years of history. One of the early pillars of viticulture in Brandeburg was Lehnin Abbey, not far from Werder, founded in 1180 by Cistercian monks who came from Morimond Abbey in the Champagne region. (Morimond by the way is one of the 4 daughter Abbeys of Cîteaux Abbey in Burgundy. Cîteaux is the birth place of the Cistercian Order. It was founded by Bendiction monks in 1098 who were unsatisfied with the rules of their order and started the Cistercian Order.) During medieval times the Markgrafen of Brandenburg pushed the viticultural development and Brandenburg wines were served at the dinner tables of the aristocracy. In the mid 18-hundreds only 192 people lived in Werder but there were 30 winemakers who farmed more than 250 acres of vineyards. However at the end of the 19th century commercial viticulture was slowly substituted by fruit orchards. Hundred years later, in 1985, still under GDR times, 12 acres were replanted with vines. Today there are 25 acres of vineyards and 3 wine producers in Werder.


Lunch in Wittenberg

After lunch we had time to do a little bit of sightseeing. Wittenberg is closely associated with the Protestant Reformation. It was here where Martin Luther hammered the 90 theses at the door of the castle church.


Vineyard Tour, Cellar Tour and Tasting at Weingut Günter Born in Salzatal, Saale-Unstrut

Elisabeth Born was our host.

Elisabeth Born met us in the vineyards. From there we drove to the winery where we sat down in the court and enjoyed a delightful tasting with Elisabeth, where we were also joined by her husband and co-winemaker Jochen Born. Before leaving, Elisabeth showed us the winemaking facilities. We also tasted from barrel.

The Saale-Unstrut wine region sits on 51st latitude and is Germany’s northernmost accredited 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. The winery Günter Born is located in the northernmost tip of the Saale-Unstrut region in the Mansfeld lake area. The protective Harz mountains and the heat reflective surface of the water produce a fantastic microclimate. The colored sandstone soil with its layers of loess-loam serves as a heat reservoir.

The viticultural history of the Born family goes back to the mid 19th century. In 1990 shortly after reunification private ownership became again possible and Günter Born founded one of the first privately owned wineries in this region. Today the winery has 20 acres of vineyards and is managed by Günter Born and his daughter Elisabeth. Elisabeth studied oenology at the famous Geisenheim oenological university and gained experiences in New Zealand and South Africa. In 2011 she served as the German Wine Princess.


Arrival and check-in at Hotel Zufriedenheit in Naumburg. Hotel Zufriedenheit in Naumburg is a brand new 4 star, very elegant boutique hotel with stunning room designs in the heart of Naumburg.

DAY 3: Wednesday, June 13


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.

Organ Concert and Guided Tour of the Hildebrandt Organ in the St. Wenzels Church in Naumburg

St. Wenzels Church Organist Hans Christian Martin was our host.

We learned everything that there is to know about an organ from our expert guide, St. Wenzels Church Organist Hans Christian Martin. 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.


Lunch on the Market Square in Naumburg just around the Corner from the St. Wenzels Church


Vineyard tour, Cellar Tour and Tasting at Weingut Hey in Naumburg, Saale-Unstrut

Matthias Hey was our host.

For the first wine tasting, Matthias Hey took us up the steep slopes of the Naumburger Steinmeister vinyard. We enjoyed a phantastic view and an excellent Weingut Hey wine. We tasted more Hey wines in the tasting room of the winery. Matthias Hey also took us on a cellar tour, where we tasted from tank.

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.


Wine Pairing Dinner at Restaurant Zufriedenheit in Naumburg, with Chef Robert Klaus and his Excellent Food, and Uwe Lützkendorf, Weingut Lützkendorf, and his World-class Wines

Chef Robert Klaus and Winemaker Uwe Lützkendorf were our hosts.

Initially, Annette had planned a winepairing dinner with Uwe Lützkendorf instead of a visit at his winery. As it turned out, the restaurant became interested in the event and opened it to the general public. As a result, we were about 30 people at the dinner.

The Hotel and Restaurant Zufriedenheit opened in 2017. The restaurant got immediately recommended in the Michelin guide for Germany. The kitchen presents local and seasonal dishes of very high quality and with innovate new ideas. 13 points in the Gault Millau.

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.

DAY 4: Thursday, June 14


Visit and Tasting at Landesweingut Kloster Pforta in Bad Kösen, Saale-Unstrut

Managing Director Björn Probst was our host.

The visit started with a vineyard tour. Björn Probst then showed us the plans for a new winery that will be built in the next years on the grounds of Kloster Pforta a few miles away from the current location of the winery. He then showed us the cellar of the current winery which will conitnue to be used until the new winery is ready.  We then went to the tasting room for a tasting. We ended the visit with a self-guided tour of the Pforta Abbey, where the new winemaking facility will be built.

Landesweingut Kloster Pforta is one of the five State-owned wine producing estates in Germany, and is owned by the State of Sachsen-Anhalt. Its history mirrors German history. Its origins date back to the Pforta Abbey, founded in 1137 by Cistercian monks. In 1154 the monks started to plant vines in the Pfortenser Köppelberg vineyard, which still today is one of the six vineyards of the winery, producing excellent wines. Pforta Abbey soon had a reputation as the richest abbey in medieval Thuringia, with vineyard holdings in 192 communes, totaling at least 250 ha (around 625 acres). After Reformation (during the 16th century the eastern part of Germany became Lutheran and the monks had to leave), ownership went to the kings of Saxony, which subsequently lost the Abbey Pforta to the Kingdom of Prussia at the Vienna Congress in 1814.

After World War II, it became the socialist co-operative VEG (volkseigener Betrieb / company owned by the people) Weinbau Naumburg in the GDR, with 300 acres of land. After the fall of the Wall in 1989, Abbey Pforta was in the hands of the privatization organization Treuhand for a few years, but privatization efforts were not successful and thus the State of Sachsen-Anhalt took over.


Lunch at Restaurant Stelzenhaus am Heinekanal in Leipzig-Plagwitz

Leipzig lies at the confluence of the rivers White Elster, Pleisse and Parthe. There is a system of connecting waterways –canals- in the former industrial area of Leipzig-Plagwitz. There are several charming restaurants sitting on the banks of the rivers and canals.


Arrival and check-in at INNSIDE Hotel in Leipzig. Hotel INNSIDE is a brand new 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.

Guided Walking Tour through Leipzig

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


Gewandhaus Leipzig Concert

Before the concert we took drinks in the rooftop bar of the INNSIDE Hotel.

Concert with the full Gewandhaus orchestra and Michael Schönheit at the organ.

DAY 5: Friday, June 15


Guided Tour of the Albrechtsburg in Meissen

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.


Lunch at Restaurant Vincenz Richter in Meissen

Thomas Herrlich joined us for part of the lunch.

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


Arrival and check-in at the Welcome Parkhotel in Meissen, Sachsen.

Parkhotel is a beautiful, charming 4-star hotel built in 1870 in the art nouveau style with stunning views across the Elbe river to the Meissen cathedral and the impressive Albrechtsburg.

Vineyard Tour and Tasting at Weingut Schuh in Coswig, Sachsen

Katharina Pollmer-Schuh was our host, with her brother Matthias Schuh.

We started the visit with an extensive vineyard tour by car. Then we returned to the winery, were we met Matthias Schuh and sat down for a tasting.

Shortly after reunification Walter Schuh (he comes from a vintner family in the Mosel region) moved to Sachsen. He acquired two farmhouses and a small vineyard. Both, the buildings and vineyard were in a very sorry, dilapidated state. He restored the houses and the vineyard and started to build up the winery. It is thanks to Walter Schuh that the steep granite vineyard site Meissner Kapitelberg can now again produce wines recalling its glorious past. Since 2016 the estate is managed by son Matthias Schuh. Before taking over at home he did an apprenticeship at a winery in the Franken wine region and gained further experiences in New Zealand and Bordeaux. Matthias is not prepared to accept any compromise when it comes to quality. This was noticed by the German wine critics and this year he is one of three “newcomers of the year 2018”, a title awarded by the life style magazine Falstaff.

Visit and Tasting at Weingut Schloss Proschwitz, Prinz zur Lippe, in Meissen

Georg Prinz zur Lippe was our host.

Georg Prinz zur Lippe received us at the Weinbergshäuschen, where we enjoyed the beautiful view of Meissen and a glass of Weingut Schloss Proschwitz, Prinz zur Lippe Sekt. Georg Prinz zur Lippe then showed us his castle. From there we drove to the winery and the Lippe'sches Gutshaus, where we had dinner with Georg Prinz zur Lippe. We tasted thoughout the tour.

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.


Wine Pairing Dinner at Lippe'sches Gutshaus, Schloss Proschwitz, with Georg Prinz zur Lippe

Georg Prinz zur Lippe was our host.

From Schloss Proschwitz we drove to the winery and the Lippe'sches Gutshaus, where we had dinner with Georg Prinz zur Lippe. During the dinner, Goerg Prinz zur Lippe took us on a tour of his winery.

DAY 6: Saturday, June 16


Visit and Tasting at the Sächsisches Staatsweingut Schloss Wackerbarth in Radebeul, Sachsen

We toured the baroque Schloss Wackerbarth and the modern winemaking facilities, before sitting down in the tasting room for a portfolio tasting of Sächsisches Staatsweingut Schloss Wackerbarth.

The baroque Wackerbarth castle was built in 1727 by Count August Christoph von Wackerbarth. The castle looks back on a volatile history and changed hands multiple times. In 1928 a wine estate was founded at the castle, which even survived the GDR times. During GDR times it became a socialist co-operative VEG (volkseigener Betrieb / company owned by the people). Along the Radebeul vineyards, where counts once resided and the court of Augustus the Strong used to hold glittering parties, today there is an ultra modern winery owned by the State of Saxony, who took over the castle, grounds, and vineyards after reunification. The contrast between a “Napa” style wine estate and a Baroque castle is unique. The Schloss Wackerbarth wines benefit from very favorable climate conditions. The Elbe river dampens the harsh winters and the vineyards are on steep sun-kissed slopes. Schloss Wackerbarth is famous for its Sekt, produced according to the méthode Champenoise.


Lunch at Weingut Karl Friedrich Aust in Radebeul, Sachsen

The origins of the “Meinholdsche Turmhaus” (tower building), the heart of the winery Aust, dates back to the year 1650. Wine was already made here in the 18th century. The Aust family was able to purchase the old estate in 1975 and restored this historical gem on their own initiative. However, during the communist era they were only allowed to produce 100 liters of wine for their own consumption. The fall of the Iron Curtain in 1989 opened unforeseen opportunities. The new situation allowed the Aust family to cultivate their own 13 acres of vineyards, and the winery Karl Friedrich Aust was born. Karl Friedrich trained at prominent estates to learn the art of making wine and has now become a top wine maker in his own right. The winery also has a restaurant on its premises and serves wonderful local food with a modern twist.


Arrival in Dresden and check-in at INNSIDE hotel. Hotel INNSIDE in Dresden is a very stylish, modern 4-star hotel with innovative design in the heart of the city with the Twist Sky Bar on the 6th floor that allows for a spectacular panoramic views of the golden, magnificent dome of the rebuilt Frauenkirche.

We took a stroll through the historic part of Dresden, visited the Frauenkirche and enjoyed the magnificent architecture and views along the “Brühl Terraces” on the banks of the Elbe river.

Visit of the Royal Palace in Dresden and the Museum Complex

To look at the treasure in the museum leaves you speechless and you get a sense of what Dresden was before WW II. Dresden has a long history as the capital of the kingdom of Saxony. For centuries the Saxon royals spared no money and effort to furnish the city with artistic, and cultural splendor. The baroque and rococo city center, and wealth of art, gave the city the nickname: “Florence of the north”. In modern times, until 1933, Dresden was Europe’s capital of modern art. The allied bombing at the end of World War II wiped out the city, and the city will never be able to shed the scars and to return to its former glory. 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. You have to see this with your own eyes. No picture will ever be able to capture the luxury and splendidness of these rooms.


Semperoper Dresden

Opera: "La Bohème" by Giacomo Puccini.

DAY 7: Sunday, June 17


Visit of the Deutsch-Deutsches Museum Mödlareuth, Töben, Sachsen/ Bavaria

We experienced recent German history. We coild see 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.


Lunch at Ristorante Bürgerreuth, Bayreuth

This simple restaurant just a couple minutes from the Wagner Festspielhaus is basically the "cantina" for the singers and musicians of the Festspielhaus. The walls are plastered with pictures of famous artists who ate here.


Arrival and check-in at Althoff Hotel am Schlossgarten in Stuttgart.

The Althoff Hotel am Schlossgarten is a 5 star old-school hotel in walking distance to the Stuttgart theater.


Ballet at the Stuttgart Opera House

Stuttgart Ballet Company: “Lulu, eine Montretragödie”, narrative Ballet by Christian Spuck based on a play of German dramatist Frank Wedekind. Music by Dimitri Schostakowitsch, Alban Berg, Arnold Schönberg. World Premiere at the Stuttgart Ballet on December 5, 2003.

We ended the evening with a light supper at the Weinwirtschaft Weingut Franz Keller in the Althoff Hotel am Schlossgarten.

DAY 8: Monday, June 18


Cellar tour and Tasting at Weingut Aldinger in Fellbach (Stuttgart), with Matthias Aldinger

We met Matthias Aldinger during the visit of the cellar and we spent quite some time with him there. He also joined us for part of the extensive tasting, including from barrel.

The roots of this Fellbach (near Stuttgart) estate stretch back to the 15th century. Gert Aldinger assumed the helm in 1992, with all the responsibility that comes with 500 years of winegrowing tradition. 15 years later, the estate was already counted among Württemberg's finest, with sons Hansjörg and Matthias beginning their chapter at the forefront.

30 hectares. 33% Riesling, 15% Lemberger, 15% Spätburgunder, 10% Sauvignon blanc, 8% Trollinger, 6% Merlot, 5% Weissburgunder, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon, 3% Chardonnay.


Lunch at Gasthof zum Ochsen in Kernen-Stetten


Vineyard Walk, Cellar Tour and Tasting at Weingut Karl Haidle in Kernen-Stetten, Württemberg

Moritz Haidle was our host.

We started the visit with an extensive vineyard tour. Thei swas followed by a visit of the wine cellar and a tasting of the Weingut Karl Haidle wines.

This winery was founded in 1949 by retired, world-class Gymnast Karl Haidle. Karl Haidle was one of the first growers in Württemberg to produce his wines himself and to market it directly rather than via a cooperative. Weingut Haidle has long been a pioneer and leader in fine-wine production in Württemburg.

Today, the young and energetic Moritz Haidle is in charge of the estate. He is a dedicated organic farmer, and a passionate devotee of hip-hop culture. A talented graffiti artist, Moritz is no doubt a radical figure in the Swabian wine scene, uprooting the traditional image of the staid German winzer. His vibrant character and commitment to terroir translates in the pure, focused wines that are emerging from this deep, natural cellar. Specializing in Riesling, Lemberger, and Spätburgunder, Moritz gives the unique slopes of Stetten a chance to speak with nuance and clarity.

Arrival and check-in at Hotel zum Ochsen in Oberstenfeld, Württemberg.

Hotel Zum Ochsen is a 3 star family run hotel in the historic center of Oberstenfeld with very comfortable rooms in contemporary style and an award-winning regional cuisine.

Vineyard Tour and Cellar Tour at Weingut Graf Adelmann, Burg Schaubeck, in Steinheim-Kleinbottwar, Württemberg

Felix Count Adelmann was our host.

We started the visit with a glass of Sekt in the garden of Burg Schaubeck. Felix Count Adelmann  took us by car on a vineyard tour. We then visted the old cellars of Weingut Graf Adelmann, before heading back to Burg Schaubeck for an amazing wine-tasting dinner

It would be hard to imagine a more stylish setting for a wine estate: a mighty medieval castle, the residence of the Count of Adelmann family, surrounded by a park with huge ancient trees, and in the distance the vineyards. The Adelmann family acquired Burg Schaubeck and the 50 acres wine estate in 1914 but the estate’s winemaking history stretches back almost 1000 years. Felix Count Adelmann is the fifth generation of his family line managing the estate. He likes traditional barrel-aged red wines. His white wines show elegance and finesse.


Wine Pairing Dinner in the English Park of Burg Schaubeck, Weingut Graf Adelmann, with Felix Count Adelmann

Felix Count Adelmann was our host.

We enjoyed a fantastic wine pairing dinner under mighty trees in the beautiful park of Burg Schaubeck, the faimily castle of the Adelmanns.

DAY 9: Tuesday, June 19


Cellar Tour and Tasting at Weingut Zehnthof, Theo Luckert, in Sulzfeld, Franken

Philipp Luckert was our host.

Weingut Zehnthof, Theo Luckert is right in the center of the pittoresque village of Sulzfeld, which is completely surrounded by a city wall. The walk to the winery through the village was already most interesting. At the winery, Philipp Luckert showed us around in the fascinating old cellars and sat down with us in the ultra-modern tasting room for a tasting. 

In 1970 Theo Luckert purchased the tithe cellars that once belonged to the prince-bishop’s holdings and founded the Weingut Zehnthof. Today his sons Wolfgang and Ulrich manage the estate, with Wolfgang's son Philipp. They own a very special vineyard, the Creutz, with Silvaner vines planted sometime around 1870. There are about 600 vines that only produce 350 bottles a year. Since 2009 the winery has been certified organic. Zehnthof wines in general are produced without a great deal of technology and fermented in large old neutral oak casks. All wines go through malolactic fermentation and are bottled unfiltered.


Lunch in Sulzfeld


Visit and Tasting at Staatlicher Hofkeller in Würzburg, Franken

The Würzburg Residenz is one of the largest palaces 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. Among other gifted artists and craftmen he hired Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, the greatest fresco painter of the 18th century to paint the ceiling of the grand staircase. The artists and craftmen decorated the residence in a joint creative undertaking and created the Würzburg “Rococo”, the most exhuberant of all the variations of this style in Germany. 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.

Arrival and check-in at Hotel Greifensteiner Hof in Würzburg.

Hotel Greifensteiner Hof is a 4 star hotel with an old-world elegance in the historic center of the Barocke town Würzburg. This hotel has the best location in all of Würzburg. It is right in the center of the beautiful old town, but on a quiet side street. There also is a wonderful restaurant on the premises.

Visit and Tasting at Weingut am Stein, Ludwig Knoll, in Würzburg, Franken

Franziska Schömig was our host.

Franziska has her own winery, Weingut Franziska Schömig. She graduated with Moritz Haidle, whome we had met earlier on the tour, from Geisenheim University. When we met her she was on her final days in her job at Weingut am Stein, Ludwig Knoll. Also, at the time, Sandra Knoll was out of the picture for several months because of an accident. We met Ludwig Knoll briefly in the cellar. Following a glass of Sekt in the court of the winery, Franziska Schömig took us through the portfolio of Weingut am Stein, Ludwig Knoll, before showing us around in the modern cellar. From there we walked over to Reisers am Stein for a tastinng dinner.

This winery has a stunning architecture and is beautifully situated right in the middle of the world-renowned vineyard “Würzburger Stein”. Sandra and Ludwig Knoll, the fifth generation of the founding family, run the estate and pursue quality with a vengeance. They are convinced that great wines, expressive and rich in character, are the result of creative minds and the obligation to deal with nature and its resources responsibly in order to leave behind healthy soils for the generations to come.


Wine Pairing Dinner at 1 Michelin Star Restaurant Reisers am Stein, Würzburg, Franken

The restaurant is located directly at the Würzburger Stein – one of Franken’s best vineyard sites – right next to the Weingut am Stein, Ludwig Knoll. “The multi-awarded ‘Weingut am Stein’ is an inspiration and creates the perfect connection of culinary art and premium wine. It is simply the best environment that I could have imagined here“, says chef Bernhard Reiser.

DAY 10: Wednesday, June 20


Vineyard Tour, Cellar Tour and Tasting at Weingut Rudolf Fürst in Bürgstadt, Franken

Sebastian Fürst was our host.

Upon arrival, Sebastian Fürst joined us in our car and we drove to the Weingut Rudolf Fürst
vineyards. Back at the winery, we took a tour of the cellar and tasted some wines by barrel. The visit ended with a formal portfolio tasting in the tasting room of Weingut Rudolf Fürst. We met Paul Fürst in the cellar.

The Miltenberg basin in the western tip of Franken between the forested hills of the Odenwald and the Spessart, where Bürgstadt is located, provides ideal climatic conditions for first-class viticulture. The weathered colored sandstone of the Centgrafenberg vineyard in Bürgstadt and the extremely steep slopes of the Schlossberg vineyard in Klingenberg are home to the most extraordinary Früh-and Spätburgunder (Pinot Noir précos and Pinot Noir) produced by Paul Fürst and his son Sebastian. The Fürst family has been producing wine in this area since 1638. In addition to the reds, brilliant white wines such as Riesling, Weissburgunder and Franken’s signature wine, Silvaner are also produced here. Sebastian Fürst just received the “winemaker of year 2018” award by the wine and lifestyle magazine Falstaff.


Lunch at Restaurant Burgterrasse Clingenburg in Klingenberg


Visit and Tasting at Weingut Benedikt Baltes in Klingenberg, Franken: The Wines of Weingut Benedikt Baltes and of Weingut Julia Bertram

Benedikt Baltes was our host.

We took a look at the impressive vineyards of Klingenberg from Weingut Benedikt Baltes, before touring the winemaking facilities of Weingut Benedikt Baltes. We tasted the wines of both Weingut Benedikt Baltes and Weingut Julia Bertram. 

Weingut Benedikt Baltes can look back on more than 100 years of history. It began in 1912 when the city of Klingenberg purchased the building that formerly housed the prince bishop’s fiscal authorities and the Schlossberg vineyard. It was then named Weingut Stadt Klingenberg. It stayed in public hands until 2010 when Benedikt Baltes acquired the wine estate and thus privatized it. The winery has 30 acres of terraced vineyards on very steep slopes. Benedikt comes from a family of winemakers in the Ahr region -a predominantly Pinot Noir region- and kind of grew up with being fascinated with the Pinot Noir grape. Klingenberg is Pinot Noir country. The steep amphitheater-like colored sandstone terraces collect the sun and provide perfect conditions for Pinot Noir. 90% of Benedikt’s production is red wine. The rest is Riesling and Müller-Thurgau. His wife life Julia Bertram -Germany’s 64th wine queen in 2013- owns a wine estate in the Ahr region. Together they manage both estates. We tasted wines from both wineries. It was very interesting to compare the Franken and Ahr Pinot Noirs.

Postings: Germany-East Tour 2018 by ombiasy WineTours: Wine, Art, Culture, History - Berlin, Saale-Unstrut, Sachsen, Württemberg, Franken (Published and Forthcoming)

Germany-East Tour 2018 by ombiasy WineTours: Wine, Art, Culture, History - Berlin, Saale-Unstrut, Sachsen, Württemberg, Franken

Vineyard Tour and Tasting at the Königlicher Weinberg Klausberg Project in Sanssouci, Potsdam

Vineyard Tour and Tasting at Weingut Dr. Lindicke in Werder an der Havel, Brandenburg, with Katharina Lindicke

Vineyard Tour, Cellar Tour and Tasting at Weingut Günter Born in Salzatal, Saale-Unstrut, with Elisabeth Born

Vineyard Visit and Wine Tasting Lunch at Weingut Hey in Naumburg, Saale-Unstrut, with Matthias Hey – Germany-East Tour 2016 by ombiasy WineTours

Wine Pairing Dinner at Restaurant Zufriedenheit in Naumburg, with Chef Robert Klaus and his excellent food and Uwe Lützkendorf, Weingut Lützkendorf, and his world-class wines

Tasting at Weingut Uwe Lützkendorf, with Uwe Lützkendorf, in Bad Kösen, Saale-Unstrut – Germany-East Tour 2017 by ombiasy WineTours

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

Visit and tasting at Landesweingut Kloster Pforta in Bad Kösen, Saale-Unstrut, with Managing Director Björn Probst

Weingut Kloster Pforta: Vineyard Tour, Cellar Tour and Tasting with Managing Director Christian Kloss – Germany-North Wine Tour by ombiasy (2014)

Wine and Music: "Martin Luther Lunch" at the Historic Vincenz Richter Restaurant, Weingut Vincenz Richter, in Meissen with Senior Boss Gottfried Herrlich and the Music of Bach, Mozart and Beethoven – Germany-East Tour 2017 by ombiasy WineTours

Vineyard tour and Tasting at Weingut Schuh in Coswig, Sachsen, with Katharina Pollmer-Schuh and Matthias Schuh

Tour and Dinner at Weingut Schloss Proschwitz - Prinz zur Lippe in Zadel, Sachsen, with Georg Prinz zur Lippe - Germany-East Tour 2017 by ombiasy WineTours

Visit and Tasting at the Sächsisches Staatsweingut Schloss Wackerbarth in Radebeul, Sachsen

Wine and Opera in Dresden: Mozart at Semper Opera and the Best Wines of Sachsen at Wine Bar Weinzentrale in Dresden-Neustadt, with Owner/ Sommelier Jens Pietzonka – Germany-East Tour 2017 by ombiasy WineTours

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

Cellar Tour and Tasting at Weingut Aldinger in Fellbach (Stuttgart), Württemberg, with Matthias Aldinger

Vineyard Walk, Cellar Tour and Tasting at Weingut Karl Haidle in Kernen-Stetten, Württemberg, with Moritz Haidle 

Vineyard Tour, Cellar Tour and Dinner at Weingut Graf Adelmann Burg Schaubeck in Steinheim-Kleinbottwar, Württemberg; with Count Adelmann

Cellar tour and Tasting at Weingut Zehnthof, Theo Luckert in Sulzfeld, Franken, with Philipp Luckert

Cellar Tour and Tasting at Staatlicher Hofkeller in Würzburg, Franken, with General Manager Marcel von den Benken – Germany-East Tour 2016 by ombiasy WineTours

Visit and Tasting at Weingut Am Stein Ludwig Knoll in Würzburg, Franken - Germany-East Wine and Art Tour by ombiasy WineTours (2015)

Wine Pairing Dinner at 1 Michelin Star Restaurant Reisers am Stein, Würzburg, Franken

Vineyard Tour, Cellar Tour and Tasting at Weingut Rudolf Fürst in Bürgstadt, Franken, with Sebastian Fürst

Tasting and Tour with the Pinot Noir Legend Paul Fürst, Weingut Rudolf Fürst in Bürgstadt, Franken – Germany-East Tour by ombiasy WineTours (2015)

Visit and Tasting at Weingut Benedikt Baltes in Klingenberg, Franken, with Benedikt Baltes: The Wines of Weingut Benedikt Baltes and of Weingut Julia Bertram

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

Schiller’s Favorite Wine Taverns in Würzburg

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