Germany East - INTRODUCTION.
WINE, CHRISTMAS MARKETS, CULTURE, HISTORY
GERMANY’S UNDISCOVERED WINE REGIONS
The Wine, Concert, and Christmas Market Tour
10 day immersion in wine, culture, history, music, Christmas Markets: end November - early December 2020
Discover Germany’s internationally unknown wine regions east of Frankfurt and Germany’s intellectual and cultural cradle in “Mitteldeutschland”. Spend 10 days touring four wine regions, enjoy Berlin, Germany’s vibrant, hip, and fascinating capital, indulge in first-class wines, incredible art and culture, and learn about lots and lots of fascinating German and European history from medieval times to recent events such as the transition from a divided Germany and GDR times to a unified country, and attend performances at world-renowned concert and opera houses, such as the Gewandhaus in Leipzig, the Semper Opera in Dresden., and the Stuttgart Ballet. End of November the Christmas Markets will open. We will visit several Christmas Markets in particular Christmas Markets at wineries. This tour will tickle all your senses and emotions.
- We will kick off the tour in Berlin, the vibrant, fascinating capital of Germany: the cauldron of cultural cool, the combo of glamour and grit, gourmet temples and curry wurst booths, world-class museums and grand opera and street art, and yes! a historic wine making region, which we will explore.
- We will visit 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; 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; Franken with its Bavarian charm and gorgeous, crisp, crystal clear wines from their signature grape Silvaner; Württemberg, Germany’s premier red wine region with hearty, bold wines made from grapes like Lemberger (Blaufränkisch in Austria), and Trollinger. This is the region where wine is ingrained in daily life like nowhere else. The Württemberg region has the highest per capita consumption of wine in Germany.
- We will enjoy visits to several historic, enchanting Christmas Markets in cities, at wineries, and in Seifen, where the beautiful wood carving Christmas ornaments are crafted.
- We will get intimate insights into a selection of Germany’s best of the best wineries, normally not open to visitors.
- We will learn how to read the label on German wine bottles.
- We will get to know the classification of German wines including the new VDP classification.
- We will have excellent, typical German meals at great restaurant, historical places, and at the wineries with the owner/winemaker.
- We will bump into German history and culture at every turn of our trip.
- We will pay a visit to Wittenberg, the town where Martin Luther published the 95 theses on the church door.
- We will hear eye witness accounts of recent German history worthy of a spy thriller: from the GDR to reunified Germany.
- We will get a tour d'horizon of European history while meeting winemakers and owners of wine estates belonging to families having shaped European history thoughout the centuries.
- We will visit Leipzig and Dresden, for many centuries Europe’s cultural and intellectual centers and nowadays again - after surviving almost 50 years under communist rule - a stronghold of European culture.
- We will experience world-class performances: at the Gewandhaus Leipzig, the Semperoper Dresden, the Ballet of Stuttgart.
- We will get the inside track and will indulge in art, culture, and history.
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.