Germany North - ITINERARY
A German Wine and Culture Tour - Riesling country and the northernmost Pinot-Noir!
Spend 7 days touring five wine regions, tasting fabulous wines in the Rhine, Ahr, Mosel, and Nahe valleys, meeting world-renowned wine makers, and delving deep into German history and culture:
|Rheingau • Mittelrhein • Ahr • Mosel • Nahe|
Monday, May 02 - May 08, 2018
Accommodation: 6 nights:
|Night 1: Wednesday, May 02:|
|Hotel Schwan in Östrich-Winkel, a 3 star historic (built in 1628), newly renovated, meticulously kept family-run hotel in the picturesque wine village of Oestrich.|
|Night 2: Thursday, May 03:|
|Hotel Bellevue in Boppard, a 4 star old-world elegant hotel of the Belle Époque era right on the banks of the Rhine river.|
|Night 3: Friday, May 04:|
|Steigenberger Hotel in Bad Neuenahr, a 4 ½ star hotel that combines the graciousness of the past with modern comforts of today. Excellent spa facilities using the hot springs of the spa town Bad Neuenahr and the location at the Kurpark near the banks of the Ahr river make this hotel very special.|
|Night 4: Saturday, May 05:|
|Hotel Schanz in Piesport, a 3 star family run, modern hotel with a 2 Michelin star restaurant on the premises.|
|Night 5: Sunday, May 06:|
|Mercure Hotel in Trier, a modern, 4 star hotel just opposite of the famous Porta Nigra, the Roman city gate. From the breakfast room you have front row seats to admire the splendid Porta Nigra.|
|Night 6: Monday, May 07:|
|NH Hotel in Bingen, a 4 star modern hotel beautifully situated at the confluence of the Nahe and Rhine rivers with stunning views across the Rhine to the Vineyards and castles on the Rheingau side.|
PLEASE TAKE A LOOK AT THE SAMPLE ITINERARY BELOW (ITINERARY OF 2017). FOR 2018 THERE WILL BE SOME CHANGES OF WINE ESTATES, RESTAURANTS, ETC. BUT THE STRUCTURE OF THE TOUR REMAINS THE SAME.
DAY 1: Monday, June 19
|09:15 am Departure by coach in Frankfurt am Main.|
|10:00 am Cellar tour, and tasting at winery Georg Müller Stiftung (VDP) in Hattenheim, Rheingau.
This wine estate in the heart of the Rheingau, the charming town of Hattenheim, was established in 1882 by Georg Müller, co-owner of the famous sparkling wine house Matheus Müller in Eltville. He also was one of the founders of the VDP. In 1913 Georg Müller donated the wine estate to his home town Hattenheim. He transformed it into a foundation (Stiftung), and the profits were used to support the poor and other charitable causes. In 2003 the estate was privatized and Peter Winter, chairman of the board of one of the largest wine companies in the world, purchased the winery. He invested heavily, hired an ambitious cellar master, and brought the estate back to its former glory. The As aficionado of the arts Peter Winter uses the 250 years old vaulted wine cellar as a modern art gallery. The modern art on display and the historic cellar make for an impressive, extraordinary exciting exhibition space.
|12:00 pm Departure.
|12:15 pm Lunch with wine pairing at the restaurant of Eberbach Abbey. After lunch we have a guided tour through the Eberbach Abbey.
One of Europe's best-preserved and important medieval monasteries lies in a valley near the town of Eltville in the Rheingau. Still a world-class winery today, the Eberbach Abbey is a former Cistercian monastery, founded in 1136 by Bernard of Clairvaux as the first Cistercian monastery on the eastern bank of the Rhine river. Its Romanesque and Gothic buildings are very impressive.
|01:45 pm Guided tour of the Eberbach Abbey.
We will get an in-depth tour of the Abbey, including the visit of the old monk’s dormitory where every year the famous auction of premium German wines takes place. A very special treat will be a peek into the treasure chamber, where century old wine bottles are still stored and where the movie “The Name of the Rose” with Sean Connery was filmed in 1986.
|03:00 pm Visit and tasting at winery Kloster Eberbach (VDP), Rheingau.
To get the full impression of the importance of the Eberbach Abbey we need to visit the winery. Bernard of Clairvaux founded the winery when he establishing the Abbey. In medieval times Eberbach Abbey was the largest winery in all of Europe with 750 acres of vineyards. Today Eberbach Abbey is one of the five State-owned wineries (the State of Hesse is its proprietor) and with 500 acres the largest winery in Germany. The estate’s holdings in highly esteemed vineyards in the Hessische Bergstrasse and the Rheingau wine region are unparalleled. We will visit the state of the art, recently constructed new technical facilities of the winery built under the famous Steinberg vineyard just down the road from the Abbey.
|04:15 pm Departure.|
|04:30 pm Visit and tasting at winery Schloss Vollrads (VDP) in Oestrich-Winkel, Rheingau.
Schloss Vollrads is one of the oldest wine estates of the world. The impressive tower house, built in 1330, was constructed on the foundation of a roman defense tower. From the early 1300 until 1997 the castle belonged to the Count von Greiffenclau family. The family’s history is deeply rooted in viticulture. According to archives in Mainz they sold wine as early as 1211. Today 200 acres of vineyards, planted 100% with Riesling belong to Schloss Vollrads. Some of the vineyards were already in the possession of the Greiffenclau family in 1300. In 1997 – in view of unsurmountable debts, Count Erwein Matuschka-Greiffenclau committed suicide and since then the Nassauische Bank owns the estate.
|06:30 pm Check-in at hotel Schwan in Oestrich-Winkel.
Time to discover the beautiful historic wine village and to check out the Oestricher Kran, a former wine barrel loading crane dating from 1744. This is the only preserved testimonial of an old technique to load and discharge cargo. The Oestricher Kran was in use until 1926. The evening and dinner is on your own. There are several very nice restaurants and wine tavern in the village just a couple of minutes walk from the hotel.
DAY 2: Tuesday, June 20
|09:00 am Check-out at hotel and departure.|
|09:15 am Vineyard tour, cellar visit and tasting at winery Leitz (VDP) in Rüdesheim, Rheingau.
The Leitz Family’s viticulture history goes back to 1744 and has been passed on from one generation to the next for almost four centuries. Johannes Leitz, the current owner and winemaker, took charge of the estate in 1985, when he was in his early 20s. At that time, the winery had 7.5 acres of vineyards and was unknown among German wine connoisseurs. Under the leadership of Johannes “Josi” Leitz (see picture), the winery grew in size to 100 acres. 99% of his vineyards are planted with Riesling. He was able to acquire top Riesling sites in the famous Rüdesheimer Berg vineyards - Berg Schloßberg, Berg Roseneck and Berg Rotland, on the mountain slopes above Rüdesheim facing the south. Unusual for a German winery, Josi exports 90% of his wines with the US being the most important market.
|11:45 am Departure and drive to the Mittelrhein wine region.
This journey to Bacharach involves a ferry ride across the Rhine river. There is no bridge across the Rhine river for some 70 miles between Mainz and Koblenz to not destroy the beauty of the Rhine valley.
|12:45 pm Lunch (beverages on your own) at restaurant Altes Haus in Bacharach.
Bacharach is an incredible beautiful, romantic 1000 year old wine village. Its castles, church spires, medieval city wall, and half-timbered houses on the shore of the Rhine rive is pure “Rheinromantik”. Bacharach is also the birthplace of the world-famous designer Michael Thonet and there is a museum commemorating the famous son.
|02:30 pm Departure.|
|02:45 pm Visit and tasting at winery Ratzenberger (VDP) in Bacharach, Rheingau.
The grandfather of the current owner, Jochen Ratzenberger, purchased this 300 year old wine estate in 1956. It lies in a breathtakingly beautiful narrow valley bordered by extremely steep vineyard sites. The winery is also very beautiful with vast, historic vaulted cellars. A significant portion of the 35 acres of vineyards are planted with vines more than 50 years old, which give the wines substance and at the same time elegance. Jochen Ratzenberger also produces some very delicious Sekt, which is kept on the lees for at least 30 months.
Did you know that the Germans are world champions of sparkling wine (Champagne, Crément, Sekt, Cava, Prosecco) consumption?
|04:45 pm Departure.|
|05:15 pm Boarding the boat in Bacharach for a cruise on the Rhine river.
Cruise on the Rhine, passing the famous Loreley Rock and the slopes of the Mittelrhein wine region. Time to indulge in the breathtakingly beautiful view of the Rhine River and its banks dotted with castles, forts, and ruins dating from the middle ages. The Middle-Rhine valley is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
|06:50 pm Debarking in Boppard. Check in at the beautiful Belle Époque Hotel Bellevue in Boppard.
This hotel dates from the end of the 19th century and has seen the aristocratic visitors from all over Europe when they visited the famous Rhine river. Enjoy the view on the Rhine river and observe the cargo boats traveling upstream and downstream. right on the banks of the Rhine river. The evening is free for you to explore the quaint little town of Boppard or to stroll along the majestic Rhine river. Dinner on your own.
DAY 3: Wednesday, June 21
|08:30 am Check-out of hotel and departure. For some 20 Kilometers we drive along the beautiful, mighty Rhine river.|
|09:15 am Visit and tasting at winery Heymann-Lösenstein (VDP) in Winningen, Mosel.
Reinhard and Cornelia Heymann-Löwenstein founded this wine estate in 1980. However the Heymann-Löwenstein family can look back on more than 500 years of winemaking. Reinhard is the 13th generation winemaker carrying on the family name. Today the winery has 40 acres under vine, with 98 % Riesling and 2 % Pinot Noir. Reinhard harvests late - at around 160 days of hangtime after flowering – to achieve physiological ripeness of the grapes. The winery is located in the Lower Mosel, just 15 minutes from Koblenz, where the Mosel river joins the Rhine river. The vineyards of the Lower Mosel are by far the steepest of the Mosel region. Some have an inclination of 60 °. The bewitching slate slopes with terraces have made the Lower Mosel area also known as “Terrassenmosel”.
|11:15 am Departure and drive to the Ahr wine region.|
|12:15 pm Lunch with wine at winery / wine tavern Kloster Marienthal, in Marienthal, Ahr.
The winery and wine tavern Kloster Marienthal is a historical gem. The abbey was founded in 1250. Today the remaining buildings and the ruins are home of a small winery (11 acres) and a wine tavern.
|01:45 am Departure.|
|02:00 pm Visit and tasting at winery Kreuzberg (VDP) in Dernau, Ahr.
This winery has long been recognized as one of the top estates for producing great Pinot-Noirs. The Ahr valley north of the 50 °latitude is unquestionable the northernmost region for producing top Pinot-Noirs. The secret lies in an ideal micro-climate found in the narrow canyons along the river with their very special geological conditions, and south-facing slopes. Wine making along the tiny Ahr river goes back to Roman times. The winery Kreuzberg is a young estate by German standards. It was founded in 1953 by the grandfather of the current owner, Ludwig Kreuzberg. However the Kreuzberg family was involved in wine before and active in the local wine cooperative. Today’s winery encompasses 22 acres of vineyards, among them 8 sites that are classified as “Grosses Gewächs”. 2/3s of their vineyards are on steep slopes with a high proportion of Devonian slate; soils that give the Ahr wines their typical character. Ludwig Kreuzberg does not believe in trendy winemaking techniques. His top wines spend considerable time ageing in barriques.
|03:45 pm Departure.|
|04:00 pm Visit and tasting at winery Julia Bertram in Dernau, Ahr.
This winery was founded by the great-grandfather of the current winemaker and owner, Julia Bertram. In 2012 Julia graduated from the oenological university in Geisenheim. In 2013 she was elected as Wine Queen of Germany. In 2014 she was responsible for her own first vintage. She left a lasting mark with wines that show delicate floral aromas, an elegant minerality, and a nippy acidity. She focuses on Pinot Noir and Pinot Madeleine, a speciality of the Ahr region.
|05:45 pm Departure.|
|06:00 pm Arrival and check-in at Steigenberger Hotel In Bad Neuenahr.
The evening is free for you to explore the charming spa town which is famous for its hot springs. Use the spa facilities of the hotel or take a walk along the tiny Ahr river.
DAY 4: Thursday, June 22
|08:30 am Check-out of hotel and departure.|
|10:00 am Visit and tasting at winery Markus Molitor in Haus Klosterberg, Mosel.
“80% inclination – 94% Riesling – 100% passion” that is the slogan of Markus Molitor, the Falstaff (Austrian life style magazine) winemaker of the year 2014. Ungrafted vines, some of them more than 100 years old, form the basis for the Molitor incomparable, fine Mosel rieslings. This is quite a large estate with 150 acres of vineyards spread out within the Mosel and Saar valley. Because of the diversity of the slate soils and microclimates of the different vineyard sites, the wines at this estate represent every variety of Mosel wine. Due to the extreme steepness of the vineyard sites and passion for quality, everything is harvested by hand. Harvest is a decisive factor for the quality of the wines. Despite the increased risk, Markus Molitor harvests quite late. This gives the grapes time to ripen physiologically – the most important criterion to develop the optimum balance of the wines with increased extract values and animating acidity.
|12:00 pm Departure|
|12:30 pm Lunch (beverages on your own) at Pizzeria Cappuccino Da Pino in Enkirch, Mosel.|
|01:30 pm Visit and tasting at winery Immich-Batterieberg in Enkirch, Mosel.
For two decades this wine estate was a sleeping beauty. In 2009 two families from Hamburg bought the estate, invested heavily, and hired Gernot Kollmann, who converted the winery into one of the top estates in the Mosel valley with passion and relentless energy. The winery looks back on a history of 600 years, and therefore belongs to one of the oldest in the Mosel region. It was founded in 1425 by the Immich family. In 1841 Carl August Immich created the vineyard site Batterieberg (artillery mountain) by using dynamite to blow up the mountain site to form the perfect south-facing slopes with the perfect inclination – hence the name. The vineyards are planted 100% with Riesling and in the, and most vines are more than 60 years old. In view of the extremely steep vineyards all sites are planted in single pole method. Gernot prefers spontaneous fermentation, and in general the “hands off” approach.
|03:30 pm Departure|
|04:15 pm Visit and tasting at winery Fritz Haag (VDP) in Brauneberg, Mosel.
The world-renowned wine estate Fritz Haag lies in the heart of the middle Mosel. It looks back on a 400 year old history. Since 2005 Oliver Haag, together with his wife Jessica, is responsible for the estate. He trained and worked with the best of the best in Germany, such as Helmut Dönnhoff, Bernhard Breuer, and graduated from the Geisenheim oenological university. Oliver Haag continues the philosophy of his father Wilhem Haag, which is the production of fine, fruity, delicate Mosel Rieslings of unmistakable character.
|06:15 pm Departure.|
|06:30 pm Arrival and check-in at hotel Schanz in Piesport, Mosel.|
|07:30 pm Dinner (beverages on your own) at the 2 Michelin star restaurant Schanz.
The Schanz family in Piesport are winemakers. Besides their winery they also opened a small gueshouse, and a wine tavern. In the meantime the guesthouse became a modern, state of the art hotel, and the tavern a 2 Michelin star restaurant. Son Thomas Schanz had ambitions. He trained with top 3 Michelin star chefs and soon enough he received his first Michelin star. In 2016 he was awarded the second Michelin star.
DAY 5: Friday, June 23
|09:00 am Check-out of hotel and departure.|
|09:45 am Visit and tasting at winery Maximin Grünhaus (VDP) in Mertersdorf, Ruwer, Mosel.
The Maximin Grünhaus estate lies at the foot of a long steep south-facing slope on the left bank of the Ruwer river, a tributary of the Mosel river. There is evidence that the Grünhaus was already densly populated during Roman times. In the 7th century the estate was given to the Benedictine monastery of Saint Maximin in Trier. Until the end of the 18th century - when Napoleon secularized all church property - the estate was managed by the Abbey of Saint Maximin. Until 1810 it was held under French administration by the revol. After that time the estate was privatized. It was purchased by the current owner family in 1882. Dr. Carl von Schubert, fifth generation of the family, and son Maximin von Schubert, 6th generation, are the current owners. Carl von Schubert’s doctoral thesis examined the economy of viticulture on steep slopes. The 80 acres of vineyards are planted 90% with Riesling, the rest with Pinot Blanc and Pinot Noir. Viticulture is predominantly organic, the vineyards are planted with a cover crop of wild herbs and grasses, no pesticides or herbicides are used. Yields are restricted to around 45 - 55 hectolitres to ensure top quality.
|12:30 pm Lunch (beverages on your own) at restaurant / hotel Klostermühle in Ockfen, Saar.
|02:00 pm Departure|
|02:15 pm Visit and tasting at winery Egon Müller - Scharzhof (VDP) in Wiltingen, Saar, Mosel.
The legendary Scharzhof is situated in Wiltingen in the Saar river valley. Current owner is Egon Müller. His great great-grandfather purchased the estate from the French Republic in 1797, a few years after the French Revolution and when the French occupied the west bank of the Mosel river. Today the estate has 40 acres under vine – half of which are in the world-renowned Scharzhofberg site. The Scharzhofberg vineyard was very likely already planted by the Romans.
|04:00 pm Departure and short drive to Trier.|
|04:30 pm Arrival and check-in at Schroeders Wein-Style-Hotel in Trier.
|05:15 pm Guided visit of the Amphiteatre and the Roman Baths "Kaiserthermen" in Trier.
Trier sits on the banks of the Mosel River and is the oldest city in Germany. In Roman times it was the largest city north of the Alps, and for some years it even became an imperial city. This 2000 year old city is a treasure trove of Roman and German history, and pagan and Christian culture. There is so much to see in Trier, but the famous landmarks from Roman times are a must: the Porta Nigra, the amphitheatre, and the imperial thermal baths. The most eminent citizen of Trier in modern times was Karl Marx, who was born and raised here.
|The rest of the evening if free for you to discover more of Trier on your own.|
DAY 6: Saturday, June 24
|08:30 am Check-out of hotel and drive to the Nahe wine region.|
|10:30 am Visit and tasting at winery Emrich-Schoenleber (VDP) in Monzingen, Nahe.
The first mentioning of winegrowing in the Schönleber family dates back to the mid-18th century. Today the estate has 45 acres of vineyards and 85% is planted with Riesling. Monzingen is located in the western fringes of the Nahe winegrowing area, with vineyards situated between 160 to 250 metres above sea level, and protected from the north by the Soonwald forest. Werner Schönleber’s rigorous quality control brought the winery to the upper echelon in Germany and beyond. Werner and son Frank’s philosophy of winemaking sais it all: “It is up to us to nurture both soil and vine. We are very careful to ensure that these two elements are healthy and in mutual balance - that is, most importantly, that the yield of the vines is in harmony with the water and nutrients available in the soil. We tend assiduously to each individual vine by hand. In doing so, we can control yields and ensure that the foliage on each vine is always well aerated. This allows the grapes to remain healthy for longer and to be picked late in the harvest at optimum ripeness. Only the minimum of nutrients is drawn from the soil. Except for the juice in the grapes, we ultimately return all the natural goodness back into the vineyard where it belongs. We generally fertilize with good-quality, home-made compost where necessary.”
|12:30 am Departure.|
|12:45 pm Wine pairing luncheon Lunch at restaurant Landgasthof Zur Traube in Meddersheim, Nahe with wines of winery Hexamer.
This restaurant is a hidden gem in the Nahe valley. For more than a decade Chef Herbert Langendorf was a one Michelin star chef with the Ente vom Lehel in Wiesbaden. In 1998 he and his wife Ingrid opened the Landgasthof Zur Traube in Meddersheim. The outstanding Winery Hexamer is just across the street and we will be joined by Harald or Petra Hexamer who will chose their wines to match the menu.
|03:00 pm Departure.|
|03:30 pm Visit and tasting at winery Prinz Salm (VDP) in Schloss Wallhausen, Nahe.
The wine estate of the Princes zu Salm Salm in Wallhausen is the oldest wine estate - established in 1200 - in Germany in continuous ownership of the same family. Today 67 acres of vineyards belong to the winery. Schloss Wallhausen, a majestic castle built in 1565, is also the family home of the Prince zu Salm family. Current owner is Prince Michael, one of the pioneers of organic viticulture in Germany. Already in 1988 he started converting the winery to organic viticulture. Since 2006 Prince Michael’s sons, the 32nd generation of the family, have been given more and more responsibility. Prince Comstantin is the Managing Director and Prince Felix is the winemaker. There are four generations of the family living at Schloss Wallhausen, and all have a legacy in the wine world. The mother, Princess Philippa, originally a countess from the House of Castell-Castell, grew up in a Franconian wine dynasty (I visited the Castell’sche wine estate earlier in June during the Germany East – Wine and Art tour). For 17 years Prince Michael was the national president of the VDP - Verband Deutscher Prädikatsweingüter (Association of German Elite Wine Estates)
|05:15 pm Departure.|
|05:45 pm Arrival and check-in at the NH Hotel in Bingen.
Time to relax and to soak in the gorgeous view towards the vineyards of the Rheingau on the other side of the Rhine river.
|07:00 pm Departure.|
|07:15 pm Dinner with wine pairing at winery and restaurant Kruger-Rumpf (VDP) in Münster-Sarmsheim, Nahe
“In our family, viniculture has been a tradition since 1708 - a tradition that we have been cultivating in our vineyards as well as in our manor house which was built back in 1830” says Georg Rumpf. Today, the vineyard totals about 50 acres and the annual production is 14,000 cases. Georg Rumpf has taken over the winemaking at Weingut Kruger-Rumpf, while his father Stefan now focuses more on sales, and his mother Cornelia manages the restaurant. The wines, gourmet regional food, the hospitality and warmth of the family, and the ambiance in this lovely estate where modernism is perfectly combined with tradition, are outstanding.
|10:00 pm Back at hotel.|
DAY 7: Sunday, June 25
|09:30 am Check-out of hotel and departure.|
|10:15 am Visit and tasting at winery Fritz Allendorf (VDP) in Oestrich-Winkel, Rheingau.
The winery Fritz Allendorf is almost as long as the Prince Salm estate in the hands of one family. It was founded in 1292 by Fritz and Lotte Allendorf. Today the brother and sister team, Ulrich Allendorf and Christel Schönleber run the estate. This is a fairly large winery with 143 acres around Östrich-Winkel and in top vineyard sites in Rüdesheim and Assmannshausen. The vienyards are planted with 75 % Riesling, 20 % Pinot Noir and with the rare red Riesling, “Roter Riesling”. Roter Riesling was brought back from the brink of extinction by the Fritz Allendorf winery in cooperation with the Geisenheim Grape Breeding Institute. Ulrich Allendorf is an innovative winemaker and manager. In 2003 he and his sister opened the worldwide unique “Allendorf Wine Experience World” where visitors can experience aromas and flavors of wine under the influence of various colors of light.
|12:15 pm Departure.|
|12:45 pm Wine pairing luncheon at restaurant Graues Haus in Winkel.
The “Graues Haus” is one of the oldest stone houses in Germany. It belonged to the Greiffenclau family, the owners of Schloss Vollrads, until 1997 when Count Erwein Matuschka-Greiffenclau died. After his death, the State of Hessen took over, and very recently, in 2016 a private investor bought the house and reopend it as a restaurant. In its heydays the “Graue Haus” stood for refined cuisine and was home of a one Michelin star restaurant. Everyone in the Rheingau region hopes that the legendary “Graue Haus” will soon be again a destination for wine and food lovers.
|02:30 pm Departure.|
|03:15 pm Arrival at Frankfurt International Airport.|