Germany South / Alsace - ITINERARY
German Pinot Country - The Culinary South and Alsace
Discover Germany’s southern wine regions and fabulous Pinot Noir. Explore Baden, the southernmost and internationally fairly unknown region that produces outstanding Pinot Noirs (in German: Spätburgunder), and whites from Burgundy grapes and other varietals. We travel through the famous Black Forest to explore winemaking at Lake Constance. We will spend one night in an epicurean's dream destination in the Kaiserstuhl to indulge in true southern German hospitality and gourmet food. We will step across the Rhine River to compare the very different wines of the eastern (German) and western (French) Rhine valley and we will get a feel for beautiful, quaint Alsace with its picturesque wine villages dotted with half-timbered century old buildings. Enjoy the Pfalz and Rheinhessen with its gently rolling hills, sumptuous red and white wines, and a generation of young, ambitious, up and coming winemakers.
|Baden • Alsace • Pfalz • Rheinhessen|
May 09 - May 17, 2018
Accommodation: 8 nights:
|Nights 1 + 2: Wednesday, May 09 and Thursday, May 10:|
|Romantik Hotel Residenz am See in Meersburg, Bodensee (Lake Constance), Baden, a 4 ½ star, family run exquisite hotel on the banks of Lake Constance. This hotel offers warm hospitality, a fabulous wine cellar, and an extraordinary idyllic location with an unobstructed view on the lake and across the water towards the Swiss Alps.|
|Night 3: Friday, May 11:|
|Hotel Schwarzer Adler in Oberbergen, Kaiserstuhl, a 4 ½ star family run hotel and well-known address for a refined life style. With its 1 Michelin star restaurant and top notch winery it is an epicurean’s dream destination. It is listed in the association of “Small Luxury Hotels of the World”.|
|Night 4: Saturday, May 12:|
|Hotel Le Schoenenbourg in Riquewhir, Alsace, a 4 star hotel with a great outdoor pool, nestled at the foot of vine-covered rolling hills just outside of the city gate of Riquewhir, a true eye candy! This is one of the most charming, romantic Alsatian wine towns.|
|Night 6: Sunday, May 13:|
|Hotel Ritter von Böhl in Deidesheim, Pfalz, a 3 star very unique guest house with a 700 year old history. From its foundation over 700 years ago, it continuously served as a ‘Hotel”. Yet it was only recently that the house was converted to a hotel in our definition of modern times: to provide lodging to the traveler. Since its foundation in the 13th century it served as a “Hotel Dieu”, a hospital and home for the sick, the poor, and the elderly. Still today it caters to the handicapped, and while we are in modern times, internet connection however can sometimes be very poor because the more than 1 meter thick old 700 year old walls obstruct the signal flow.|
|Night 7: Monday, May 14:|
|Landhotel Altes Wasserwerk in Freinsheim, Pfalz, a 4 star unique hotel located next to the town center. In the old days the historic main building of the hotel was a water treatment plant – hence the name. With a modern annex, the hotel is a perfect example of combining history and a modern spirit.|
|Night 8: Tuesday, May 15:|
|Hotel Hilton in Mainz, a modern 5 star hotel situated on the edge of old town Mainz on the picturesque banks of the mighty Rhine River.|
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: Saturday, September 30
|09:30 am Departure by coach from Frankfurt am Main.|
|11:00 am Visit at winery Schloss Neuweier (VDP) in Baden-Baden Neuweier, Ortenau, Baden.
Wine has been produced at this impressive 13th century castle for more than 700 years. About 100 years ago Riesling became the dominant grape and passion. Still today, winemaking takes place in the vaulted cellars that date back to the 17th century. The Rieslings grown in the steep vineyards produce sumptuous, racy wines with delicate fruit. In 2012 the Schätzle family bought the estate and continues to produce wines of uncompromising quality. Robert Schätzle, the winemaker, studied oenology and comes from a family with a long tradition of winemaking in the Kaiserstuhl region to the south.
|12:00 pm Wine pairing lunch at Röttele’s 1 Michelin starred restaurant in Schloss Neuweier.
The restaurant in the beautiful old castle is gorgeous and the owner Armin Röttele is a 1-Michelin star chef. He will prepare an exquisite menu featuring the wines of Robert Schätzle. Robert will be with us for the luncheon and will conduct the tasting along with the courses of the menu.
|02:30 pm Departure and drive to Lake Constance. On our way we will cross the Black Forest and enjoy beautiful views.|
|05:30 pm Arrival and check-in at Romantik Hotel Residenz am See, Meersburg, Bodensee (Lake Constance), Baden.
Relax at the gorgeous hotel or enjoy a walk along the shore of the lake. Dinner is on your own.
|07:30 pm Reception, and Concert with the A-Capella Ensemble "Männer und Tenöre" at winery Aufricht in Meersburg-Stetten.
The winery Aufricht is beautifully situated right at the shore of Lake Constance. The idyllic location in combination with the elegant, and modern architecture and the view on the lake and the Swiss Alps in the distance make this winery the perfect spot for a romantic concert. Before and after the concert we have the opportunity to taste the Aufricht wines.
The Aufricht winery has been founded seventy years ago by the father and grandfather of the current generations. Today the winery has 75 acres of vineyards. 80 % of the vineyards are planted with Burgundy grapes (30% Pinot Noir, 20% Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, Auxerrois, Chardonnay 10% respectively), the remainder with Müller-Thurgau, Muskateller, Riesling, Sauvignon-Blanc. The Aufrecht signature wines are two Pinot Blancs cuvées, the perfectly balanced Pinot Blanc – Pinot Gris cuvée and the Pinot Blanc – Chardonnay cuvée.
DAY 2: Sunday, October 01
|09:30 pm Departure from hotel.|
|10:00 am Guided visit of Schloss Salem.
Salem castle is an impressive ensemble of majestic buildings. It was founded as a Cistercian Abbey in 1134, when Bernard de Clairvaux ventured from his home base Burgundy to establish Cistercian monasteries on the eastern banks of the Rhine river. In a very short time Salem Abbey developed into one of the leading abbeys in southern Germany. Salem experienced a second period of affluence during the Baroque era. It is fascinating to see the Gothic buildings, in particular the Minster decorated with its unique alabaster plasterwork and the ornately Baroque style decorated rooms in the Palace. After secularization during the Napoleonic era Schloss Salem came into the possession of the Markgraf von Baden, the ruler of the Kingdom of Baden, and the ownership has not changed since then. Schloss Salem is also home of the prestigious boarding school Schule Schloss Salem. Kurt Hahn, a respected educator, who later was instrumental in establishing the International School system and the IB (International Baccaleurate) founded the school in 1920 with support of Prince Max of Baden. The student dorms are in the former monk cells and the monk’s spirit and simplicity of life can still be felt today.
|12:00 pm Lunch (beverages on your own) at Salem wine tavern.
The town of Salem is basically the castle and its surroundings. The tavern is located on the beautiful castle grounds.
|01:30 pm Visit and tasting at winery Markgraf von Baden (VDP) at Salem, Baden.
As it was customary the Cistercian monks produced wine to support themselves and the abbey. Thus this winery has a long history. This winery comprises two estates, the bigger one at Schloss Salem on the northern shore of Lake Constance and the one in the Ortenau, at Schloss Staufenberg. The two estates together with 335 acres of vineyards make for one of the largest privately owned wine estates in Germany. Owner is HRH Prince Bernhard von Baden (see picture). The aristocratic dynasty, ones the rulers of the Kingdom of Baden can look back to more than 600 years of viticulture tradition. It was the Markgraf von Baden who as early as in the 15th century introduced the first wine law and innovative viticultural practices. We have the opportunity to taste wines from both, the Salem estate and the Staufenberg estate and it will be interesting to see the difference due to the very different soils and climatic conditions.
|03:30 pm Departure.|
|04:00 pm Guided tour of the open air museum of the Lake Dwellings in Unteruhldingen, Lake Constance.
Rediscover the sunken village of Unteruhldingen and everyday life in the Stone and Bronze Age about 4000 – 850 BC. It is fascinating to see the pole dwellings and to imagine life many thousand years ago. These villages constructed on poles in the water were common in lake regions throughout Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Austria, Spain, and other lake regions in central Europe. At Lake Constance about 100 of those settlements are known. The lake dwellings or pole dwellings settlements are part of the UNESCO World Heritage.
|05:00 pm Departure.|
|05:30 pm Visit of the Basilica Birnau.
The Basilica Birnau is a Baroque jewel and sits majestically on a hill high above Lake Constance. It was built in 1749 and has been a pilgrimage church since then. The interior is richly decorated in the Rococo style and the church is one of the most beautiful Baroque churches in all of Germany, not least because of its unrivalled position overlooking Lake Constance and its surrounding vineyards. The church is still in the hands of the Cistercian monks.
|06:15 pm Back at hotel.
The evening is free for you to relax, since we have an early start tomorrow. Soak in the incredible charm of Meersburg and Lake Constance. Dinner on your own.
DAY 3: Monday, October 02
|08:00 am Check out of hotel and departure from Lake Constance. We again cross the Black Forest to arrive in the Rhine plains.|
|11:00 am Visit and tasting at winery Löffler in Wettenberg, Markgräfler Land, Baden.
The Löffler family is a typical Markgräfler family. Four generations are living and working together to produce excellent wines and to run the „Strausse“, a seasonal wine tavern. They farm 35 acres of vineyards planted with Burgundy grapes, Sauvignon Blanc, and Gutedel. Gutedel is more known under the name „Chasselat“ or „Fendant“ as the signature white grape varietal of Switzerland. Gutedel has also become the signature grape of Switzerland's next door neighbor, the Markgräfler Land. It is regarded as oldest known grape variety, grown in Egypt 5000 years ago. In the late 18 hundreds the Chasselat grape was brought from Vervey, Switzerland to the Markgräfler Land.
|01:00 pm Departure.|
|01:15 pm Lunch (beverages on your own) at restaurant Der Löwen in Staufen.
Staufen is an incredibly picturesque village with the romantic Schlossberg, with it’s ruin on top and vineyards on the slopes. Time seems to have come to a standstill here.
|03:00 pm Departure from Staufen.|
|03:30 pm Check in at Hotel Schwarzer Adler, in Oberbergen.
This hotel and its restaurant run by Bettina and Fritz Keller is an epicurean's dream destination for foodies and wine aficionados in all of Germany, as well as of neighboring Alsace and Switzerland.
|04:30 pm Visit and tasting at winery Fritz Keller (VDP) in Oberbergen, Kaiserstuhl, Baden.
With the Keller family, which can trace its roots as winemakers and hoteliers back to the Thirty Year War in the early 17-hundreds, everything started with producing and offering outstanding food. Franz and his wife Irma, parents of the current owner, were among the first generation of chefs to start the German revolution in the kitchen more than forty years ago. Well beyond the immediate post WWII era, the urge to simply have enough food on the table – quantity over quality- lingered on. In 1969 Franz and Irma Keller and their restaurant Schwarze Adler were awarded one Michelin star, which the restaurant defends until today. For Franz Keller, the central idea of winemaking was to produce top quality wines that perfectly accompanied the creations in the kitchen. The current generation, Fritz and Bettina Keller have brought the winery to a new level. They just finished construction of a brand new winery that is an architectural landmark, beautifully integrated in the landscape. Their efforts to produce top wines, among them stunning Pinot Noirs, were acknowledged by their selection as member of the VDP in 2013.
|07:30 pm Dinner (wine on your own) at restaurant Schwarzer Adler in Oberbergen, Kaiserstuhl, Baden.
This 1-Michelin star traditional restaurant run Bettina and Fritz Keller offers a harmonious mix of Baden country charm and elegance. The menu is a successful marriage of French and German cuisine reflecting the frontier on the nearby Rhine River, which is the border between Germany and France. The impressive wine list boasts 2 600 different wines, including an excellent selection of bottles from Baden and a mouthwatering list of wines from France, in particular from Bordeaux. The Kellers are Bordeaux lovers and also Bordeaux wine merchants. Their vaulted storage cellar hewn into the rocks across the street makes your palate water when looking at the aisles of Bordeaux cases with only the top names on them. If time permits, Melanie Wagner, the fantastic sommelière of the Schwarze Adler- just received the sommelier of the year award - will show us the cellar. After dinner we just need to climb the stairs to our rooms and dream about the outstanding food and wines we had.
DAY 4: Tuesday, October 03
|09:30 am Check out of hotel and departure from Oberbergen.|
|10:15 am Visit and tasting at winery Huber (VDP) in Malterdingen, Breisgau, Baden.
The Huber Estate is located in Malterdingen in the Breisgau area. More than 700 years ago, Cistercian monks came to Malterdingen, and found the same terroir as in Burgundy and thus started to plant Pinot Noir grapes. Still today, in many reference books on grape varieties, “Malterdinger” is used as a synonym for Pinot Noir. In 1987 Bernhard Huber and his wife Barbara started their own estate, leaving the co-operative where they produced wine before. They now own 65 acres of vineyards of which 70% is planted with Pinot Noir and the rest with Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, a little bit of Muskateller, Riesling, and Müller-Thurgau. All Huber wines are dry. Bernhard Huber does not produce any botrytised noble sweet wines or ice wines, nor does he chaptalize or add sweet reserve (Suessreserve) to generate sweetness in the finished wine. All his wines are fully fermented, dry and at around 13.5 percent alcohol. Bernhard regularly received the highest awards for his Pinot Noir and became something of a legend for producing top Pinot Noirs that can compete with the best of Burgundy. Bernhard Huber, only 53 years old, died in June after a battle with cancer. His son Julian keeps Bernhard Huber's vision of wine making alive and continues with the family tradition of producing top quality wines.
|12:15 pm Departure.
We will leave the Baden area on the right bank of the Rhine River, at the foot of the Black Forest Mountains, and cross over the Rhine river into France, into the Alsace region. This lies just across from Baden on the left bank of the Rhine at the foot of the Vosges Mountains. Last year we passed by a line of tractors belonging to small growers queueing up to deliver their grapes at the local wine cooperative.
|01:00 pm Lunch (beverages on your own) at Le Restaurant de l'Hôtel L'Europe in Horbourg Wihr, Alsace.
|03:00 pm Departure. We will drive to Kaysersberg passing vine-covered hills of beautiful Alsace.|
|03:45 pm Arrival and check-in at hotel Les Remparts in Kaysersberg, Alsace.
The rest of the afternoon and the evening and dinner are free for you to discover the Alsace on your own.
Soak in the incredible beautiful little town of Kaysersberg, the birthplace of Dr. Albert Schweitzer, theologian, organist, philosopher, and physician, who is mostly known for his work at the hospital in Lambarene, Gabon, and as recipient of the Nobel Peace Price in 1952. Visit the Albert Schweitzer museum, shop for some traditional Alsatian pottery, or have a stroll through the vineyards up to the ruins of the Kaysersberg fortress. If some of you would like to visit Colmar (a 15 minute drive), our driver can take you to Colmar. Colmar is the little sister city of Strassbourg. Because of its smaller size, its historic, incredibly charming city center can easily be explored by foot and the Museum Unterlinden with the famous masterpiece – the Isenheim Altarpiece - of Matthias Grünwald is worth a visit. The evening and dinner is on your own. There are numerous winstubs and restaurants in Kaysersberg and Colmar to choose from.
DAY 5: Wednesday, October 04
|09:00 am Departure from hotel.|
|09:15 am Visit and tasting at Domaine Hugel & Fils in Riquewihr, Alsace.
The Hugel family have been winegrowers since 1639. During the 18th and 19th centuries, the Hugel family gained an enviable reputation for their winegrowing skills and for the meticulous way in which they cultivated their vineyards. In 1902, Frédéric Emile Hugel left the old family property and established himself in premises in the centre of Riquewihr which still form the heart of the family business. The Hugel family have been instrumental for the official recognition for Alsace late-harvest "Vendange Tardive" and "Sélection de Grains Nobles" wines. They also introduced the “Gentil” wines, a blend like the “Edelzwicker” but only allowed for blending the four noble grapes of Alsace: Riesling, Pinot Gris, Mucat, Gewürztraminer. Huegel et Fils have three principal wine lines: (i) Hugel Maison: Wines made from grapes purchased from winegrowers under long-term contract, in a dozen of vineyards around Riquewihr. (ii) Hugel Tradition: Wines are also made from grapes purchased, but with a stricter selection of grapes. (iii) Hugel Jubilee: These wines come exclusively from the vineyards in the "Hugel" estates, and are made in only the very best vintages.
|11:45 am Departure from Riquewihr.|
|12:00 pm Lunch (beverages on your own) at restaurant Caveau du Vigneron in Turckheim.
This is a traditional Alsatian restaurant serving excellent local specialities.
|01:30 pm Visit and tasting at Domaine Zind-Humbrecht in Turckheim, Alsace.
The domaine Zind-Humbrecht is unquestionably one of the greatest domaines in Alsace. “Winegrowing is a passion that has been passed down from father to son in the Humbrecht family since the 17th century. Domaine Humbrecht today comprises of 100 acres of vines, spread out over an array of different terroirs in the geological patchwork which is the Alsatian wine region and birthplace of our noble grape varieties.” That’s how the Humbrechts describe their domaine. The domaine was established in 1959 through the amalgamation of the Humbrecht vineyards in Gueberschwihr, and the Zind Family vineyards in Wintzenheim, following the marriage of Léonard Humbrecht and Geneviève Zind. Today their son Oliver Humbrecht, who is the first Frenchman to have received the Master of Wine title, and Léonard Humbrecht run the domaine. Since 1997 the vineyards are farmed biodynamically. Work in the vineyards is organized according to the lunar calendar, and burying cow horns to improve the vitality of the soil, as well as preparing natural compost at home are some of many practices followed at the Zind Humbrecht domaine.
|03:30 pm Departure from Turckheim and short drive to Bergheim.|
|04:00 pm Visit and tasting at Domaine Marcel Deiss in Bergheim, Alsace.
For old world standards this is a relatively new winery, founded after World War II, although the family Deiss has been involved in winemaking since they settled in Bergheim in 1744. Today they farm 80 acres of vineyards according to biodynamic principles. The Marcel Deiss Domaine became certified by Ecocert and Demeter for making biodynamic and organic wines already in 1998. The husband and wife team Jean Michel Deiss and Clarisse Deiss not only stand out because of their believe in biodynamie they also have a strong believe in the concept of “terroir”, the characteristics in soil, climate, and micro-climate of the vineyard. To them the grape varietal does not matter much, and logically most of their wines are field blends of different varietals – a highly unusual approach. All the wines of this domaine I ever tasted showed a stunning complexity and an intense minerality due to the specific terroir. This domaine produces incredible high quality wines.
|06:00 pm Departure.
This short drive back to Kaysersberg takes us along the Alsation wine trail.
|07:30 pm Dinner (beverages on your own) at the 1 Michelin star restaurant L'Alchémille in Kaysersberg.
Chef Jérome Jaegle is a native of Kaysersberg. He left his home town to train with top chefs elsewhere. Nine months ago he returned home with his wife and they opened the restaurant L'Alchémille in Kaysersberg. His new restaurant immediately caught the attention of the foodies and in the new Michelin guide his efforts were rewarded with one Michelin star. We will have his 7 course tasting menu and I am sure that it will be a sensations experience.
DAY 6: Thursday, October 05
|08:15 am Check out of hotel and departure.
We drive back north to Germany through the beautiful Alsatian country side. We stay on the French side of the Rhine River and cross into the Pfalz region of Germany in Wissembourg. This will be a pretty drive, since we will follow the Alsatian wine trail for some miles before we continue on the autoroute.continue our journey north on the left side of the Rhine River and stay on the French side to cross into the Pfalz region of Germany in Wissembourg.
|10:30 am Vineyard tour, cellar tour, and tasting at winery Jülg in Schweigen, Pfalz.
This winery is unique. The vineyards are in two countries - Germany and France- due to the winery’s situation right on the German/French border and the constant back and forth of this region between France and Germany. In this area the Rhine rift created many different soil types which present favorable conditions for planting a wide variety of grapes. Karin Jülg runs the wine tavern which is known for outstanding traditional Pfälzer cuisine. In the mid 80s Werner Jülg converted the family winery from a low-end mass producing winery -so typical for the Pfalz in those days-, into a wine estate that produces outstanding wines of the highest quality. He is also known for his excellent Sekt making: the Blanc de Noir produced in the Method Champenoise with traditional Champagne grapes is absolutely delicious. Winery Jülg produces only dry wines mostly with traditional Burgundy grapes. The oldest son Johannes is now working in the winery to continue with the family tradition. He will take us through his vineyards on the German and French side and we will also pay a visit to his uncle’s winery Maison Jülg which is in Alsace. This is a fantastic opportunity to directly compare wines from the Pfalz and Alsace.
|01:30 pm Lunch with wine at wine tavern Jülg.
Grandmother Erika Jülg reins over the kitchen at this cosy wine tavern. Her traditional, hearty Pfalz dishes are delicious, and prepared with lots of love.
Before our departure we have a bit of time to take a look at the Deutsches Weintor (German Wine Gate), a landmark built in 1936 which greets the traveler when coming from France. It also marks the beginning of the German Wine Trail. You can climb 18 meters to the top and enjoy the view over the breathtakingly beautiful landscape south towards the Alsace and north towards the Pfalz. Time to take a look at the Deutsches Weintor (German Wine Gate), a landmark built in 1936 which greets the traveler when coming from France. It also marks the beginning of the German Wine Trail. You can climb 18 meters to the top and enjoy the view over the breathtakingly beautiful landscape south towards the Alsace and north towards the Pfalz.
|03:00 pm Departure from Schweigen.|
|03:45 pm Cellar tour and tasting at winery Ökonomierat Rebholz (VDP) in Siebeldingen, Pfalz.
Hansjörg and Birgit Rebholz, the third generation of the Rebholz family continue what the founder, the Ökonomierat Eduard Rebholz began: producing highly individualistic wines by working as close as possible with nature. The Rebholz wines do not undergo any chaptalization, fining, or deacidifying nor will sweet reserve be added. The Rebholz wines are crystal clear, sharp, clean, simply beautiful in their transparency and underscore the individuality of the terroir, the climate, and the grape. 75% of the 47 acres under vine are planted with Riesling and the Burgundy grapes, 10% with Chardonnay and the rest with Silvaner, Sauvignon Blanc, Muskateller and Gewürztraminer. Due to the purity the wines have an enormous ageing potential. Hansjörg Rebholz was nominated as winemaker of the year 2013 by the Austrian lifestyle magazine Falstaff.
|05:45 pm Departure.|
|07:00 pm Arrival and check-in at Hotel Ritter von Böhl in Deidesheim, Pfalz.
The hotel is in the town center, so everything in Deidesheim is in walking distance.
Evening and dinner on your own after a long days journey. Take the time and explore Deidesheim, a small, picturesque village with half-timbered houses and rustic wine taverns as well as several gourmet restaurants. Time takes on a different meaning in this part of Germany; sipping a glass of wine, savoring delicious local specialties, that’s what is important. The former German chancellor Helmut Kohl, who lives close by, made Deidesheim famous, as he took his powerful guests, such as Margaret Thatcher, the King and Queen of Spain, and Michail Gorbatschow, to Deidesheim to try the Saumagen, his favorite dish.
DAY 7: Friday, October 06
|09:00 am Check out of hotel.|
|09:15 am Cellar tour and tasting at winery Reichsrat von Buhl (VDP) in Deidesheim, Pfalz.
The winery Reichsrat von Buhl can look back to a rich history. It was founded in 1849 by Franz Peter Buhl. He added the vineyards inherited by his wife, a member of the Jordan dynasty. These latter vineyards came from the break-up of the original Jordan estate into three parts, with the other two parts giving rise to what is today known as Geheimer Rat Dr. von Weingut Bassermann-Jordan and Weingut von Winning - Dr. Deinhard, all also in Deidesheim. Son Franz Armand Buhl inherited the estate. He was a member of the Reichstag and a friend of Chancellor Otto von Bismarck. Chancellor Bismarck’s famous quote "Dieses Ungeheuer schmeckt mir ungeheuer" this Ungeheuer tastes monstrously good, (Ungeheuer, means “monster” in english) helped make the Forster Ungeheuer vineyard site world-famous. In 1885, Franz Armand Buhl was awarded the title “Reichsrat” der bayerischen Krone, (The Pfalz belonged to the Kingdom of Bavaria in those days) hence the name of the winery. The Buhl wines were very famous and reached the upper price brackets in those days. At the official inauguration of the Suez Canal in 1869 a Buhl Riesling was served. Recently the tradition of making Sekt at the winery has seen a renaissance. Matthieu Kauffmann, enologist at the Champagne House Bollinger was hired to make Germany’s best Riesling Sekt. The first vintage, the 2013 Reichrat von Buhl Sekt, Brut was hyped as the best Sekt ever made in Germany and as close to a grand Champagne as it could get.
|11:15 am Visit of winery Josef Biffar in Deidesheim, Pfalz.
The Biffar winery is a young enterprise with a 130 old history. In 2013 the Biffar family sold the estate to the Tokuoka family, entrepreneurs from Japan. Driving force behind this acquisition was Fumiko Tokuoka, who studied oenology and winemaking at the famous Geisenheim school in the Rheingau. After working for almost two decades in marketing for German wineries and as winemaker at winery Reichsrat von Buhl, she took the opportunity to pursue her dream to make her own wine.
|12:00 pm Lunch with wine pairing at restaurant FUMI within the winery Joseph Biffar in Deidesheim, Pfalz.
This luncheon will be a special treat. German wine and Asian food is a perfect combination and who would be better suited than Fumiko Tokuoka, a native Japanese and owner and winemaker at winery Biffar to pair her German wines from her adopted country with the cuisine of her homeland.
|01:30 pm Departure from Deidesheim.|
|02:00 pm Visit and tasting at winery Rings (VDP) in Freinsheim, Pfalz.
The foundation for today's winery was laid by the previous generation, which farmed grapes and other fruit right up until the turn of the millennium. Son Steffen Rings started to make wine at the estate in 2001. His brother Andreas joined the family winery later after he finished his vocational training. In 2008 the brothers teamed up and have been running the estate together since then. With its steady expansion over the last few years, the now 75 acres of vineyards are planted with an even split between red and white grape varieties. The vineyards now include many of the best sites in Freinsheim, Kallstadt and Ungstein. The family strives to produce distinctive wines that reflect the singular character of the vineyards as well as the unique signature of the winemaker. In mid 2015 the winery Rings was admitted to the VDP. This membership crowns the tireless effort of the brothers to strive for top quality wines.
|04:00 pm Check in at Landhotel Altes Wasserwerk in Freinsheim.
Explore the picturesque wine village Freinsheim which sits embedded in a sea of vineyards near the Palatinate Forest. With its baroque historic center, the narrow streets and the well preserved town wall Freinsheim is one of the most beautiful towns along the “German Wine Trail”.
|05:00 pm Departure.|
|05:15 pm Visit and tasting at winery Knipser (VDP) in Laumersheim, Pfalz.
The Knipser family, originally from South Tirol, have lived in Laumersheim since 1876. As is the case with many wineries in the Pfalz, and in Rheinhessen in the old days it was a mixed farming business, and the grapes were sold to the local wine co-operative. In the 1940s they began bottling their own wines and in the early 80s they began aiming at producing top quality wines. Since then the quality of the wines improved tremendously and the Knipsers continue working on optimizing quality and on interpreting the character of a vineyard site, particularly for their Grosses Gewächs (Grand Cru) Riesling and Pinot Noir wines. About 95% of their wines are dry. The 150 acres of vineyards are planted with Riesling, the Burgundy grapes as well as non-traditional grapes such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, and Sauvignon-Blanc. They are also known for producing cuvees. The “Gaudenz” a cuvée of Cabernet-Sauvignon, some Dornfelder, Merlot, and other red varietals depending on the vintage is a well liked “Bordeaux” style wine. In 2009 Knipser was awarded the “winemaker of the year” title by the Gault&Millau Wineguide Germany.
|07:00 pm Departure.|
|07:15 pm Wine pairing dinner at the sophisticated restaurant Knipser's Halbstück, which belongs to the winery.
|09:30 pm Back at hotel in Freinsheim.|
DAY 8: Saturday, October 07
|08:45 am Check out of hotel, departure, and crossing into the Rheinhessen wine region.|
|09:15 am Vineyard tour, cellar tour, and tasting at winery Battenfeld-Spanier (VDP) in Hohen-Sülzen, Rheinhessen.
Hans Oliver Spanier founded his own winery in 1993. It is situated in the southern-most tip of Rheinhessen, the Wonnegau. The 70 acres of vineyards are planted with 60% Riesling, 20% Pinot Noir, and the rest with Pinot Blanc and Silvaner. H.O. is an uncompromising winemaker and from early on he worked with respecting nature and the environment. In 1993 his winery became organic. Over the years he converted to biodynamic practices in the vineyards and cellar and since 2005 the winery works 100% biodynamically. The Wonnegau vineyards are transversed by thick, underground beds of limestone. For H.O. the Riesling acts best as translator that interprets the influence of the extremely lime-rich soils. I quote him: ”That’s what interests me: the spectrum of aromas of the stones and soils that lies beyond the fleeting sensation of fruit”.
|11:15 am Departure.|
|11:30 am Cellar visit, and tasting at winery Wittmann (VDP) in Westhofen, Rheinhessen.
This winery in Westhofen has been in the hands of the Wittmann family since 1663. Attachment to the native soil runs deep and in order to leave a legacy of healthy soil and vines the vineyards are farmed biodynamically. The old vaulted underground cellar with its consistent temperature provides the perfect conditions for the wine to ferment spontaneously with its own natural yeast in wooden casks. The 62 acres of vineyards are planted primarily with Riesling. Because of the almost mediterranean climate in southern Rheinhessen, the Burgundy grapes also have a long tradition in viticulture. Philipp Wittmann, the current owner, regularly gets awards for his wines.
|01:30 pm Lunch (beverages on your own) at butcher and restaurant Deutsches Haus in Westhofen.
|02:45 pm Departure.|
|03:15 pm Visit and tasting at winery Brüder Dr. Becker (VDP) in Ludwigshöhe, Rheinhessen.
The winery was founded in the early 20th century by the two brothers Dr. Johann and Dr. Jakob Becker. Today, it is run by Lotte Pfeffer-Müller and Hans Müller, the third generation of the family. The vineyard area totals 30 acres hectares. A third is planted with Riesling, the rest with Silvaner, Scheurebe, Pinot Noir, Müller-Thurgau, Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, Regent, and Gewürztraminer. Lotte Pfeffer-Müller was among the pioneers in Germany to introduce organic viticulture practices, and she implemented these practices in the mid 80s in her winery. A weather station was installed in the vineyards to assist in determining the optimum time for picking. Wines are matured either in stainless steel or in traditional oak barrels, and in the case of the Pinot Noir also in barriques. Bottle-fermented sparkling wine is also produced. They are member of ECOVIN, the organic winegrower association in Germany with nearly 200 members. Lotte Pfeffer-Müller is chairwomen of the Board of ECOVIN.
|05:15 pm Departure.|
|05:45 pm Arrival in Mainz and check in at the Hilton Hotel.
Discover Mainz on your own. Evening and dinner on your own.
In Mainz - one of the ten Wine Capitals of the world - wine is ubiquitous. Discover the typical local wine taverns and have traditional Määnzer food such as Fleischwurst, Handkäs mit Musik, Nackesche. "Weck, Wurscht, and Woi" (bread rolls, sausages, and wine) that's the slogan of Mainz.
DAY 9: Sunday, October 08
|09:15 am Walking tour through Mainz.
Mainz is the birth place of Johannes Gutenberg, the man who gave the world the power to print, to pass on written information, and hence to develop our digital future. We will trace Johannes Gutenberg’s steps in Mainz.
|10:00 am Stiftsamt in the Mainz Cathedral.
If you desire to attend a very special, spiritual service every Sunday a “Stiftsamt” conducted by the Cardinal of Mainz with choir and organ concert takes place in the mighty, impressive 1000 year old cathedral.
|11:30 am Check out of hotel and short drive to Nierstein.|
|12:00 pm Cellar tour, and wine pairing lunch at winery Kai Schätzel (VDP) in Nierstein, Rheinhessen.
Before arriving at the winery we will stop at the Red Slope, the famous vineyard with its outstanding terroir. From there you will have a breathtaking view of surrounding vineyards, the Rhine river, and the Frankfurt skyline in the distance. The Schätzel family has been making wine for 650 years, for 5 generations at the current location: the General von Zastrow Estate. Today, the winery is owned and managed by Kai Schätzel, who belongs to the ambitious, up and coming young generation of winemakers in Rheinhessen. When he became fully responsible, he decided to change course at Weingut Schätzel and to aim at becoming a nationally and internationally recognized premium wine producer. His efforts were acknowledged just recently by being awarded membership in the VDP, the exclusive Association of Premium German Wine Estates. Kai will show us the impressive 800 year old vaulted underground cellar where fermentation still takes place today. Weather permitting, lunch will be served in the beautiful garden. The stunning wines, the historical setting, the hospitality and warmth of this family, the German “Gemütlichkeit” will make the perfect finale for our tour.
|02:30 pm Departure|
|03:00 pm Arrival at Frankfurt airport.