Wine Touring tips wanted for SW Germany and Alsace

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Wine Touring tips wanted for SW Germany and Alsace

Postby Sue Courtney » Mon Jul 01, 2013 6:30 pm

Our plan is to pick up a rental in Frankfurt, drive west to the Mosel via the Rheingau and wend our way south alongside the river to Saarbrucken, spend 4-5 nights in Alsace then back to Frankfurt via the Rheinhessen Weinstrasse. Maybe even take a photo at the gateway!
I have spoken to people about this in Wine Chat but the words fly off the screen and I've lost my scribbled notes.
How do winery visits operate in these area. Are there 'cellar doors', or does one have to make appointments. Any advice, tips, etc. TIA.
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Re: Wine Touring tips wanted for SW Germany and Alsace

Postby Tim York » Tue Jul 02, 2013 6:55 am

Sounds like a great trip. Don't try to fit in too many winery visits. They take time and the roads, outside the autobahn/autoroute systems, are mostly not suitable for fast driving.

Some estates have an open cellar door policy, usually the bigger ones with some staff. Nevertheless I always recommend making an appointment, particularly if you want to meet the boss and/or the winemaker. Most European wineries don't charge for visits. It is not inevitable that there will be someone available who speaks English, particularly at the smaller estates.
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Re: Wine Touring tips wanted for SW Germany and Alsace

Postby Sue Courtney » Tue Jul 02, 2013 9:58 am

Thanks Tim I don't think we will be making appointments as we will be driving aimlessly with no idea where we are going, no idea of how far we will travel each day, no idea where will stay each night and probably no phone. I can send emails but may not get a reply while still online. If the wineries have 'open' signs that will help us. Do they have open signs?

Hopefully we can pick up a wine map from an information centre. One or perhaps two visits a day. I'm sure there is going to be so much else to see. And we've already noted some famous vineyard names, like Berkastler Doctor, etc. And hence we won't mind the slow roads once we get into the wine areas 'cos we will want to stop and take pictures. Is there an autobahn in the Mosel?
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Re: Wine Touring tips wanted for SW Germany and Alsace

Postby David Creighton » Tue Jul 02, 2013 10:56 am

there are usually 'open' signs when they are encouraging visitors. zind humbrecht requires reservations and many of the other big places like trimbach prefer them. the coops - esp Jean Geiler are 'open'. geiler is also quite good as is the coop at kientzheim/keyserberg. for alsace you need to choose a base - smaller village(s) or city. i stay in colmar because it is central and you can walk to a number of good restaurants at night. i've stayed at Colombier and Turenne - which are different price ranges about a block from each other. turenne has the advantage of closed parking while you need to use on street parking at colombier and have to move your car every morning. i liked ribeauville and eguisheim for walking around. wineries in villages are usually 'open'.
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Re: Wine Touring tips wanted for SW Germany and Alsace

Postby Redwinger » Tue Jul 02, 2013 11:19 am

FWIW, you might want to PM Bill Hooper. He's spent a few years in the Pflaz region. Although he may have returned to the States recently, he should be able to make some suggestions.
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Re: Wine Touring tips wanted for SW Germany and Alsace

Postby Tim York » Tue Jul 02, 2013 11:24 am

Sue, you'll find plenty of open for tasting signs in the Mosel valley villages, but it's pot luck; maybe good, maybe bad. One of my favourite estates which has an open cellar policy is Maximin Grünhaus in the Ruwer valley near Trier; last time I went unannounced, I was looking after by a very nice lady who couldn't speak anything other than German but we managed; mine is rudimentary entirely based on listening to Wagner's operas and Schubert's songs.

There is an autobahn which runs from Koblenz to Trier bypassing the valley but which is sufficiently close to use as a resource for medium distance destinations along the valley. There is also an autobahn from Trier to Saarbrücken but too far from the Saar vineyards to be useful.

Trier is a fascinating town with Roman remains.
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Re: Wine Touring tips wanted for SW Germany and Alsace

Postby David M. Bueker » Tue Jul 02, 2013 1:53 pm

Robert Weil in the Rheingau has a tasting room.

Make an appointment at Weinbach in Alsace and use Thor Iverson's name. :twisted:
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Re: Wine Touring tips wanted for SW Germany and Alsace

Postby Bob Parsons Alberta » Tue Jul 02, 2013 2:05 pm

Alsace, I always make an appointment...Weinbach, Albert Mann, Hugel, Schleret. Equisheim is an excellent base.

This was just posted on the UK forum>

http://www.wine-pages.com/ubb/ultimateb ... p=1#000005
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Re: Wine Touring tips wanted for SW Germany and Alsace

Postby wnissen » Tue Jul 02, 2013 2:09 pm

Dear Sue,

I think your plan sounds lovely. My wife and I spent a week between the Rheingau and the Mosel and never lacked for things to do. I suggest that you get a GPS, as that makes it easier to take the more scenic, direct roads instead of being on highways the whole time, with the bonus that you can't get lost.

I have some tips to add to the others you've received. First, I really enjoyed the self-guided tour of Kloster Eberbach, outside the Rheingau village of Hattenheim. An old abbey (cloister), they claim to have invented Kabinett (then called cabinet). The wines today are not spectacular, but some are good. We also had a lovely lunch at Schloss Vollrads, on the patio, and did not need reservations. Most of the wineries had posted hours, but if you are interested in tasting after hours, you might try a "vinothek" which is basically a wine bar.

If you make one advance lodging reservation, go for Gaesthaus Pruem in the Mosel town of Wehlen. Very large rooms, tastefully modern, an excellent breakfast, and the "mini bar" is a self-service wine fridge. Very, very reasonably priced, but they book up. http://www.sapruem.com/page.php?p=30000

I have yet to visit Alsace, but I can recommend a visit to Christine Ferber's store in the Alsatian town of Niedermorschwihr. Never has a town in France sounded so German! Truly magical confitures, admittedly at dear prices. http://www.christineferber.com/Christine-Ferber.html

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Re: Wine Touring tips wanted for SW Germany and Alsace

Postby Fredrik L » Tue Jul 02, 2013 3:06 pm

I second Walt´s advice: Prüm´s place is great and Ferber´s jam is the best there is, (I even used to import it).

I would recommend alway making a reservation: they will be expecting you and you do not run the risk of being received by a niece/nephew working spare time at the estate knowing little or nothing about wine.

Be sure to go on a boat trip between Bernkastel and Traben-Trarbach; you will never forget it!

If you like to try a couple of different growers at the same place, try Weinhaus Porn(!) in Bernkastel.

There are numerous wineries that you could visit but if I combine the quality of the wines with the human approach and what you could learn I would call the following must visits:

Rheingau: Robert Weil, Leitz.
MSR: Dani Vollenweider, Clemens Busch, JJ Prüm, Heymann-Löwenstein. (And of course Egon M if you could get an appointment.)
Alsace: Trimbach, Weinbach, Seppi Landmann (mostly for his personality).

If you like eagles, monkeys or butterflies Alsace can be great, too!

I often stay at either la Tour in Ribeauvillé or the Auberge de Schoenenbourg in Riquewihr, the latter when it is still warm, the pool is great after a day of visiting wineries!

Greetings from Sweden / Fredrik L
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Re: Wine Touring tips wanted for SW Germany and Alsace

Postby Mark Lipton » Tue Jul 02, 2013 3:41 pm

David M. Bueker wrote:Robert Weil in the Rheingau has a tasting room.

Make an appointment at Weinbach in Alsace and use Thor Iverson's name. :twisted:


Oof!

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Re: Wine Touring tips wanted for SW Germany and Alsace

Postby John S » Wed Jul 03, 2013 3:08 am

I usually don't bother making appointments when I'm in Alsace, and most producers - even the great ones - are usually open for business. Trimbach and Domaine Weinbach are two exceptions to that rule. Others I'd recommend are Hugel (an appointment would allow you to visit their caves, which are great to see), Deiss, Albert Mann, Blanck, Albert Boxler (an appointment helps here too) and Josmeyer.

Producers in the Mosel really appreciate an appointment, but they can often be made while you are in the area. And you can usually just drop by as well sometimes too (e.g., Reinhold Haart, Richter, Pauly-Bergweiler). But again, an appointment really helps. In the Pfaltz, we dropped in in many good producers without too much problems. The key to all these places is to know the names of the good producers when you drive by their cellars! So doing some homework before you go, and seeing where some of your desired producers are in relation to each other on a map is very useful. Also, looking at winery websites now will also give you the best idea if an appointment is needed. Most places in these regions I contact are very quick to respond and have rarely turned me down for a visit.

Sounds like an awesome trip! I've done such wide ranging trips a few times, and wish i could do it every year! Oh, regarding Austria, I found the Peter Moser book on the top wineries and wines in Austria was very useful. They were giving them away in many wineries - maybe you could order it or buy it beforehand on the web. There aren't really equivalent books in English for the German regions or Alsace, unfortunately.
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Re: Wine Touring tips wanted for SW Germany and Alsace

Postby Sue Courtney » Sat Jul 06, 2013 5:06 pm

Thanks for all the tips.
We have decided not to make appointments, just go with the flow. That way we don't have to keep to a timetable. We haven't even pre-booked accommodation for that reason. If we have to sleep in the car, we'll do that.
If there is someone we really want to see, then it may be possible to tee up the night before. I like the idea of a 'self-guided ' tour Walt. And Schlosss Volrads for lunch. That's on my list now.

I guess in some ways the trip will be about the experience. Wine tasting will be an added bonus. I've noted all the names. Thank you all.
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Re: Wine Touring tips wanted for SW Germany and Alsace

Postby Anders Källberg » Sun Jul 14, 2013 4:50 pm

Hi Sue,

Just some short tips from my part:

A day along the Saar could be recommended. I spent a whole week there in 2010. Many good wineries to visit such as Zilliken, van Volxem, and also the lesser known Weinhof Herrenberg in Schoden and Peter Lauer in Ayl. There was also another name, the farthest upstream the Saar, who had delicious wines, including a Spätburgunder (!), but unfortunately I fail to remember his name. If you are interested, I could find it out.

Last week, I spent a fine day in the Nahe district. I could well recommend it. We visited Dönnhodd, Gut Hermannsberg and Emrich-Schönleber and in particular the first and the last visits were great. I don't know if they welcome visitors without an appointment, though. I would second the recommendation at least to make a phone call some hours in advance. When in the Nahe, you must not miss the Rotenfels cliff and the tiny vineyard at the bottom, between the cliff, the road and the railroad, Traiser Bastei. You will find it aside the main road along the Nahe river.

To get to the Nahe, you take the ferry across the Rhein in Rüdesheim. In Rüdeshiem (possibly the most touristic town in Germany...) Weingut Breuer has an open tasting room. At times it can be a bit unpersonal, but the wines are great.

Just a few tips that come to my mind. I could come up with more, but then again you want to improvise, so I'm sure you will make your own great finds.

Have a great trip!
/A
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Re: Wine Touring tips wanted for SW Germany and Alsace

Postby Andrew Burge » Wed Jul 17, 2013 7:32 am

Sue,

I visited Mosel and Nahe with my wife in 2010, and made appointments everywhere. Some places (JJ Prum, Willi Schaefer) had no tasting facilities, others did, but we saw no other visitors at any of the places we visited. JJ Prum implied that the only reason they received us is that we were coming from the other side of the world!

I would heed the advice of others and at least phone ahead, unless its clear that a cellar door is open for visitors.

All of the visits were relatively lengthy compared to, say, walking into a CD in Australia or New Zealand. Something we came to appreciate was that the German way seemed to be very systematic and intimate, and takes time, and we never got away from a tasting after less than 90 minutes.

We stayed at Andreas Schmitges in Erden, and really enjoyed it.

My 2c,

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