I was wondering if I could get some advice from the German forumites.

In January I will attend a business conference in Mainz on a Friday and Saturday. I am thinking about staying through to Sunday evening, renting a car and visit some wineries in the area.

First, are German wineries open on Sundays?

Second who do you recommend within 1-2 hours drive of Mainz?


Original Post
It is very easy to visit wineries in the Rheingau from Mainz. You just cross the Rhein into Wiesbaden and then head west on Route 42. You can be in the Rheingau in twenty minutes.

As an ordinary tourist, you can easily visit the following wineries, which are normally open on Sunday:

Robert Weil in Kiedrich;
Georg Breuer in Rüdesheim (go to the Vinothek on Grabenstrasse 8)
Schloss Vollrads (wine tasting in the gift shop)
Schloss Rheinhartshausen (wine tasting in the gift shop)
Closter Eberbach (wine tasting in the gift shop)
Schloss Johannisberg (wine tasting in the gift shop)

The last four are old, museum-like wineries that cater to the ordinary tourist. They are all very old and impressive to look at, but in general do not make the very best wines. In all cases, the wines being offered for tasting will be QbA and occassionally Kabinett wines -- you probably have to call in advance to arrange a tasting of anything more expensive.

The following top wineries require reservations (I have never been to these):
Kunstler, in Hochheim (i.e. east of Wiesbaden on the River Main).
Balthasar Ress in Hattenheim.
Josef Leitz in Rüdesheim.

For my photos of the Rheingau, see here.
Mainz is on the Rhein river and is surrounded by Rheingau, on the other side the river, and Rhenhessen to the south. Lucky you!

Rheingau has a better reputation than Rheinhessen for great wine, and Rheingau has a more splendid history.

Much of Rheinhessen produces low-quality, mass-produced wine, but there are some great (and underrated) Rheinhessen producers along the Rheinfront at Bingen, Nackenheim (such as the Rothemberg site and the good producer Gunderloch), Nierstein (with the good sites at Oelberg, Hipping, Brudersberg, and Pettental, and the good producers Balbach, Heyl zu Herrnsheim, Schneider, and Schmitt), and Oppenheim. You will find great Riesling producers along the Rheinfront in Rheinhesse, but Rheingau is your better choice.

The Rheingau once was the premier wine area of all of Germany, with the old British word "Hock" coming from the city Hochheim. This region has a rich history.

The star attraction of Rheingau is the spendid Kloster Eberbach to the northwest of Mainz, with beautiful and stunning cellars, historic displays, monestaries, auctions, and festivals.

One of the largest and most historic estates is the Schloss Johannisberg, in Johannisberg, with cellars beneth the castle and vines growing in neat rows from the castle to the river. The wines at Schloss Johannisberg are inconsistent, though. The steely wines at the nearby Johannishof, in Johannisberg, are better and outstanding.

The estate of Schloss Vollrads, in Oestrich-Winkel, is charming, too.

Top wine growing areas along the Rhine include Erbach, Hattenheim, Johannisberg, Kiedrich, Rudesheim, and Winkel.

You have picked a great time to visit German wine country. 2001 was considered maybe the best vintage since maybe 1971 for German Riesling. 2002 was good. The early word for 2003 is that it is going to blow away 1971.

The Middle Mosel was the star in 2001, but the RHEINGAU is shaping up to be the star this time, with an amazing amount of TBA produced. If you can afford it, don't miss the opportunity to taste the great TBA harvest of 2003.

You can read my comments on the 2003 harvest, including a vintage report I found on the Internet, here: 2003 German Vintage: A Dream Comes True

Please report back what you learn from the RHEINGAU!

Robert Weil at Kiedrich (Outstanding, expensive)
Johannishof at Johannisberg
Franz Kunstler at Hochhein
Balthaser Ress at Hattenheim
Georg Breuer at Rudesheim

Schloss Schonborn
J. Wegeler Erben
Schloss Reinhartshausen
Prinz von Hessen
Graf von Kanitz
Peter Jakob Kuhn
Joseph Leitz
August Kesseler
Domdechant Werner'sches Weingut

Your pictures of Wurzburg are lovely! They remind me of the time spent there last year, sans the sunshine. Smile Though everybody is talking about German wine these days, Franken wine has so little exposure, it is hard to even find one here. The area does make some lovely dry whites, I do wonder why they are not imported more. Is it possibly because they come in funny shaped squat bottles?
I agree that Franken wines are some of the most underrated wines on the planet. You are right that the funny bottle might have to do with it.

I used to always talk about how great they are for the price. But seeing where the Mosel prices have gone recently, I might keep my mouth shut so the secret does not get out-- and I can continue to enjoy them cheaply. Wink
Well I am back. The trip was a little different than I expected but I was treated to tasting of a selection of wines from the village of Nackenheim. Some were good and some less so.

1996 Jean Bapiste Riesling Kabinett halbtrocken Weingut Gunderloch: This was a beautiful wine nice peach and apricot flavors with some residul sugar.

2001 Vitis Vinifera Nackenheimer Rothenberg Weingut Snas-Lorch: This riesling was aged in new oak, not a good idea. The sommieler was talking about the terrior of Rothenberg (red soil) but I tasted was oak.

2002 Chardonnay Spätlese trocken Weingut Dr. Marbé-Sans: A light flavored wine with very little character. Probably should have been served first instead of 3rd.

2002 Silk Weisser Burgunder trocken Weingut Freiherr Heyl zu Herrnsheim: Nicely balanced and well rounded.

2002 Portugieser QbA trocken Weingut Kühling Gillot: This was like drinking cherry juice. Not an elegant wine but no lack of fruit. If you really, really like cherry flavors in wine this one is for you.

2000 Nackenheimer Engelsberg Spätburgunder QbA trocken Weingut Sans-Lorch: Again cherry tones but married with other red berries. Very nice. I may start looking for great Pinot Noir deals from Germany.

2002 Bacchus Auslese Weingut Binz: Dried apricots nice balance between residual sugar and acid. This was probably a case of robbing the cradle.

St. Gereon Hausmarke Sekt Extra dry: Why anyone would serve a dry sparkling wine after a sweet desert wine is beyond me. The only thing I tasted was bubbles.

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