Thursday, August 11, 2011

Germany’s Franconian Region Is a Leading Producer of Fine Wine

Germany is famous for its great beer, but its also one of the world’s great locations for growing grapes and producing fine wine. The wine region of Franconia is located midway between Frankfurt and Munich in central Germany. One of its principal cities in Wuerzburg. Arriving in Wuerzburg by train from Frankfurt. I was aware that every square meter of cultivated land within sight (and beyond) was covered with vineyards -- hundreds of thousands of vines growing grapes for some of Germany’s finest wines. The grapes grown here are predominately Silvener and Reisling, that produce some of the world’s leading white wines.

I had my first taste of Silvener wine at the noon meal a short time after arriving in Wuerzburg. It was very pleasing and I had more at dinner. I have enjoyed German Reisling wine for many years and find it unmatched for flavor among white wines. I believe Reisling from the Franconian region is among the finest.

Wuerzburg is a very old city. Records show
there was a Celtic settlement here as early as 1000 BC. In the 18th century it was ruled by
a series prince bishops who were both the
head of the provincial government and head of the Catholic Church here.

Wuerzburg Residence, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is an impressive complex of buildings on the eastern edge of the city, It was commissioned by two prince bishops and built between 1720 and 1744. Although some of it destroyed during World War II, it has been completely rebuilt. It is widely known for its spectacular Baroque staircase decorated by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo with one of the biggest ceiling frescos in the world, showing an allegory of the four continents.

As the story goes, the prince bishop(s) would greet arriving guests from the staircase. For important guests, they would descend the stairs fully or partially depending on the guest’s status. Guests with not standing, were greeted at the very top. The main portico at the Residence was large enough for a six-horse carriage to enter and turn around. When Napoleon Bonaparte visited here, arriving in his eight-horse carriage, it was necessary for him to get out and walk in. A social/political “faux pas” no doubt.

For 90 years Germany’s oldest Mozart festival has taken place here. Actually, Mozart had no personal association with the city, but for four weeks each summer thousands of visitors from Germany and all over the world enjoy the intimate festival atmosphere and the unique architecture of the Residence for 50 classical concerts. The Residence has one of the largest wine cellars in Europe. Remember, this is wine country.

My venture into Franconian vineyards took me to the neighboring city of Volkach. On a hilltop on the edge of town is the historic Chapel of St. Maria of the Vineyard A favorite pilgrimage site
in past centuries, there is a series of shrines (in small stone buildings) along the steep pathway leading to the church. There is a very old and much revered wooden sculpture of the Madonna suspended above the alter. In the 1960s, it was stolen and remained missing for several years. It eventually turned up at an antique market where it was recognized and return to the church.

Volkach holds an annual wine festival each summer that draws thousands of wine lovers from all over Germany and beyond who enjoy great Franconian wines. Many local wines are bottled in a destintive style bottle - short and
onion shaped. Some say in achient times the wine was stored in goat scrotums, thus the shape.

The Max Mueller wine estate is housed in a farm building built by the prince bishops of Würzburg in 1692. The estate has been run by Rainer and Monika Mueller since 1991. The vineyard is planted with the white grape varieties Silvaner, Mueller-Thurgau, Riesling and Bacchus, and red varieties Pinot Noir, Domina and Pinot Meunier. The white wines are fermented and matured in stainless steel tanks. After fermentation the red wines are matured in large oak barrels. At the 2011 London International Wine Fair, Mueller Riesling won the gold medal (first place) in the International Wine Challenge. Max Mueller has an attractive tasting room and retail shop just off the town square in Volkach. See for further information.

Divino Winery is located in nearby Nordheim. One of the leading vineyard cooperatives in Germany (250 growers), Divino wines have received many awards at various international competitions. Many Divino wines are exported, and I was interested to learn that most go to China, Japan, and Mexico. The winery has a attractive tasting room and retail shop, a museum tracing the history of wine production in Franconia, and a lovely restaurant. Learn more at .

I had my first taste of Silvener wine at the noon meal a short time after arriving in Wurtsburg. It was very pleasing and I had more at dinner. I have enjoyed German Reisling wine for many years and find it unmatched for flavor among white wines. I believe Reisling from the Franconian region is among the finest.

Wurtsberg is a very old city. Records show
there was a Celtic settlement here as early as 1000 BC. In the 18th century it was ruled by
a series prince bishops who were both the
head of the provincial government and head of the Catholic Church here.

Wurtsburg Residence, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is an impressive complex of buildings on the eastern edge of the city, It was commissioned by two prince bishops and built between 1720 and 1744. Although some of it destroyed during World War II, it has been completely rebuilt. It is widely known for its spectacular Baroque staircase decorated by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo with one of the biggest ceiling frescos in the world, showing an allegory of the four continents.

As the story goes, the prince bishop(s) would greet arriving guests from the staircase. For important guests, they would descend the stairs fully or partially depending on the guest’s status. Guests with not standing, were greeted at the very top. The main portico at the Residence was large enough for a six-horse carriage to enter and turn around. When Napoleon Bonaparte visited here, arriving in his eight-horse carriage, it was necessary for him to get out and walk in. A social/political “faux pas” no doubt.

For 90 years Germany’s oldest Mozart festival has taken place here. Actually, Mozart had no personal association with the city, but for four weeks each summer thousands of visitors from Germany and all over the world enjoy the intimate festival atmosphere and the unique architecture of the Residence for 50 classical concerts. The Residence has one of the largest wine cellars in Europe. Remember, this is wine country.

My venture into Franconian vineyards took me to the neighboring city of Volkach. On a hilltop on the edge of town is the historic Chapel of St. Maria of the Vineyard A favorite pilgrimage site
in past centuries, there is a series of shrines (in small stone buildings) along the steep pathway leading to the church. There is a very old and much revered wooden sculpture of the Madonna suspended above the alter. In the 1960s, it was stolen and remained missing for several years. It eventually turned up at an antique market where it was recognized and return to the church.

Volkach holds an annual wine festival each summer that draws thousands of wine lovers from all over Germany and beyond who enjoy great Franconian wines. Many local wines are bottled in a destintive style bottle - short and
onion shaped. Some say in achient times the wine was stored in goat scrotums, thus the shape.


The Max Mueller wine estate is housed in a farm building built by the prince bishops of Würzburg in 1692. The estate has been run by Rainer and Monika Mueller since 1991. The vineyard is planted with the white grape varieties Silvaner, Mueller-Thurgau, Riesling and Bacchus, and red varieties Pinot Noir, Domina and Pinot Meunier. The white wines are fermented and matured in stainless steel tanks. After fermentation the red wines are matured in large oak barrels. At the 2011 London International Wine Fair, Mueller Riesling won the gold medal (first place) in the International Wine Challenge. Max Mueller has an attractive tasting room and retail shop just off the town square in Volkach. See for further information.

Divino Winery is located in nearby Nordheim. One of the leading vineyard cooperatives in Germany (250 growers), Divino wines have received many awards at various international competitions. Many Divino wines are exported, and I was interested to learn that most go to China, Japan, and Mexico. The winery has a attractive tasting room and retail shop, a museum tracing the history of wine production in Franconia, and a lovely restaurant. Learn more at .

To learn more about Wurtsberg and the Franconian Wine Country of Germany, view www.wuerzburg.de/en/index and www.germany-tourism.de/ENG/culture_and_events/german_wine_country_franconia Planning a trip to Germany should begin at www.germany-tourism.de/ENG


James Weaver
GolfWiz Blog
Senior Travel Writer

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