If you follow my blog, you might remember I recently mentioned that in Germany more and more wineries are starting to offer a combination of wine tasting, dining and accommodation directly at or close to their wine estates. If like me, you love wine travel this is the ideal weekend escape where you will get the opportunity to directly interact with winemakers and owners and learn more about their wines on-site.
Don’t expect German wineries to offer (as of yet) a similar posh environment like many of the new world wine regions do, where wine tourism is largely celebrated at top notch luxury level, meaning 5-star accommodation and Michelin-star worthy cuisine. What you will find in the German wine regions, is a still very intimate and authentic experience created with lots of enthusiasm by the vintner families and their staff.
Having largely neglected the German wine region for quite some time as I was travelling mostly to wine regions abroad, this year I have made a point to explore and learn more about the wines and wineries in my home country. And it’s safe to say, what I have experienced really has inspired me to include more trips to nearby German wine country in my travels.
Just recently, I had a fantastic experience exploring Ingelheim am Rhein, the red wine capital of Germany’s largest wine region Rheinhessen along with one of its leading wineries, Julius Wasem Wine Estate.
Wine-making in Ingelheim goes back some 2000 years and many of today’s leading vintner families look back at a centuries-long tradition of growing wines. The Wasem family is no exception, with a wine-growing history under their belt that goes back to 1726. That said, the Wasem winery as it exists today was founded in 1912 by Julius Wasem and is now run in the fourth generation.
The estate – spread over various buildings all within easy walking distance right in the heart of the village – consists of the winery, a modern wine shop and tasting room, a restaurant and a small hotel.
On 34 hectares of vineyards, Wasem cultivates a large range of grape varietals including Silvaner, Pinot Gris and of course the region’s leading grape variety, Riesling.
With regards to red wines, these include Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot along with the local favourite red grape, pinot noir. The latter at Wasem comprises the much less cultivated ‘Frühburgunder’ (pinot noir précose) which is produced from a dark skinned variety of the pinot noir grape that origins from a mutation of the grape and – as the name suggests – ripens earlier than normal. The estate founder Julius Wasem in 1964 was awarded the prestigious German Federal Cross of Merit for his dedicated work to preserve this rare variety, which at the time was threatened with extinction.
In addition, Wasem also produces excellent rosé and sparkling wines too.
To learn more about the wines, head to the amazing tasting room. The modern facility is carefully integrated into the historic Cistercian cloister Engelthal, dating back to 1290, which the family bought and carefully renovated only a few years ago. The complex was awarded the Great Wine Capitals ‘national and international award for architecture, parks and gardens’ and is indeed an amazing assembly of old and new.
You can taste nearly all of their wines in the shop, however the winery also offers dedicated wine tastings which you need to book in advance.
The Wasem restaurant, located in the beautiful cross vault room of cloister Engelthal, offers a small seasonal menu focused on fresh regional products, predominantly sourced from local farmers, that perfectly pair with the winery’s own wines.
There is a three course tasting menu that includes two wines for just €39, which we enjoyed very much.
On warmer days, you can also sit outside on the gorgeous terrace or the gorgeous litte courtyard.
Also family-run, the small Wasem hotel is located in two different buildings, the main one just a short walk from cloister Engelthal.
Many of the rooms there have a little loggia or balcony either overlooking the amazing Rheinhessen vineyards or the hotel’s gorgeous little courtyard.
There is a complementary coffee/tea and cake-of-the-day offer from around noon till early evening and on warmer days the small courtyard is the perfect place to take a short break from wine tasting.
There are additional rooms in a building about five minutes walk away from the main hotel – here too you will find a beautiful outdoor seating area in the small garden with views over the nearby vineyards.
The little town of Ingelheim itself too is stepped in history, having been the home of no other than Charlemagne in the 8th century, still showing some remnants of his imperial palace.
There are lots of small winding streets lined with colourful houses typical for rural Germany and a number of other excellent wineries. If you want to visit, however make sure you call ahead as most will open their tasting rooms only upon prior appointment.
Do not miss the – in my view – most beautiful building of the village, the gorgeous Burgkirche (castele church).
I had a great time exploring the village, it’s excellent wineries and most of all enjoying a perfect and well thought all-around-wine experience at Wasem. Located just under an hour outside of Frankfurt in the middle of the beautiful Rheinhessen wine region, it was the perfect place to relax and unplug for a weekend.
Wasem tasting room and wine shop at cloister Engelthal is open from Mon to Fri, 7.30 am to 6.30 pm, Sat 9.30 am to 6 pm and Sun from noon to 5 pm.
Wasem Wine Estate
Edelgasse 5 – 55218 Ingelheim am Rhein