Wine Tasting, German Style

Trip Start Apr 04, 2011
Trip End Jun 14, 2011

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Flag of Germany  , Rhineland-Palatinate,
Sunday, May 22, 2011

On Sunday morning we met James great aunt and uncle (Angelica and Carl) for breakfast not far from our apartment. The café we ate at was also right down the street where from where his cousin Walter lives with his wife Elka and where they have the office for their taxi company. We had a little bit of time after breakfast before we all met back up at Walter and Elka's office along with two of their friends for some Champagne and snacks. This was the pre-cursor to the wine tour that we had planned for that day. The 11.5 of us left for the train station and got aboard to head a short way outside the main city towards the vineyards. During the trip we picked up two of Walter’s daughters Vanessa and Jenny who are James’ cousins. It wasn’t only about a 30 minute trip in total before had made it. It was more than a surprise when a carriage drawn by two horses strolled up and stopped in front of us. Amy and James had down a wine tour with his family in the past but as that one was pulled by a tractor, we hadn’t expected it. We climbed aboard and sat in long benches along the open sides with a table between us. There were crates of liter bottles of white wine and sparkling water already loaded. We started through the small village and then headed out to the vineyards. There was a range of ages of grapes throughout starting with just planted not expected to be harvested until next year and those who were being harvested at the moment. Unfortunately there had been a frost only 10 days before which had killed a significant portion of the harvestable grapes. We were told that this would drive the price of wine in the region up at least for this year’s bottles. A unique feature we encountered was dry farming where the plants are not grown with an irrigation system by more naturally using the season’s rain to provide their water source. Where in California this is not a typical way of farming grapes and may produce more expensive wine due to its rarity we were told it is much more common in Germany and in fact the vineyards we saw along the Rhine were all dry farms since they are too steep for irrigation. Along with grapes, cherries were also grown in abundance and have been being harvested for weeks. This is the season of the sweet cherries where in August they harvest sour cherries which are used in the cooking and baking often steeped in liquor. We stopped along a lane of trees and were able to pick cherries from where were sitting. The weather was beautiful and we were enjoying our wine in a typically German way with the addition of sparkling water, this was refreshing and also conducive to drinking more of it faster than you might sip white wine or even champagne. The carriage dropped us at the winery where were gathered among the trees in an outside garden to have lunch. The food was great, and the prices of wine were so reasonable we ended up with four bottles for our road trip around Bavaria. Carl met us at the winery and was nice enough to take the wine back for us so we didn’t have to carry it on the train. On the way back we transferred from the train to the Strassenbahn, the German streetcar, which Derek and I hadn’t been on yet. It was nice, a little roomier than the San Francisco Muni for example. After returning to the city center and retrieving our wine we loaded everything in the two cars and started South heading to the Bavarian state of Germany.
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