The Middle Mosel Valley resembles a "Grand Canyon of Riesling". If this white wine grape has its true home anywhere, it would be on this picturesque 120-km stretch of land. The region's center, its heart of hearts, might well be the wine and recreation village of Ürzig: at Rebenhof, the "Rieslingmanufaktur" from Johannes and Doris Schmitz.
Ürzig is situated near the medieval city of wine and philosophers, Bernkastel-Kues. The modern ambiance at the Manufaktur pays homage to the Mosel's most famous grape. This fascinating project brings together clear lines, intended to reflect Riesling's famous clarity, and natural materials such as slate and oak in combination with modern components such as glass and steel.The family produces solely Riesling on their seven hectares of land. Most of that fruit comes from the steep cliffs (and unique Mosel microclimate) of the famous "Ürziger Würzgarten" and "Erdener Treppchen" vineyard sites.
Yields are kept intentionally low for these old, ungrafted Riesling vines, as it allows them to express the full potential of the vineyard. Selective hand harvest, gentle processing, slow, natural fermentation and aging — these are all givens here. It is the best way to ensure that the wine receives all that the grape took with it from its origin: concentrated, long-lasting fruit aromas, powerful minerality from the red slate and conglomerate soils that are common here.
How the wine is grown and processed, how it journeys from vine to bottle — the entire craft of winegrowing is presented to visitors in the "Riesling Manufaktur". Johannes Schmitz conducts regular tours past the six-meter-high stainless steel tanks, the computer-controlled fermentation vats and the wine lab. Touring is thirsty work, but the tasting at the end is more than enough reward, with mixed cheeses from the Dauner Eifel region, dry-cured venison ham and salami from local hunters as well as homemade tarte flambée.
The estate has claimed accolades ranging from "Best Steep Site Riesling" at the international "Best of Riesling" competition to two stars in Gault Millau and three stars in Eichelmann. The estate and guest house on the Rebenhof have both been cited as top-quality Mosel-businesses. The later facility provides guests with the choice of a room, a holiday flat or an apartment.
The "Gourmet Package" includes two overnights including breakfast, tour of the vineyards, cellar viewing, wine tasting seminar with both dinner and gourmet menu, and a Mosel cruise. The guest house is also a starting point for individual excursions, hikes and bike tours. Whatever the leisure activity in this magical region, having a fun time is not a problem in the "Riesling Canyon."
(© text: Deutsches Weininstitut GmbH, Outstanding Vinotheks 2016)