WEINGUT KLOSTER EBERNACH: Pairing Wine and Community
TEXT & PHOTOS: DAN COLE
What is it that makes a winery special? Is it located in a sublime location; does it have an amazing history; are the owners welcoming, or is it something to do with the food?
Sometimes, the quality of the wine is reason enough for a visit. Weingut Ebernach, nestled in the Moselle valley just outside of Cochem has it all. Located in the gardens of an old Benedictine monastery, the winery looks out across the beautiful Moselle River, makes award-winning wines, and partners up with a nearby assisted living community, helping build relations and improve the lives and well-being of its neighbours.
The Moselle is one of the most famous wine-producing regions in Germany, if not the world. It also happens to thew country’s oldest wine-producing region thanks to the Romans, who introduced viticulture to the region back in the 2nd Century. The valleys’ steep banks lined in grey slate provides the optimum temperature and conditions for cultivating full and fruitful vines. Specialising in crisp, clear, and low alcohol Rieslings, the wines from this region are well-known and exported across the world.
From the city of Koblenz that sits on the Rhine, all the way down to Trier there are around 5,000 winegrowers, cultivating a multitude of wines. One of the best and well-known is the Weingut Ebernach, that can be found just behind the Cochem Castle, at the heart of the Moselle valley. Its wines have been awarded accolades from the likes of Eichelman, Gilbert & Gaillard, Falstaff, and Vinum, amongst others, with several earning the top prize of Riesling Champion. Not bad considering the amount of competition in the area.
Winery. Monastery. Community.
When walking down to the winery across the hill from the beautiful town of Cochem, the first thing that becomes apparent is the number of activities going on within the relatively small space of land. Kloster Ebernach’s tower, now run by the Franciscans of the Holy Cross, sits aloft towering over rows of vineyards, and a large animal farm and petting zoo, greenhouse and farm; all of which are affiliated with the on-site assisted care home facility.
The abbey itself dates back to the 1100s, with the original care home facility added along to the building all the way back in 1887. Today, around 300 residents, all with varying degrees of learning and mental disabilities, live on site, supported in one way or another by the parish.
The abbey has a history of wine-production dating back to 1673. How could it have not, with such a prime located. It wasn’t until 2019 that the Zenzen family moved in, leasing the land from the abbey for their own wine business, creating the winery that we know today. Originally based in the Mosel-Krampen region, to the south of Cochem, the Zenzens have been involved in wine production since 1636, making them the perfect partners to move in on the abbey’s ground, combining the best of both worlds.
When visiting Ebernach, after you’ve lost yourself playing with all the farmyard animals, there are many activities available to you as a guest. The winery offers courses and lectures about their wines, even offering guided hikes through their vineyards to bespoke valley huts, where you can get personally wine tastings, paired with longing views of the valley below.
The family are as welcoming as you’d expect, all busy managing the different aspects of the business. The winery also offers its services to the assist-living residents, providing them with art courses throughout the day. Many of the results of these expressionist creative sessions can be seen throughout the winery as symbols of their symbiosis. “Free independent work should convey joy, build community and encourage new things,” the team behind Ebernach state about the collaboration.
Not only that, but a new limited wine series has the artworks from this collaboration printed on its bottles. The limited ‘Edition Atelier 21’ reflects the artists’ creativity, as the work colourfully expresses the landscape, the farm and winery lands. Indeed, many of the onsite birds can be seen through the coloured shapes and lines that feature on the limited line of wines. The limited-Edition Atelier, which includes a Pinot Noir, Burgunder Cuvée, and Riesling are available to purchase through the winery’s website, or on site should you be lucky enough to visit the German establishment. The money generated through the wine’s sales are naturally donated back to the Abbey and its residents. “The selected and exceptional wines reflect the full potential of our steep-slope vineyards are equipped with a special work of art,” the Winery says about its collaboration. “Art connects and the pictures reflect the artist’s joie de vivre and their boundless creativity.”
Tours of the vineyards, and courses can be booked through the winery’s website.
Dan Cole is the author of Beer Hiking Berlin, available now through helvetiq.
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