Monika Reule: Wine meets modern architecture

The Eppelmann vineyard in Stadecken-Elsheim

The image of German wine has undergone positive development in the recent past and the producers in this region are presenting their wines in a modern and contemporary manner today as well. In all German winemaking regions, the recent past has seen the advent of numerous modern wine shops as representative figureheads of vineyards, wineries and winemaking cooperatives. To support this development, the German Wine Institute DWI awarded prizes to 50 wine shops in all 13 German winemaking regions last year for the first time. The award-winners were selected from some 200 applications by a jury of wine professionals in accordance with strict quality criteria. Thirty-­­one of the winners are located in Germany’s largest winemaking state, Rhineland-Palatinate. Whether wine shops are located in large, spacious halls or inside small, cosy winery walls, whether as completely new buildings or added to existing buildings, they are all individual and distinct. From an architectural point of view, the excellent wine shops reflect the broad spectrum of Germany’s modern winemaking landscape. It ranges from stylishly renovated, partly officially-listed buildings to spectacular new buildings with impressive views of vineyard landscapes. They combine the old with the new and impress with their architectural design and spectacular interiors. Here is a brief insight into the diversity of the award-winning wine shops in Rhineland-Palatinate.

The image of German wine has undergone positive development in the recent past and the producers in this region are presenting their wines in a modern and contemporary manner today as well. In all German winemaking regions, the recent past has seen the advent of numerous modern wine shops as representative figureheads of vineyards, wineries and winemaking cooperatives. To support this development, the German Wine Institute DWI awarded prizes to 50 wine shops in all 13 German winemaking regions last year for the first time. The award-winners were selected from some 200 applications by a jury of wine professionals in accordance with strict quality criteria. Thirty-­­one of the winners are located in Germany’s largest winemaking state, Rhineland-Palatinate. Whether wine shops are located in large, spacious halls or inside small, cosy winery walls, whether as completely new buildings or added to existing buildings, they are all individual and distinct. From an architectural point of view, the excellent wine shops reflect the broad spectrum of Germany’s modern winemaking landscape. It ranges from stylishly renovated, partly officially-listed buildings to spectacular new buildings with impressive views of vineyard landscapes. They combine the old with the new and impress with their architectural design and spectacular interiors. Here is a brief insight into the diversity of the award-winning wine shops in Rhineland-Palatinate.

The Eye-Catchers. Some winemakers comissioned well-known architects to design their shops in order to attract fascinated observers to come in and buy. A good example of this is the centuries-old winery of Peter Regnery and his wide Andrea in Klüsserath on the Moselle river. “Just don’t make any thing with corners!” was the order to their architect, who designed a sweeping building with gentle curves of steel, wood and concrete and hid it behind a high curtain of oak beams. As daring as this design might be, its successful integration with its environment is the deciding factor as is its harmonious setting in the landscape as the heart of the surrounding vineyards.

The Views. The local advantage of some vineyards and their wine shops is quite simply their elevated location. Whether they are high up on hills or on the slopes overlooking a river, the best use of such locations can be made in order to emphasise even more the unique view out over the picturesque landscape. One example is Ludger Veit’s vineyard in Ozann-Monzel, whose wine shop forms one of the most beautiful outlooks over the entire Central Moselle region, another one is the Öko­nomierat Isler vineyard in Neustadt an der Weinstraße with a splendid panoramic view over a veritable Palatine ocean of grapevines. And if a glass façade is not enough at one location, a tower is built like that at the Eppelmann vineyard in Stadecken-Elsheim, where the tower terrace offers an attract­ive view of the picturesque Rhinehessen.

The Interior. The perfect composition of interior decoration is an affair of the heart of many wineries and vineyards: after all, a wine shop has to look authentic and fit in with the winery’s philosophy. Thus, the “Vinoforum” at the winery of Rolf Gansen and Karl Andries on the Moselle positively radiates the atmosphere of a genuine wine-cellar. Fifty-one barrels hang from the ceiling of the 700 square metre-large building above the tables below. And at the Matthias Müller winery on the Central Rhine, various shades of green in the 16-metre window façade evoke vine leaves, and shades of soil evoke the slate earth in the vineyard. But materials or associations do not always need to evoke vineyards or wine cellars:  a gallery of ancestral portraits is enough. At the Emmerich-Koebernick winery in Waldböckelheim on the river Nahe, visitors must merely throw an upwards glance immediately on entering to see some portraits showing nine generations of the family.

Weinhaus Anton in Kirrweiler in the Palatinate

The Events. More and more proprietors of wine shops offer colourful and entertaining background programmes as part of wine tastings, ranging from leisure activities to cultural events. For example, a fixed part of a visit to Josef Köhr’s winery in the Palatinate is the covered wagon, which provides “adventures days” at the winery after a visit to the wine shop. Visitors experi­ence a day-long, multipart wine tasting during which they taste various wines at various stops. Some wine shops also attract visitors with art exhibitions and music. For example, the Weinhaus Anton in Kirrweiler in the Palatinate organises occasional live concerts. Quieter events are exemplified in the Palatinate by Nicole Graeber. This winemaker offers seminars on seeing, smelling, feeling and tasting at her 80 sqm-large wine shop – an event for the senses.

The cooperatives Many wine cooperatives have also recognised how their own brands can be well and tastefully presented in an attractive and punchy wine shop. This is what the Weinmanufaktur Walporzheim on the Ahr river does, where numerous highlights, over and above the culinary ones from the adjacent restaurant “Vinetum”, await the visitor, from the guided walk along the 35 kilometre-long red wine trail to thematic events such as “Schokolade & Wein” (“Wine and Chocolate”) in the bright wine shop with its contemporary design. Or the Herxheim am Berg wine cooperative, which has built its new 160 sq. metre-large wine shop “Vinothek 212 N.N.” on one of the highest points in the area, where one can see out the end of the day with a good glass of wine in a stylish atmosphere and a landscape view over the Palatine ocean of grapevines. A portrait of all 50 award-winning wine shops entitled “German Wines” is contained in a 114-page special edition of the magazine “Abenteuer und Reisen” (Travel and Adventure), which is available throughout Germany and in the DWI online shop. The publication also contains brief portraits of all winemaking areas and “young Turk” winemakers and a short lesson on the aromas of the most important species of German grapevines. The DWI also introduces the 50 prize-winners online at www.vinotheken.deutscheweine.de. The wine shops can also be found on the interactive wine map on the start page of the DWI homepage deutscheweine.de.

Monika Reule
As an executive of the German Wine Fund (DWF) and as managing director of the German Wine Institute (DWI) and the German Wine Academy (DWA), the author has been managing the fortunes of the joint wine marketing of Germany’s winemaking regions since 1 April 2007.