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Day Trip to Bamberg - Schlenkerla Brewery Restaurant

Winter isn't exactly the best time of year for sightseeing. But it's a great time of year for sitting in a cosy Gasthaus with some great Franconian food and beer. One of my favorite cities to visit near Zeilitzheim is Bamberg with its picturesque old town, the cathedral and of course its restaurants. My personal favorite is the Schlenkerla (though there are many more good ones to recommend).

The three of us wine makers of the "Wein von 3" winery recently visited Bamberg (we were sponsoring the New Year's Brunch of the international Sculpture Network at a friend's gallery). A visit to the Schlenkerla after the event was wrapped up was an obvious choice to grab a bite to eat and - of course - a half-litre glass of Schlenkerla Rauchbier (made from smoked malt, an acquired taste but once you're hooked... Kind of like our Baron wine that we ferment in American oak Barrique barrels: Most people either love it or hate it. Thankfully the critics mostly love it).

Each of us had one of the Franconian specialties served with wonderful dumplings (Klöße) and a side dish of either steamed red cabbage (Blaukraut) or a salad: Rinderbrust mit Meerrettichsoße (boiled beef with a tangy horseradish sauce), Sauerbraten (see link below) and Kalbshaxen (wonderfully delicate meat pulled from a roasted leg of veal). Sound vulgur? Perhaps. But it tastes wonderful. Service is efficient if boisterous in that typical and authentic Schlenkerla kind of way. Don't try ordering a Coke, or you'll get a simple "hammer net!" as a response which is slang for "haben wir nicht" (we don't have that). You're expected to drink a beer which is - unless otherwise stated - always going to be served in the smoked version. In short: I love that place!

Links:

Schlenkerla (Wikipedia)

Sauerbraten (Wikipedia)

Schlenkerla Brewery Restaurant

Schlenkerla Brewery Restaurant

Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier

Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier

Triad: Beer, Blaukraut, Klöße (dumplings)

Triad: Beer, Blaukraut, Klöße (dumplings)


The Neighbor's Chickens

Our neighbor Fritz at the end of the alley next to the castle has chickens. They must be pretty happy chickens because they are allowed to wander freely, which they often do. In the afternoons they will sometimes visit to scratch around under the shrubs in the alley in search of grubs and worms. Sometimes, on Sundays, when Fritz drives his old red Volkswagen Golf to the end of his driveway into the alley where he must have better FM radio reception (soccer, maybe?) they will accompany him, some even sitting right next to him on the ledge of the open car window. They were a little freaked out by the shipping pallets we had piled up in the driveway yesterday, though. They had to come and inspect...

Hail The New Queen!

If you’ve ever been to a German wine festival (Weinfest) in one of Germany’s 13 wine-growing regions such as ours here in Franconia (Franken), you’ve probably seen one of the many „wine princesses“. Almost every village has one who usually „reigns“ for about two years representing the village, its wines and wine growers. But only one of these princesses per region can become wine queen of the entire region for a year. Each region has an annual contest/election once a year (at different times throughout the year). The elected queen then has a chance at becoming Germany’s wine queen.

Franken elected its wine queen for the reign of 2015/2016 today. Six contestants tried for the job that entails numerous events nationally and internationally representing the region’s wine throughout the year. Only one can and will be queen. And the winner is… Kristin Langmann. She is one of only two candidates who visited our winery before the election to let uns explain our winery concept and to taste our wines. So, obviously, she was one of our two favorites to win.

Her majesty, the Wine Queen:

http://www.br.de/nachrichten/unterfranken/inhalt/wahl-fraenkische-weinkoenigin-2015-erlenbach-100.html

Gearing Up For Things To Come

The hotel has been closed over the winter and is about to open its doors back up to the general public, be it overnight-hotel-guests or visitors of our cultural events and wine tastings. The first big one of this sort will be our annual Easter Market on Sunday, March 15th (always held 3 weeks before Easter Sunday). Visitors will also get a chance to taste our wines on that day.

In the vineyards work is continuing with pruning. Back at the winery we have been busy bottling wines that will hit the shelves around May.

Ushering in the Quiet Season

While we still have a few cultural and wine-related events (and of course the Christmas Market on November 23rd) to go until it gets really quiet (the hotel closes in January and February for the winter) it is already getting seasonally quiet here at the castle.

Work in the vineyards is resting while the 2014 wines are in their tanks, waiting to be bottled in spring. The winery has grown to about five acres of vineyards (up from about 3 acres in 2012) so there is more work to be done. We will start pruning the vines in December this year, preparing them for the 2015 vintage.

Wine Tastings Galore

Currently we spend our days in the vineyards and our nights letting people taste and have fun with our wines. We presented our new vintage to the world last Saturday and have since been busy promoting our wines at wine tastings and events. Tonight we are in Würzburg celebrating Wine & Vinyl at a club. Please contact us for your own individual tasting!

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Get a Taste of Frankenwein

Have you ever wondered what goes on behind the scenes of a German winery? Do you want to know how wine is made? Or are you simply interested in tasting awesome wines straight from the source?

As a dual-citizen German-American born in Boston an former U.S. Air Force Airman and U.S. Army (Cavalry) officer I am happy to welcome American families at our home and let them taste the wines my two fellow winery owners and I make.

 Wine tastings are great for FRG (Family Readiness Group) or social events, Hail and Farewells, team-building events, or if you just want to get together with some good friends.

A wine tasting at the castle can take place in the courtyard, the garden, or one of the festive halls, such as the fresco-painted "Freskensaal". There are six wines available for tasting ranging from a sparkling wine, fresh and fruity, light summer wines, traditional Franconian dry wines to a heavy, dry white wine aged in American Oak.

Special offers are available for members of the Armed Services stationed in Schweinfurt, their families, civilian employees and American expats in the region. Pricing either at pay-as-you-go rates ranging from 1,50 to 3,50 Euros per glass (0.1 Liters) or at a fixed rate for a more formal tasting, depending on the number of wines tasted. Non-alcoholic beverages are available on request so designated drivers are taken care of, too.

Buying wine to take home is possible but certainly not obligatory. Each bottle of wine comes in its own box (perfect gift idea, hint hint...) and can most easily be bundled in sixpacks that come with a top and bottom encasing. A description of the wines (in German) and pictures are available at http://weinvon3.de/weine/

You can reach me at barockschloss (at) gmail (dot) com to arrange for your wine tasting at the castle!

No time to lose: Party ahead!

It's only March but May isn't far off. Not if you're planning a big opening party for a winery. And it's not like we haven't been working toward this event for over a year. First there was the IDEA. Then we three winemakers founded our startup. All the while work began in the vineyards. Pruning, bending, shaping, tending to, cultivating… and finally harvesting the grapes of our first vintage in the Fall of 2012. 

Now our first wines are almost ready. But only just. They are still missing the funky labels that will raise a few eyebrows and turn a few heads. But those are being prepared as I write this and soon to be printed. We should be all set by May when we present our "babies" first to a small group of friends and family, then to the world at our opening on Sunday, May 26th in the courtyard of the castle/estate. 

We've got a chocolatier on board who will also be making Italian-style coffee at our party we are calling "Ein Fest von 3" - a party by/with Three. THREE is us. Us three. But there will be more to see and taste. Not just our wine. Not just great cake and chocolate. We are also working on great food. Oh, and: Music. There has to be music.

So stay tuned. We're working on it. And: Be there! On Sunday, May 26th from 11 a.m. on. In Zeilitzheim, that unpronounceable little village in northern Bavaria / southern Germany. If you're an expat in Germany you might already know where that is. If you haven't yet made it across the "pond" I'll be happy to help with directions.

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Franconian Delicacy: Gerupfter

Franconia is probably most well known for our fine, often dry, white wines. And where there is wine, there is almost always good food. Good food in Franconia is often simple rather than extravagant. But don't let that fool you: It is delicious, nonetheless.

A prime example of a fine Franconian snack with wine is "Gerupfter" (known in other parts of Bavaria as "Obatzda" or in high German "angemachter Käse"). Essentially this is nothing more (or less) than a mixture of fine Camembert cheese with butter, sweet red paprika powder (some prefer a dash of the spicy variety) and chopped onions. This is an excellent spread for the hearty German "Graubrot" or sour-dough bread. But beware: The longer the cheese sits with the onions mixed in, the spicier it gets (which is why it is often served with rings/slices of fresh onion in the side).

And it wouldn't be Germany if we didn't have laws and/or regulations governing the production of "Gerupfter" (at least for serving in restaurants). The regulation is called the "Käseverordnung" or "cheese regulation" and stipulates that for a cheese dish bearing this name it must be prepared with 50% Camembert and 50% butter. This is important because every Franconian cook usually has his/her own house recipe of how to prepare this cheese extravaganza (with a hint of cream cheese for example). In Restaurants you will usually find the original recipe for cooks' fear of being caught by a lab analysis of mixing in anything other than cheese and butter (and spices, of course) into the holy "Gerupfter".

Links:

Obatzda/Gerupfter (Wikipedia, English): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Obatzda

Graubrot (Wikipedia, German): http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Graubrot

Käseverordnung (Wikipedia, German): http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/K%C3%A4severordnung

Photo: "Fränkische Käseplatte" in a Gasthaus in Bamberg with a small helping of Gerupfter (at the top of the picture)

kaeseplatte.jpg