Top 5 For the Mosel Valley
- White wine tasting – obviously.
- A stroll along the beautiful riverbank and up through the vineyards.
- Rent bikes to travel between the towns.
- Make the trek up to Cochem castle.
- Enjoy some local, traditional, heavy German food.
Stunningly beautiful scenery, wildly steep vineyards, never-ending sunshine, and fairy tale castles. This was my impression of the Mosel Valley and I think it’s pretty accurate. We arrived here in early May, where vivid green trees, grasses, explosions of wildflowers, and cherry blossoms lead us to believe there had been a lot of rain recently. The Mosel is a river running through France, Germany, and Luxembourg, and is well-known for being a mecca for white wine vineyards, Riesling being the most famous. For all you Riesling-haters, you can’t say a word until you’ve tried a dry, crisp, mineral, fresh Mosel Riesling. Read more about Riesling here: http://blog.drync.com/riesling-myths-debunked/.
We arrived by train to Cochem, the main town along the German stretch of the river, and took a taxi down the river a couple towns, to our small B&B in Ernst. This B&B was simple and clean, where we had a large triple room with private bathroom and an extensive continental breakfast buffet each morning- sliced meats, cheeses, boiled eggs, breads, marmalades, butter, yogurt, coffee, and juice. It was the perfect start to set us off on days full of walking by the river, touring the towns, and wine tasting. The B&B also provided us with a pass for the local bus, which frequently goes between the towns, making town-hopping and wine drinking easy as pie. Our first visit was back to Cochem – full of tourists enjoying the hot sunshine and ideal setting. We stopped, naturally, for a little “Weinprobe” – wine tasting. You will see “Weinprobe” signs littering all the towns along the river- and this can mean anything from a family serving their vintages out their front door, or a well-established Cellar serving wines from all around the valley. Our first tasting was all whites from the Moselle, and we discovered that Germans are not shy about their portion sizes. A “Taster” glass was more like a half-glass. Alongside a positive mountain of local cheese we had quite the task at hand, but we managed to pass with flying colours.
After paying the bill, we wound a slow path up the adorable crooked cobblestone streets towards Cochem castle. The Cochem castle, built originally in the 12th century, destroyed by King Louis XIV, then rebuilt in 1868, stands proudly on the hill above Cochem. Although it’s recent rebuild means it’s not completely authentic, it’s still stunningly beautiful. We snapped some pictures after the sweaty climb up (all castles involve a sweaty hill climb) and poked around before wandering back down.
Next, we crossed the bridge back in the centre of town and visited the Historische Senfmuhle (Historical mustard mill) directly across from Cochem. Here you can sample delicious local mustards, vinegars, and dips, and take home a little souvenir too. We sat outside at a café afterwards to enjoy a cold drink in the sunshine.
The next day, we decided to walk from Ernst along the river to catch the ferry across to Beilstein. Beilstein is one of the best preserved towns along the river, sometimes called “mini Rothenberg”, another famous German city known for its gorgeous Old Town. The ruins of the Burg Metternich sit above the town, which we climbed to (another sweaty one) and enjoyed the view over a cup of coffee. We shopped at the cute little boutiques and art galleries on the way down.
In the afternoon, after getting a map at the Tourist Information Center, we did a short hike up through the vineyards, giving us sweeping views of the river valley. It’s absolutely amazing to see just how steep these slopes are – it’s vertigo-inducing. The fact that the wine vines manage to cling to the hillside with all their might and produce such fantastic wines is astonishing. Vineyard workers here have a challenging job, with the tough, steep, unfriendly terrain being a constant battle. Quickly the heat, humidity, and steep climb certainly got the better of us, and we descended down to the first “Weinprobe” sign we saw.
At a hotel cellar, where they had an expansive assortment of wines, our friendly Sommelier offered to give us an informal tasting – in English, all the better! We tried 5 different whites, and it was very interesting to hear about the different levels of sweetness in the Rieslings, and more interesting to learn that a “half-sweet” Riesling can sometimes taste drier than a “dry” Riesling, depending on the amount of sugar originally in the grapes, as well as the amount remaining.
In Cochem that evening, we made a reservation at Zom Stueffje (http://www.zom-stueffje.de)– slightly hidden along a side street. They served fabulous local wines and traditional local German food such as Schnitzel, spätzle, and sausage salad.
The next day happened to be my birthday :). We enjoyed a truly relaxing day, with another walk along the river in the glorious sunshine, another wine tasting, and dinner at Hotel Pollmans in Ernst. Since it was May, this means only one thing in Germany – Spargelzeit! This means “asparagus time” – Germans go ga-ga for white asparagus, usually served with thinly sliced ham, boiled potatoes, and hollandaise sauce. So, we did as the Germans do and tried it. It was . . . a lot of hype for a white tasteless vegetable, accompanied by another white tasteless vegetable and covered in hollandaise. All I could taste was sauce. Alas, you have to try everything once! We finished the meal with a gargantuan ice cream sundae, another German staple, and then trotted home to bed.
The Moselle was a truly relaxing, gloriously sunny, hot, and wine-filled holiday. I loved it.