How did a regular “lover of culture” become a culture organizer? Back in 2012, Stefan Spies discovered, by chance, a small vineyard and wine cellar for sale in Westhofen. When he saw the vaulted cellar for the first time, it was clear to him: “Culture belongs here!” The vault reminded him of the well-known Mainz cabaret theatre, Unterhaus, where as a member of the audience he often enjoyed the comedies performed on its stage. In the wine vault, he could literally see the artists on stage and hear the laughter and applause of the audience!
Inspiring culture as part of the total work of art
In fact, Stefan Spies is not a dreamer, but a successful proprietor of a marketing agency. Even during the renovation of this historic building,
with its outbuildings and outdoor facilities, he was already making plans for attractive performance opportunities in addition to the restaurant, wine garden and hotel: Eating and drinking with entertainment!
For Stefan Spies, this synthesis of art belongs here with its small cabaret stage in the vaulted cellar – reminiscent of the one in the Unterhaus. Lighting and sound equipment, 200 bright red seats for the audience, a theater foyer and an artist’s dressing room round off “GUT LEBEN am Morstein”. For the summer season, he has created open-air venues in the historic courtyard and on the terrace in the vineyard.
And where do you get the artists?
And the programme? Where does the Rhine-Hessian get his artists? “I put together the cultural programme myself, which I enjoy, and it goes without saying that I have to like the artists too!” So says Stefan Spies, who tries to be present at all events.
In the beginning, Dr. David Maier, cultural coordinator of the city of Worms, and Ludwig Jantzer from the Frankfurter Hof in Mainz gave him valuable tips on which artists might suit the Morstein – today he plans the programme by himself.
Stefan Spies reacted creatively to the pandemic by setting up the Morstein Culture Festival “GUT LEBEN im Sommer” virtually overnight: With artists from all over the region, as well as well-known names from the music and cabaret scene, he has managed to lure his audiences to the province. From May to September 2020, 12 events took place. And because of this success, Stefan Spies repeated the festival in the following two years.
Celebrities such as Wolfgang Niedecken from BAP and the comedian Tobias Mann have already played on the Morstein stage. In the beginning, mainly visitors from Worms and the surrounding area came to Westhofen – in the meantime, the radius has expanded to cities like Mannheim and Ludwigshafen in the south and Mainz in the north.
Wine as a unifying leitmotif
Wine also plays an important role at the festival. It is, figuratively speaking, running through the Morstein facility as a leading theme. The ensemble also includes a vineyard on the Morstein site, which is leased to the renowned Wittmann winery.
Conferences during the week, celebrations and culture at the weekend: Visitors are slowly coming back after the pandemic. Stefan Spies is sure that “the Morstein only works when all the elements work together”. The tireless patron completes a seven-day, eight hours a day working week in his Frankfurt agency and a further eight hours at the Morstein – supported by his wife, parents and of course, a dedicated team. Which artist would he like to see perform on his stage one day? “Herbert Grönemeyer or Udo Lindenberg would be quite nice – but it will probably remain only a dream!”
Not just a dream – magical
“GUT LEBEN am Morstein” is no dream:
Stefan Spies has created an impressive synthesis of the arts around culture, enjoyment and wine.
With this unique event location, “GUT LEBEN am Morstein” has clearly earned the prize for the Great Wine
Capitals Best of Wine Tourism Award 2022 in the category “Art & Culture”.
To learn more about “Gut Leben am Morstein” visit the website.
About the blogger:
TV- and wine journalist Wolfgang Junglas is responsible for tv broadcasts such as “The Election of the German Wine Queen” in the entertainment editorial department at SWR Television in Mainz. He is also a writer, president of Weinfeder e. V., president of FIJEV and lecturer at Geisenheim University, Geisenheim.
Learn more about Rheinhessen and its wine capital Mainz on their page: Mainz | Rheinhessen