Wine tasting by the "Piffche"

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By Gisela Kirschstein

The entrance leads from a small street underneath an ages old gate into the yard. Martin Luther stayed here, they say, maybe in 1521 on his way to the emperor's parliament in Worms. The small village of Guntersblum with its old half-timbered houses is only twenty kilometres down the Rhine from the state capital Mainz with its famous St. Martin’s cathedral. Fact is: the small house of Weingold in the middle of Guntersblum used to be a hotel for 400 years.

A beautiful white pavilion draws the eye of the visitor as soon as he steps through the gate, surrounded by a romantic setting of decorations, tables, benches and plants. "We got married here in Guntersblum, 22 years ago," Stefanie Löb remembers, "it was in the middle of the vineyards…" The 52-year-old architect was born in Frankfurt, but her family moved to the village of Guntersblum in 1988.

Stefanie studied architecture in Mainz and left to see the world: Melbourne, Manila, Wien. "I found him in London," Stefanie laughs, looking at her husband Dirk. The 51-year-old was born in Sydney, Australia, trained as a chef and worked his way up through hotels around the world, finally becoming hotel manager in Berlin and later on in Frankfurt.

"We often went for a walk through the vineyards here in Guntersblum," Stefanie says, "and each time, Dirk said: it's so beautiful here, with all those vines, growing right in front of your doorstep." Only 4,000 inhabitants live in the traditional village in the Rhine valley, yet there are 15 wineries here, winemakers with quite well a reputation. Wine has been grown here for more than 1,200 years, vineyards and village belonged to cloisters and churches and nobility until the French revolutionary army came in 1797 – and brought freedom, equality and French cuisine.

Today, they still serve Quiche Lorraine here at the Weingold, as well as Schnitzel or a Burger made of wild deer. In 2017, a dream came true for Stefanie and Dirk Löb when they bought the little hotel in Guntersblum, renamed it "Weingold" (wine gold), and made it into a harbor of wine experience – for which they were honored with the Best of Wein Tourism Award 2020 in the category of wine gastronomy.

For the true treat in the Weingold is the wine menu: 25 different wines can be tasted by the glass here, and the selection follows a very special procedure: "We meet on a Monday evening with friends, neighbours, restaurant owners and winemakers," Dirk explains, "and then we taste 85 different wines – all undercover and anonymous."

All of the wines here come from Guntersblum, "the winemakers offer us those of their products, which they think go well with our menu," Dirk says. Then, the wines are tasted and judged and rated according to the likes of the jury. "It works great and allows us to make a neutral judgement," Stefanie says, and the chosen wines have never failed to meet the taste of the customers yet.

Ten rooms and one apartment offers the small hotel, 60 guests can take seats in the small yard or inside, in the historic building. The oldest part was built in 1660, every century; another part of the house was added. Inside, the walls are covered with dark wooden panels, giving the rooms a noble and equally cosy atmosphere. In the bathrooms, a specially created wine soap awaits the guests, made from grape seed oil.

The Covid 19 lockdown hit the small hotel hard, as every other gastronomy. For nine weeks, the Weingold was closed by order of the state; they survived by offering take away menues with accompanying wines. "We have more guests now than ever," Dirk says relieved, "we are booked out practically every day now." During the pandemic, the Germans are discovering vacation at home; it's especially the wine regions that profit from the new trend.

"It's the clean air, and the relaxed atmosphere without crowds," Stefanie says – and, of course, also the craving for special treats in hard times. And then, Dirk serves three glasses of wine on a wooden rack, a pinot blanc, a pinot gris and a blanc de noir. "A lot of guests want to try different wines, but of course, 25 wines are hard to digest," Stefanie laughs. Thus, they created the "Piffche wine tasting" in small quantities. “Piffche” stands for a 0, 1 liter glass of wine "That way you can taste several wines during one evening without having to order a whole bottle." The whole variety of the Guntersblum wine world – Martin Luther would have been thrilled, for sure.

Learn more about Weingold Guntersblum: www.weingold-guntersblum.de