Nierstein - Springtime in the (maybe) most beautiful town in the world

22.04.2015 20:02

Tiny, green, sparkling in the sunlight - the vine-buds strive towards the light. Millions of them, growing on hundreds of hectars earth. Their little knobbly heads are stretching skywards, reaching out from young and old vine branches, longing for warming energy. They want to grow, they want to send out buds, leaves, and ultimately grapes. They want to become thick and round and juicy, taking in the minerals of the terrain, growing into delightful bunches of grapes. Then they hope for a gentle hand, cutting them off the vines with a swift movement, subsequently crushing them slowly, fermenting them and finally filling them into bottles.

Vine branches in Nierstein, Germany. Foto: Wolfgang Bürkle

This is my habitat. Nierstein means home. Gently billowing hills at the river Rhine. Vines driving their roots into matchless red soil. A small town, surrounded on three sides by vineyards, the forth is marked by Father Rhine, guiding the view over the Hessian lowlands. A small winged creek (the Flügelsbach) runs through Nierstein, from the Rhinehessian upland down to the Rhine, flowing past and under houses.

Home means the countryside and the people. Children and teenager on their way to school, playing soccer on the sports fields, loitering at the train station. The working people, taking a walk or driving with their cars through the narrow streets. All of them are forming a queue in front of the ice-cream parlors with the first warm days of the year. On the riverside they walk, bike, eat, and drink - always with the busy B9-road in their backs.

Nierstein, Germany. Foto: Wolfgang Bürkle

Located in the town-centre is an almost finished construction site: Once here was a huge, ugly malt factory - after it was torn down, they started to enlarge an old aristocratical building - once part of the factory - for luxury housing. In the paleontological museum ancient shark-teeth hunt for the skeleton of an extinct sea cow. Corals thrived here millions of years ago, where now vines are growing. Today I can enjoy the most beautiful (and prize-winning) wine-view from the "Rieslinghütte" on top of a hill called Brudersberg. The river Rhine flows beneath me, the financial towers of Frankfurt shine in the distance, a sharp contrast to the Odenwald and the Taunus-forest. On the right side of me is the prominent onion-domed tower of the St. Kilian church, just in front of the oldest known vineyard "Glöck". Romano-celtic history can be found at the southern town exit in the 2000-year-old Sironabad, a sulphurous fountain. On top of everything sits enthroned the Wartturm, the town's landmark and historical signal for friend and foe.

Nierstein, Germany. Foto: Wolfgang Bürkle

The wineries open their cellars, presenting their youngest liquids, sometimes directly from the casks. Slightly acidic or mellow and sweet they shine in the glasses. The wine-festivals are at the ready - from the Weinpräsentation in the midst of the world-famous "Roten Hang", to the highlight: the Winzerfest in August. Young and old, rich and poor, craftsmen and professors, sit shoulder by shoulder in the restaurants and "Straußwirtschaften". They eat and drink and love and sing in historic cellars and courts, sometimes folksy, sometimes modern, sometimes both. Aromatic head cheese gleams on the big plate next to blood sausage. As long as everybody talks in the regional dialect, the world is in order. The tacky and exaggerated tourism of Rüdesheim could not conquer our side of the Rhine. There is a down-to-earth and informal atmosphere at the wineries, without a moment of showing off. The perfect countryish idyll becomes reality - seen in all subjectivity. And when Riesling, Silvaner, Müller-Thurgau and Burgundy wine are streaming down the throats, the children of the vine-buds have found their destiny. 


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