Dernau, the wine paradise lures us to the Ahr river

Dernau, the wine paradise lures us to the Ahr river

For several years we have been friends with Frank and his wife who, in addition to the vineyards, also run a small guesthouse in Dernau and have also been producing really fine wine in Turkey with great success for several years.

A visit to the wine town of Dernau has therefore been on our travel program several times, but there was always a lack of time. Dernau is a small town in the district of Ahrweiler in the north of Rhineland-Palatinate, which we only know about while driving through the museum of the Roman Villa in Ahrweiler on the way to the Nürburg Ring.

Early on Thursday morning we start the journey towards Dernau, past Frankfurt, through the Rhine Valley to Koblenz, where we then head towards Ahrweiler. Amazingly, there is little activity on the streets, so that we arrive in Dernau well before the agreed time. And as so often, we use the time to explore the surroundings a little more closely. Just the drive through the Ahr Valley is an experience: small, idyllic wine villages along the banks of the Ahr, wonderfully situated campsites and an awakening spring landscape that invites you to go hiking or cycling. Formerly enthusiastic motorsport enthusiasts themselves, of course, the nearby Nordschleife of the Nürburg Ring is extremely attractive, especially since it is just 35 kilometers to the race track.

A detour to the Nürburgring race track

b_450_450_16777215_00_images_deutschland_rheinland-pfalz_nrburgring-klassiker-2.JPGTo Altenahr we use the country road 267, then on the 257 to Adenau, where we make a short stop in the parking lot at the second entrance to the Nordschleife to take a look at this notorious racetrack. Coming from Quiddelbacher Höhe, the route of the Nordschleife runs here as a bridge over the country road. And as always, there is a lot of activity on the Nordschleife and at the parking lot near the driveway. One can just hope that despite the quarrels about the Nürburgring GmbH known from the media, this historic “Green Hell” route will be preserved. We quickly become involved in conversations with other visitors and are also pointed out to some "Erlkönige" who are on test drives on the Nordschleife. We will report on this activity and the visit to the Nürburg separately.

The red wine hiking trail - a tourist highlight

b_450_450_16777215_00_images_deutschland_rheinland-pfalz_dernau-wanderwege.jpgSlowly it was time to drive back to Dernau, because the agreed time of our meeting was approaching. Frank is waiting for us in front of the house and a coffee is already ready on the table, plus a piece of cake, what more could the dear soul want. We are quickly absorbed in the exchange of experiences and events of the last few months and time flies by. Frank has planned a little picnic on Dernau's local mountain, so that we will be on our way to Krausberg in the late afternoon. In addition to an observation tower made of natural stone, there is a small restaurant that is run up here by a privately organized association. A popular recreational destination for the local population with a wonderful view of the Ahr valley and Dernau in particular.

b_450_450_16777215_00_images_deutschland_rheinland-pfalz_dernau-rotwein.jpgThe location can be rented for events, so that private celebrations often take place as well. Hiking trails are shown on a display board that lead along the slopes of the Ahr valley through the vineyards. These paths are of course particularly easy to see from up here. A very special path is the so-called red wine hiking trail, which is probably one of the most beautiful and well-known hiking trails in Germany. The red wine hiking trail always leads along the Ahr for a distance of approx. 30 kilometers along a varied hiking route with varying degrees of difficulty. One recommendation is to take part in the so-called Dernau Spring, as many winegrowers have opened their doors in addition to the hiking trails or have set up stands along the hiking route. In this way, physical well-being is always taken care of during the hike. We are now finishing our first exploration of the Dernau area, because it is getting noticeably cool up here on the Krausberg.

A striking destination - Roman villa in Ahrweiler

b_450_450_16777215_00_images_deutschland_rheinland-pfalz_villa_rustica_ahrweiler_ansicht.jpgIn the evening we sit together for a while and learn some details about the community itself. Finding the Roman villa in Ahrweiler already indicates that the Ahr valley was also settled by the Romans. When work was being carried out on establishing the cellars of the Dernau winegrowers' association in 1884, parts of a Roman courtyard were also found here, which had a hot water supply, bathing facilities and a burial ground. This Villa Rustica was once comparable in size to the farm site excavated in Ahrweiler, at least this is indicated by mosaics and coin finds from the 3rd and 4th centuries.

After the collapse of the Roman Age, the Franks first settled in the Ahr Valley. Two medieval castles, the ruins of which are said to have been visible until the 1950s, were built here by the Ripuarians. The parcels "Im Graben" and "An der Burg" still point to this today.

Historical background of Dernau and the surrounding area

b_450_450_16777215_00_images_deutschland_rheinland-pfalz_dernau-aussichtsturm.jpgUntil around 843, the region around Dernau belonged to the Frankish Carolingian Empire, the division of which became known due to the resolutions of the Treaty of Verdun by Lothar I, ruler of the so-called Middle Kingdom and namesake of the later Lorraine region. Just 12 years later, Lothar I divided his imperial territory, which bordered from Friesland over the Rhine Valley to the Mediterranean, again among his descendants.

In 1588 Dernau was plundered by the troops and mercenaries of Martin Schenk von Nideggen, during the Thirty Years War the Saffenburg was the scene of several witch trials, which could only be ended with the occupation by the Swedes in 1632 after the witch hunters had been driven out. Again Dernau, Mayschoss and Rech were plundered by the troops. To prevent further occupations of the Saffenburg by mercenary troops, the Duke of Jülich had destroyed  the Saffenburg in 1704.

b_450_450_16777215_00_images_deutschland_rheinland-pfalz_dernau-weinhang.jpgDespite an initially strict policy of secrecy, Dernau then appeared again and again in the headlines of the press in the 1960s: the mysterious government bunker was built between Ahrweiler and Dernau under the code name “Dienststelle Marienthal”. A total of 12 years worked on this building, which was to serve the constitutional organs of the Federal Republic of Germany at that time as an alternative seat of the government in the event of a defense. With the end of the Cold War and the move of the federal government to Berlin, the strategic importance of the government bunker was over. Today, a small part of the bunker serves as a museum, which opened on September 1, 2008. How immense the bunker system actually used to be can only be guessed at from the various entrance portals. The bunker museum is definitely worth a visit.

Let's go to the red wine hiking trail

b_450_450_16777215_00_images_deutschland_rheinland-pfalz_dernau-weinrebe.jpgAfter a hearty breakfast the following morning, Frank invites us to take a short walk along the red wine hiking trail, which leads us from the center of Dernau out onto the terraced slopes and paths of the vineyards. Now it is also clear how difficult it really must be to grow wine in the Ahrteil, so steep are the slopes and so different are the refinement structures of the vines. Sometimes the vines are cut very short and just one shoot is tied to the human-made carrying system, sometimes there are several shoots. Then again the shoots are bound almost in a circle, then again the vine is very high and shows a multitude of shoots. It's a very interesting walk along the so different cultivation methods and varieties with such extensive new knowledge that was simply unknown to us up to now. Of course, we won't become a wine connoisseur right away with this first walk, but at least it becomes clear what a great influence the slope and cultivation method will have on the quality of the wines.

The Marienthal Monastery - a monastery church ruin

b_450_450_16777215_00_images_deutschland_rheinland-pfalz_dernau-ahrschleife-2.jpgWe leave the vineyards along the route marked Klosterstrasse, because Frank has another sight that he would like to introduce to us: the Marienthal Monastery. Founded around 1136, looted by Swedish troops in 1632 and burned to the ground by Turenne's troops in 1646, then completely rebuilt in 1699, the monastery was abolished under Napoleon as part of secularization in 1802. Today a modern restaurant and wine production facility, the facility serves as a local recreation destination with a very special highlight: the monastery church ruins. Just the surrounding walls of the church are still standing, but concerts or other cultural events take place here several times a year. The probably best-known German jazz rocker Klaus Doldinger has already made a guest appearance in the monastery church ruins. We take the opportunity to visit and end the tour in the wonderful courtyard with a glass of wine. Of course, during the conversation that now follows, some interesting perspectives with regard to future events arise here on site. The formerly state-owned winery was taken over by local private wineries in 2004 and expanded.

b_450_450_16777215_00_images_deutschland_rheinland-pfalz_dernau-kloster.jpgWe end our tour of Dernau less later with a friend of Frank's winemaker, who also leads us into his “wine treasure chamber”. Once a year, the two wine experts travel somewhere in the world to exchange ideas with other wine producers as part of a concept between training and relaxation. During these trips, in addition to a lot of experience and information, real rarities are sometimes bought up and added to the collection in Dernau. We also learn here that the winemaker also keeps special wines as remnants for special occasions and no longer sells them, even despite interesting offers. An interesting and informative day in Dernau is drawing to a close.

Please also read:

Ahrtal - wine route and red wine hiking trail (coming soon)
Villa Rusticae in Bad Neuenahr-Ahrweiler (coming soon)



Life | Outdoors