Christmas – or “Weihnachts” in German – is fast approaching and that means the famous German Christmas Markets are now well underway. For those of us living in or visiting the Mosel, the unique combination of the magical market atmosphere coupled with picturesque surroundings really is unbeatable.
So put on your woolly scarves and gloves and indulge in a glass or two of the ubiquitous “Glühwein” (warm mulled wine) or “Eierlikor” (eggnog) as you browse a multitude of stalls selling crafts, trinkets, sweets and a whole host of other traditional (an not so traditional) Christmas goods.
Most towns big and small have at least one market, some lasting just for a few days and others for much longer, and you can find a selection of those that take place in and around the valley here, or for a little further afield but still close enough for a day trip click here.
Great news peeps – the British Cheese Emporium has now re-opened its online shop, bringing the finest cheeses the British Isles has to offer right to your door.
I was really sad when they suspended operations previously as they were very unique in the service they offered and very professional too. They had a superb, continually changing selection of artisan cheeses from around the UK, many of which I never knew existed but I was never disappointed. And not forgetting an impressive selection of biscuits (forget Cream Crackers and Tuc, we are talking quality nibbles here) and accessories to serve the cheese with the elegance it deserves. I am very confident the range and service offered by the re-opened webshop will be first class just as it was before.
I have always been fascinated by maps, and never more so than now that space-age technology beams crystal clear satellite imagery straight to my iPad. I spend literally hours ‘traveling’ the world on Google Earth, but I must admit the confluence of the Mosel and the Rhine at the Deutsches Eck (German Corner) in Koblenz never ceases to amaze me – how is it the water of the two rivers does not seem to mix?! I haven’t a clue about the phenomenon behind this, but who cares when it makes for great images such as this! Continue reading
It is a generally accepted fact that the Romans first planted the vineyards that we see today along the length of the Mosel, starting a tradition of wine making that has – apart from a little mechanisation – has changed relatively little over the centuries. Continue reading
A short while ago I posted a picture of the source of the Mosel in France where is but a mere trickle from a spring – amazing considering the size of the river running through Germany.
Well, this picture is one of the reasons why the river is so large. It is the river Ueßbach which joins the Alfbach just above the lovely town of Alf. The Alfbach is one of the numerous tributaries of the Mosel which constantly feed it from the surrounding hills, and as you can see it carries a fair amount of water through some lovely woodland scenery.
A lot of people just explore the Mosel valley, but you don’t have to go far up the hills to come across more stunning places and it is a great way of getting away from the bulk of the tourists in summer. So put on your boots and waterproofs and get out there – you won’t regret it!
Tractors taking a well-earned break during the grape harvest in Zell an der Mosel. Tractors are some of the few items of machinery used during the harvest in the region, as the steepness of the vineyards make mechanisation very difficult and as such most things are done by hand as they have been since the Romans first introduced grapes to the region around 2,000 years ago.
The grape harvest falls within a very short window in the year, and getting it wrong could cause the wine to be inferior or even be a total failure. The experience and intuition of the winemaker is the key to deciding when to harvest, and his knowledge of the grapes, the weather, the soil and everything to do with successful wine making has been passed down through generations. In fact, wine making in the Mosel region is probably one of the few very crafts which has not changed significantly since ancient times.
I am not a huge fan of statistics as no matter how factual they are, if read out of context they can be misleading also. However, I did stumble across a website called German Food Guide which had some figures which really made me appreciate more the scale of wine producing in the region.
I quote the following from that site:
“Germany’s fifth largest wine region”
“22,217 acres (8,991 hectares)”
“5,258 wineries in 125 towns”
And now for the really good bit:
“22,190,448 gallons (840,000 hectoliters) of wine are produced annually in the Mosel region … This accounts for 9% of the volume from Germany’s entire wine region”
That is a lot of plonk, right? And that is great for us as it means there is plenty to go round!
The website is clearly run by people with a real passion for German food and drink, and as a bonus it has some great recipes categorised by region. You can find the site here.
The grape harvest is a stark reminder that summer is now long gone and winter will soon be upon us.
I have only ever spent time in the valley during the warmer months, but thanks to the power of the internet, I have found enough stuff on events in some previous winters to give me a few sleepless nights!
High water and floods seem to be par for the course, although I must admit I never expected this which happened in the winter of 1997:
Whilst the idea of being able to skate across the river sounds fun, once the ice melts it causes an awful lot of damage, so let’s hope that this “treat” does not repeat too often.