It`s early in the morning when we leave the city, heading for the mountains. Not the mountains as I know them, but mountains nonetheless.
Our destination is the vineyard Seckler in Schweppenhausen. We’re meeting with a good friend, winemaker Frank.
You might know of Frank from a previous blogpost: Collaboratively we produced our very first home-made „JECKYBENG“-wine. If everything works out, it`s going to be a „Weisser Burgunder“, but this really depends on how many grapes we pick today. Today is the hand-picking harvest.
From Mainz to quiet and quaint Schweppenhausen by car is only about 30 minutes. Very quickly the scenery changes from urban sprawl to interconnecting vineyards. There’s clear evidence how important wine culture is to this remote area, or rather how much it shapes the landscape.
Compared to typical wine estates everything looks very harmonic and natural here. The rows of vines appear like decoration for the hillsides. Even the weather behaves itself, we get sun all day long, the kind of romantic, golden autumn day you read about in novels. Perfect conditions for the harvest says Frank.
The small vineyard is slightly elevated with a stunning panoramic view over the deep fir forests of the Hunsrück below. The colors and shapes remind me of the small model railway trees from childhood. It’s still early and patches of mist rise above the forest. The whole scene is a mix of browns, reds and dark greens: It’s clearly autumn. Inspiration is everywhere. You can become distracted quickly by this view when plucking grapes from the vines. The wide-open view over the valleys and hills is just too beautiful, only a handful of houses are visible.
Frank and his uncle told us that almost everybody in this region connects directly to the vine-business. This starts in the early childhood with helping out at the harvest stocking up pocket money or offhandedly, everybody`s helping out each other. One knows one another. It`s just a part of everyday life.
After first instructions and hints the harvest can finally begin. We`re equipped with scissors, bucket and solid footwear because more than ever it can get very slippery in the vineyards in autumn. It`s comfortable in here. Antsy but nevertheless a very relaxed gathering. And especially very satisfying because you can see within the shortest time what you have done – like in every craftsmanship. Bucket around bucket are poured into the trailer. The seasoned grapes get off, the small, acidly grapes stay. Simple as that. But still taxing, you clearly feel your arms after a few rows and the fingers stick from the sweet grape juice.