Germany day trip: Kiedrich

Photo by Christian Mueringer via 123RF
Photo by Christian Mueringer via 123RF

Germany day trip: Kiedrich

by Karen Bradbury
Stripes Europe

On Wiesbaden’s doorstep, there’s a unique recreational area that manages to impress even the most demanding of day-trippers. The term Rheingau refers to a historical region located on the right-hand bank of the river Rhine just to the west of the Hessian capital, as well as a wine-growing area known for turning out some of the best Rieslings in Germany, if not the world. This natural paradise of green hills and dense forests framed by low-lying mountains and a mighty river can boast more than its fair share of manmade beauty spots, amongst them a 1000-year-old wine village by the name of Kiedrich.

On an unseasonably cool spring weekday in May, not much was happening in this town of some 4,200 residents that lies just 10 miles west of Wiesbaden but feels far removed from the city scene. After alighting from our 10-minute bus ride from nearby Eltville, a friend and I strolled past a coffee shop offering cups to go and a wine shop that beckoned with pretty bottles in its window but was closed for business.

We took the unlocked gate of the churchyard as an invitation to explore and peeked into the Gothic Church of St. Valentine. From a flyer promoting tourism in the town, we learned the handsome church with its soaring spire houses Germany’s oldest still-functioning organ, made around the year 1500, along with an even older Madonna statue. Another unique feature of the church is a choir made up of boys and men who perform in a Germanic dialect dating back to the 14th century. The peaceful ensemble is completed by the St. Michael’s chapel, a trio of crosses and a cemetery.

A ramble through the town’s main drag took us past delightfully crooked, half-timbered houses, sizeable wine estates and a handful of restaurants, among them the Weinschänke Schloss Groenesteyn, which can boast a Michelin Star. Coronavirus concerns were keeping the doors of most establishments stubbornly closed.

No matter though, to two thoroughly trained pandemic picnic-packers. Walking against the flow of a gentle stream, we hiked past lilacs in full bloom and mustard-colored fields of rapeseed and up a steep slope. We soon reached a high stone tower, the remains of the 13th century Scharfenstein Castle, built on the orders of the Archbishop of Mainz to protect his trade routes. With its stone grill pits and ample picnic tables offering sweeping views of vineyards stretching clear down to the Rhine, we could imagine just how lively the place might get on a sunny summer Saturday, and were grateful for the chance to eat our packed lunch in peace.

Once rested and fed, we set off once again, soon passing the Weinberg der Ehe, or Vineyard of Matrimony. Every two years, couples who have married in Kiedrich are invited to gather and drink the wine from a vine symbolically bestowed upon them as a wedding gift from the town. A nearby wine stand serves drops from the town’s vintners Thursdays through Sundays from April to October.

Although our original plan had been to hike to the Eberbach Monastery, a helpful dog walker informed us that particular route would necessitate a return to town. So instead we opted to hike back to Eltville. An easy walk down a gently sloping gravel road soon led us back to the larger town, from which we caught the trains that whisked us back to our respective homes.

Those who believe a dash of travel magic can only be found on distant shores might find their illusions delightfully shattered by taking the time to stroll in and around the lovely Kiedrich.

Getting there: Kiedrich can be reached by taking either bus 171 or the regional train from Wiesbaden’s central station to Eltville and then transferring on to bus 172 in the direction of Hattenheim / Kloster Eberbach.  Of course, driving is an option too, and while you won't be able to sample the local wines on the spot, it’s a great chance to stock your wine rack. Weingut Robert Weil is one of the best-known and highly reputed winemakers of the town, but there are plenty of other vintners ready to give you a warm welcome too.  

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