Eberbach Monastery winery in the hills near the Rhine has thrived since the Middle Ages
By DAVID EDGE | Stars and Stripes | Published: July 2, 2020
The Eberbach Monastery gives visitors a glimpse at nine centuries of winemaking and the life of the monks that made it.
The monastery is about 25 minutes from the Army’s Hainerberg area, in the hills outside of Eltville. Originally founded in 1136 by 12 Cistercian monks, the monastery and winery have been beautifully preserved.
When I first arrived, my eyes were immediately drawn to the Romanesque basilica that dominated the surroundings. The large tracery windows flooded the basilica with light. The expansive, three-aisled church has been restored several times over the centuries; recent renovations unearthed remains of a Gothic floor and ancient tombs.
Walking through the monastery and under its repeating, wood-beamed archways felt like stepping back in time. While exploring, I took an English audio tour and heard more about the monks who once lived here, learning, among other things, that they weren’t allowed to speak to each other outside of the chapter house.
The monks prayed and did the work of the church, while the lay brothers that lived there did most of the manual labor jobs, including working the vineyards.
Today, the lay brothers’ dining room houses the 12 original wine presses that were used at the monastery.
Among the mix of Romanesque, Gothic, Baroque and modern buildings that surrounded the abbey, I was pleasantly surprised to find a hotel and restaurant.
Part of the hotel was constructed in the 16th century as a barn and mill for the monastery. The restaurant Klosterschanke, near the garden, serves a wide range of regional specialties as well as rustic dishes from the state of Hesse. The vineyard’s wine is available there or on tasting courses at the wine shop.
If you are a history lover like me or simply want something to do for the day, the Eberbach Monastery is a great place to visit.
DIRECTIONS: Address: D-65346 Eltville am Rhein, Germany
TIMES: Monday through Friday 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday and Sunday 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
COSTS: Entrance fee per adult is 9.50 euros; group prices vary. Individual tours with wine tasting range from 16.50 to 24.90 euros.