The sign was almost bigger than she was.

To be fair, my mom’s cousin, Gudrun, is quite petite. But the size ratio between her and the homemade sign made her efforts that much more appreciable. (We recreated how Gudrun held up the sign to greet us at the Frankfurt airport, back in our room.)

Traveling is stressful. Even if your destination is the beach, you still have the packing, the racing to make the flight, the worrying if that cab driver ripped you off … all of those things can stress you out. Throw in an overseas flight, and when you’ve finally arrived, all you want is to curl up in a ball, tell everyone to bug off and promptly pass out.

After 20 hours of traveling, my parents and I were looking forward to chilling the heck out. Not at the beach, but somewhere (arguably) better.

Wine country.

Gudrun and her husband, Tomas, live on a vineyard. The 74-acre estate has grown Riesling grapes for over 100 years.

This, my friends, is what you need after a long journey: creature comforts.

There were chaise lounges and beautiful views. Fresh air and peaceful quiet. A bottle of wine and a basket of freshly picked apples awaited us in our room — nay, our suite. Crisp linens, a spacious bathroom and steamy hot shower. No need to asked for more.

And I very much liked the couch.

Besides the house in which Gudrun and Tomas live, a guesthouse accommodates visitors seeking a wine retreat, complete with tasting, meals, and as much relaxation as you can cram into your stay.

After a bit of a nap, we walked from the guesthouse up though a row of vines to Tomas and Gudrun’s place.

They had a light lunch and bubbly waiting for us on the deck.

The deck with the a view. And Mom and Dad. (Haha.)

After lunch, Gudrun took us on a tour of the Gut Hermannsberg winemaking facilities.

Once the grapes have been picked and sorted, a forklift dumps the grapes into the press.

Down in the cellar, the old decommissioned barrels smelled oaky and damp. They haven’t been used in years, but the wine estate keeps them around to show, well, people like us.

These days Gut Hermannsberg only has 4 operational barrels. The majority of their wine is fermented and aged in stainless steel tanks.

This room, under lock and key, is the Schatzkammer. “Treasure room.” Inside are the estate’s oldest, rarest, and most precious bottles of wine.

Upstairs in the tasting room, Gudrun explains to us the differences between the various Gut Hermannsberg wines. Some are of higher quality than others, this due to the selectiveness of the grapes used to make each wine.

Thank you for the tour, Gudrun.

Back at the guesthouse, we were left to our own devices. Dad, down for the (nap) count, found a nice place for a snooze.

Still full of energy from my crash on the couch, I decided to climb to the top of the vineyard.

Three hundred fifty- … six? Or was it seven? I lost count.

While I was climbing up through the rows of vines, my mom was down below just outside the guesthouse taking Where’s Waldo? photos of me with her camera.

Can you find me?

Let me zoom in a bit.

Not exactly camouflaged, am I?

All alone up at the top, the view was lovely and the air was crisp. I took a few deep breaths and felt …

… relaxed. ☼