The Night Before My Hangover

Does this look like a rowdy crowd to you?

Hmm… not exactly.

It looks like is a polite dinner party, on a unassuming deck, overlooking a vineyard in the Nähe winegrowing region of southwest Germany.

And if we look closer, we see this:

A lovely bottle of Gut Hermannsberg riesling. But one bottle of wine, of course, was no where near enough for a dinner of five people. But two? Surely two would have been sufficient. But just two? Gudrun and Tomas had other ideas.

We started drinking. The sun went down.

And looked pretty on the house.

Specifically the window.

Oh and before the sunset, there was me smiling for this photo:

By the time dusk rolled around, we were in the midst of a rockin’ good time. Gudrun had served a delicious dinner of salmon, potatoes and roasted vegetables.

Periodically during the meal, Gudrun would look at Tomas and say something like, “Oh we simply must have that bottle of such-and-such from France!” or Tomas would say, “Wait, I have something…” And each of them would scurry off and procure yet another bottle from the ‘Maurer Schatzkammer.’

Tomas and Gudrun have wines from just about everywhere. And they have (quite) a few bottles of the stiffer variety too.

This resulted in a parade of wine and cognac bottles across our dinner table.

In addition to the first bottle of Gut Hermannsberg riesling, we also drank a

  • German pinot noir
  • French ‘port’ (hey–it’s in quotes, you wine snobs, yes a real port can only be from Portugal)
  • Italian ‘port’ (stings, doesn’t it?)
  • “Tomas & Gudrun” cognac (you can’t refuse liquor when you know the people who’s names are on the label)

If I didn’t know any better, I’d think my relatives were trying to get me schnockered. (And yes, that word, in its present tense, is a real word.)

All of these bottles all over the table wouldn’t have been a big deal, if the wine wasn’t so darn good.

By this time, we were slowing down. I was not (thank goodness) that I recall (oh dear) acting too weird by this point. But if I was, then lucky for me that more food came ’round…

Cheese plate!

I LOVE cheese. When you’re feeling tipsy actually kind of drunk, eating a fancy cheeseboard (not the board) is one of my favorite ways to nip a hangover in the bud.

But the bottle parade was not over. Tomas went and dug up this beast:

Scary. (As if we I needed more alcohol.)

But I just had to try this 15-year old bottle of cognac. (By the way, doesn’t it look more like 100 years old?) And so, the cork was popped.

That did me in. Early the next morning, Gudrun, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and dressed in running pants and tennis shoes, was ready to play adventue guide for us up and down the hills of the vineyard. (How can I compete with someone who lives and works on a vineyard? It’s just not possible. Read: it’s her job to drink wine.)

Are you coming? they asked. My parents, the early-morning-every-day-no-matter-the-weather walkers they are, joined Gudrun for some lovely fresh air. I think not, I said.

No sir. On that particular morning, I did not care for fresh air. I preferred that my head stay in bed.

However, it could have been much worse. It was a bit of a headache, and nothing else. And for that, I thank the cheese plate. ☼

Relax… You’re on a Vineyard

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. ☼