Berlin, Deutschland (Gastrosofie). Häcker? What the heck is that, a Häcker? In Franconian this is the word for winemaker. But before we drop in, to be more precise: into the “Häckerwirtschaft” of Giegerich winery in Großwallstadt, we hike – led by the sign of a red wine glass.
Since 1990, a hiking trail has been marked with a red wine glass in the river Main region around Miltenberg, which has recently been named “Churfranken”. The route is 79 kilometres long and leads more or less along the Main between Spessart and Odenwald and through vineyards, picturesque villages and towns. At least locally, Churfranken seems to have become naturalized. In any case, we take note of the name again and again on the second lap of a total of six stages that leads from Großostheim to Elsenfeld.
This part of the route is 17.2 kilometres long and offers ascent to the hills here described as mountains and a descent into valleys, but within that up and down there are always places for “rest and be thankful” on the northern Odenwald foothills, for example in the vineyards of the Giegerich estate on Lützeltaler Berg and at Pitztal near Großwallstadt. They are located in the Bergstrasse-Odenwald Nature Park, which was named a Geopark in 2004 and is now called the Geo-Naturpark Bergstraße-Odenwald. Roughly speaking, the aim is to preserve its natural areas and to manage its cultural landscape sustainably. The area below the Sattelberg, Dachsberg (231 m), Dürnberg, Neuberg (284 m), Kirchenhöhe, Leimberg and Pfaffenberg heights along this green route seems to be as far as the eye can see in good shape and well-kept. This also applies to the valleys Lang-, Lützel- and Pitztal.
The Giegerich family, working together aptly as two generations of winemakers, have vineyards in Lützeltal and Pitztal valleys. Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Blanc grow on 6.7 hectares of Lützeltaler Berg top of red sandstone weathering with loess-clay layer above. Pinot Noir, Riesling and Silvaner are grown on 6.9 hectares in the Pitztal.
Both locations are spoiled by sun. „Glowing in the sun“, one says and speaks warmly of a „mild climate“. In addition, both valleys are nicely surrounded by forest from which the game ventures when it is hungry and there is peace and quiet in the vineyard.
Every now and then a detour off the hiking trail is worthwhile like a walk through the deep valley to the Mariengrotte, which was also known as the Lourdesgrotte. This lies deep in a valley of the Odenwald and was built in 1894 by a veterans‘ association having returned safely from the Franco-Prussian War 1870/71. Behold, beneath the Madonna a lordly saying: „O, Maria, pray for us.“
Waiting for the tired trackers on the trail at a beautiful vineyard location in the Pitztal are benches around a richly laid table. In good weather, hikers will always find a perfect spot for a picnic. However, you should really have a lot of hunger and thirst when spending the evening at the “Häckerwirtschaft” of the Giegerich winery.
The next “Häckerzeit” is coming up soon. From Friday, January 17th, 2020 to Sunday, February 2nd, 2020, it will be open daily from 11:30 a.m. Food („traditional Häcker cuisine“) and lots to drink are offered! How about one of the ten wines submitted to the Franconian Wine Awards 2019, for which Giegerich Winery won seven gold and three silver medals. „Whether Burgundy, Silvaner or Sauvignon Blanc – we received precious metal for all wines,“ said smiling Helga and Klaus Giegerich with their sons Philipp and Kilian, who had grown these wines „largely … on their own accord“. What a record to record! Cheer them on then.
Address: Weichgasse 19, D-63868 Großwallstadt
Phone: +49 6022 655 355
Christopher Prescott based on a text by Ole Bolle.