Marienthal Monastery: A Modern Estate in Historical SurroundingsMarienthal, the oldest monastery in the Ahr River Valley, was founded in 1137 near Dernau. In its heyday, it was run by Augustinian nuns, whose life was anything but easy.
Chronicles record strife and legal battles with neighboring communities. The nuns also had to cope with frequent flooding by the Hubach, a small tributary of the Ahr. The monastery housed seven workshops, among them a distillery and a guest house – and, of course, “wine gardens.” Today, life flourishes again within the old walls of the ruins. In 2004, a group of winemakers from Marienthal and vicinity bought the former state-owned property and restored it to a private wine estate.
The nuns of Marienthal Monastery held out through most of the Thirty Years’ War, until 1646, when Swedish troops ransacked it. In the same year, it was burned down by French troops and not rebuilt before 1699. The garden was enlarged and even adorned with a garden pavilion that has survived to this day. The final end came with French emperor Napoleon Bonaparte in 1802, when all church properties were secularized in the aftermath of his conquests in Germany. The monastery buildlings were sold and its church fell into ruin. At the time of its dissolution, the monastery had employed a cooper and journeymen as well as “four servants of viticulture” – so the ancient chronicles tell.
Wine was still made, although owners came and went. In 1910, one of them errected a huge manor. Shortly thereafter, it was purchased by the local railroad company to serve as their administrative headquarters. In 1925, the property was incorporated into the Prussian State Wine Domains. In 1952, part of the estate’s 19 hectares (47 acres) was converted into one of the state of Rheinland-Pfalz’s experimental stations to breed new grape varieties. In 2004, the property was acquired by a consortium – the Mayschoss-Altenahr and Dagernova cooperative wineries and private wine estates Brogsitter and Meyer-Näkel – that has infused the 12th-century surroundings with new life as a modern wine estate.