Hoflößnitz: The Saxon Club and the Elector's Wine FeastsThis can truly be called the cradle of Saxon viticulture: Here, on the estate Hoflößnitz, the Saxon electors partied during the wine harvest, here, the Saxon Club was invented - and here, a history of 600 years of viticultural tradition is at home.
Already around the year 1271, viticulture is accounted for in the Lößnitz region. On May 8, 1401, Margrave William the One-Eyed of Saxony bought the wine press building as well as the land around it, paying an amount of 1660 Meißen groats. From then on, the house of Wettin controlled the thitherto scattered vineyards of the region for the following five centuries – up to the year 1889. The Estate, however, became the center of viticulture for the Saxon princes and electors and the home of courtly feasts.
The Estate's name, Hoflößnitz, was first noted in a historical document under the date of January 14, 1622. In 1650, Elector Johann Georg I. had the small castle, the Lusthaus, built right next to the wine press building. His son Johann Georg II. used to celebrate the wine harvest feast here every year. His court painter, Albert Eckhout from the Netherlands, adorned the banquet hall with a huge ceiling fresco, a masterpiece of art that features 80 Brasilian birds. The hall's wooden walls are also decorated lavishly with panel paintings.
In the 17th century, life on the estate evolved around the production of wine. To what extend, the little Book of Viticulture demonstrates which was written by the Electoral vineyard custodian and building recorder Johann Paul Knohll in 1667 on the Hoflößnitz estate. The book contained a commentary on the Electoral Saxon Order of Vineyards, the Kurfürstlich Sächsische Weingebürgsordnung, from April 23, 1588. Knohll's booklet summarized the 24 established rules of work in the vineyards at that time, adding his own experiences. Up to the 19th century, it remained the standard book of viticulture for wine makers in Saxony. But wine was not only researcged here: Elector August the Strong (1677–1733) invited his chase companies to the Hoflößnitz, organizing dancing feasts at which wine was served liberally – legends tell of lavish vintage festivals. In August's time, also the vintage mansion was built whose cellar held a tasting room for the prince, called the Kellerstube.
In 1843, the Hoflößnitz became an Estate of the State and stayed thus until the downfall of viticulture in the Lößnitz region in 1889, caused mainly by the phylloxera. The tradition of viticulture was revived in 1911 when an institute for the grafting of the grapes was installed in the Hoflößnitz estate. In 1916, agricultural councilor Carl Pfeiffer became the institute's director – the father of the reactivation viticulture in Saxony. From 1913 on, he stocked the Lößnitz region with the new grafted vine, becoming the institute's director in 1916. The grafting institute was turned into an Institute for Viticultural Development and Teaching in 1927. In Pfeiffer's time, a special invention was made: To make wines from the valley of the Elbe more attractive, the Saxon Club was invented in 1931 on the Hoflößnitz estate – a green bottle in the form of a club.
The long tradition of wine making and viticulture is carried on nowadays by the Foundation Museum Estate Hoflößnitz which was founded in 1998 along with the Foundation Wine Estate and Pint Bar Hoflößnitz GmbH. The wine estate nowadays holds about eight hectares of vineyards which are cultivated according to the standards of ecological wine making (kontrolliert ökologischen Weinbaus). The former Lustschloss is now a museum for viticulture in the Elbe valley and for the former Electoral wine estate.