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The Open-Air Museum of Bad Sobernheim: The living history of viticulture
This is a panorama of viticulture, stretching from Medieval times up to today – and there's no better place to experience it all than the open-air museum of Bad Sobernheim on the Nahe river. Founded in 1973 in the idyllic valley of the nightingale, the museum today stretches out over 35 hectares and answers to 60 000 visitors per year: it is the biggest open-air museum in the state of Rhenania-Palatina.
Almost 40 buildings, collected from all parts of the state, revive the way people in Rhenania-Palatinate once worked, lived and dwelled. Viticulture was, of course, a natural part of live in an area which still today produces the highest quantities of wines in Germany. Thus, viticulture and its historical culture are an important theme in the museum – presented as living history.
Several old wine grower's houses, stemming from communities like Zell-Merl or Ürzig on the Mosel or from nearby Weinsheim on the Nahe river, bring to live for visitors the life of wine growers from different epochs – including their wine cellars and methods of wine making. Two wine press buildings from Bruttig and Briedern on the Mosel even have survived from late Middle Ages and display a variety of wine presses, among them an old tree press from 1726, several wooden (Spindelkeltern) from the 19th century and wine presses with iron spindles from the 20th century – exciting examples for the development of pressing techniques.
The museum's vineyard, measuring 2200 square meters, is the place where the work in the vineyard is demonstrated: Built in 1983 on a steep slope, the vineyard displays several different types of grapevine bonding techniques (Reberziehungsarten) like posting, wire frame and one arch or two arch techniques (Pfahlerziehung, Drahtrahmenerziehung in Bockschnitt sowie Ein- und Mehrbogenanschnitt). Also, a historical vineyard cottage offers a place to linger and to enjoy the scenery. The vineyard is cultivated by the Wine Cooperative Rheingrafenberg from nearby Meddersheim and stocked with the grape varieties Gewürztraminer, Riesling, Portugieser, Ruländer, Müller-Thurgau und Silvaner, all of them traditional to the area.
The wines from the vineyard can be bought in the museum's shop – and they can be tasted at the restaurant with its historic bowling track. A special event takes place every year in the middle of May when a day of action evolves around the themes of wine and wine making. Presentations show how vineyards were farmed in former times, how wine barrels were chipped from the cellars or how champagne was (degorgieren). In addition, a House of Viticulture is built at the moment on the museum's compounds which is to be opened at the end of 2011 and which will contain a Vinotheque as well as a modern information center for the history, the presence and the future of viticulture.