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The Ruins of the Monastery of Disibodenberg: Where the oldest grapevines grow
This hill has become famous for the prophetress Hildegard von Bingen, but the Disibodenberg in Odernheim on the Nahe river also has an ages old history of viticulture. Traces on the southern slope point to Roman grapevines that once grew on the Disibodenberg.
What we distinctively know is that the monastery's vinyards were stocked with grapevines from the 11th century on without pause. The wine estate and the ruins of the cloister are in possession of the family von Racknitz since 1753 who runs the wine estate below the old ruins up to the present day.
In 2008, an incredible discovery was made on the hill: Five grapevines of the variety of White Orleans were discovered on the Disibodenberg – a variety which was thought to have been extinct for quite a while. Research showed them to be probably the oldest grapevines in all of Germany. The variety of Orleans was well spread throughout Germany up to the 19th century. It grew especially frequently on the slopes of Rüdesheim in the Rheingau region where the late ripening grapes with their high acidity were in high estimation.
Those five grapevines of White Orleans, grown feral over the centuries, survived on the Disibodenberg on the very edge of a wall. According to sources from the Wine Estate von Racknitz, the grapevines must have originated from between 1108 and the time when the monastery was abandoned which was in 1559.
The monastery on the junction of the rivers Nahe and Glan was founded by an Irish itinerant monk named Disibod who, at first, built only a chapel and a hermitage. On the same spot, reclaimed by nature by then, archbishop Willigis from Mainz founded a monastery which was turned into a Benedictine monastery by one of this successors, archbishop Ruthard, in 1108. In 1112, a young girl named Hildegard joined the monastery to become a nun – she was to stay for 40 years and to become world famous as Hildegard of Bingen because of her writings on ethics, the world, mankind and her visions. Hildegard was a healer as well, and as such attributed a large number of positive effects to nothing other than wine, writing: "A wine from the grape, if it is pure, cleans the drinker's blood to be good and healthy."
The monastery was closed after Reformation and declined into the romantic ruined spot which it is today. Since 1998, the monastery's compound is owned by a foundation. The special atmosphere of Disibodenberg with its old monastery walls and its ages old vineyards still draws fascinated visitors to the hill. You can also enjoy the scenery having a picknick organized by the Wine Estate von Racknitz – including, of course, a Riesling from the site of Disibodenberg. A small museum at the bottom of the hill, right next to the entrance to the park, offers information on the monastery. Hildegard of Bingen, however, was one of the first to mention "the Hun's wine" – referring to the variety of Heunisch which is also called Yellow Orleans.
Ruin: any time via revolving entrance door with ticket machine
Fees: 3,- Euro per person
Groups up from 10 Persons: each 2,50 Euro
Open Guided Tours in Summer: each 2nd and 4th Sunday of the month at 2:00 p.m.
Group Tours on written notice in advance
Museum: April 1st to October 31st:
Tuesday to Friday: 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.,
Saturday and Sunday: 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Closed on Mondays
In Winter: guided tours on appointment