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Three local vineyards that will make you rethink Brandenburg wine

Berlin and Brandenburg aren't known for their wine, but with a little innovation, three wineries are raising the bar for German vino.

Photo: IMAGO / Zoonar

Parts of northern Germany could soon see a heyday for winemaking.

Quality German wines typically come from the South. Rhineland-Palatinate, Franconia, Hessia and Mosel are regions praised for their white wines.

Meanwhile, Berlin and Brandenburg are generally overlooked as wine regions, even though viticulture, introduced around the 12th century, is by no means new to the area.

In fact, Brandenburg receives more hours of sunlight than the more famous wine region of Rhineland-Palatinate, having created optimal conditions for viticulture across the centuries.

After World War II, however, winemaking in the region took a hit, with production becoming impounded by the state, and in many areas in Berlin and Brandenburg coming to a complete halt.

Photo: IMAGO / image broker

It wasn’t until a few years before reunification that farmers were able to gain more autonomy, bringing wine production back to swathes of the area.

Now, with climate change blowing balmy breezes across the globe, parts of northern Germany could soon see a heyday for winemaking, able to grow more flavourful varieties, which typically only thrive in hot climates.

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But it’s not just global warming that’s playing to the advantage of local wineries; Brandenburg, with around 30 hectares of vineyards, is home to winemakers growing grapes in unusual conditions and yielding quality results.

We take a look at the state of wine production in and around Berlin as a new era of viticulture takes root.

Climate changes: Weinbau Dr. Lindicke

Photo: IMAGO / image broker

Perched on the Havel River just 10 minutes outside of Potsdam, the picturesque town of Werder appears to be just another place in the countryside. But on its outskirts, situated on the Wachtelberg – an elevated outcropping sitting opposite the river – is a rolling vineyard, home to one of Brandenburg’s highly acclaimed and established wines, produced by Weinbau Dr. Lindicke.

Lindicke’s success is not least thanks to the rising temperatures.

Brought back to life in 1985, vintner Manfred Lindicke took over the wine production on the 60-metre-high Wachtelberg in 1996 – and to say that he’s done so successfully would be an understatement. The company’s wines fall within the VDP category, a hallmark exclusive to the highest-quality vineyards in the country, of which around only 200 are registered.

It’s the northernmost vineyard with the VDP label, and the one closest to Berlin. Lindicke’s success is not least thanks to the rising temperatures, which mean that Lindicke is able to grow red varieties like syrah and cabernet franc, usually exclusive to hotter, southern countries.

In the summer months, you can feast on their offerings, such as their specialised sauvignon blanc and rosé – and you can do so directly on the Wachtelberg, in the wine maker’s charming Straußwirtschaft, a traditional terraced inn that looks out across the vineyards.

  • Weinbau Dr. Lindicke, Am Plessower Eck 2, Werder (Havel), details.

New ecosystems: 17morgen Naturwein

Photo: IMAGO / Cavan images

Climate change isn’t just a blessing. Who would’ve thought? Increased temperatures has made the production of more flavourful varieties possible, but it’s also given way to unstable ecosystems, threatened by weaker soils and new invasive fungi.

Their goal was to create wines that would be in tune with the ecosystem

Weingut 17morgen, located in the village of Dobbrikow, 50km south of Berlin, set out in 2017 to establish a winery with the environment at heart, eager to adapt to the new conditions.

Their goal was to create wines that would be in tune with the ecosystem by using fungi-resistant grapes and in turn doing without the use of pesticides or herbicides.

The beautiful countryside vineyard forms part of a larger estate, home to animal grazing and fruit trees, which all play their own individual part in the winemaking process. It’s one of a handful of German wineries specialising in organic wines, creating unique, potent cuvées and orange varieties, some of which are aged in the bottle in the nearby lake.

Wine enthusiasts can discover the results with on-site wine tasting, or as part of the winery’s hiking events.

  • 17morgen Naturwein Brandenburg, Nettgendorfer Str. 14, Nuthe-Urstromtal, details.

Making mountains: Weingut Wolkenberg

Photo: IMAGO / Rainer Weisflog

In addition to climate and political change, the former East German state has succumbed to a serious degree of industrial upheaval. Around the DDR era, a lot of land in Brandenburg was excavated and put to use for industrial and mining purposes.

One of the Bundesland’s newest and most-celebrated wineries is located in one of these old opencast mines. Weingut Wolkenberg, on the southern border of Brandenburg, is named after the village that was demolished in 1991 to make room for the Welzow Süd mine.

The vineyard was then established as part of a regeneration programme.

The vineyard was then established as part of a regeneration programme initiated by Vattenfall to help bring life back to the area. In doing so, it helped solve one of the biggest problems Brandenburg has when it comes to making wine: its comparative flatness.

By digging a giant hole, Vatenfall solved one of these problems in one scoop, creating perfectly sloping (albeit ruinous) hills befit for winemaking. Weingut Wolkenberg’s south-facing vines are home to multiple whites, pinot noir, rosés, and even the lesser-spotted red riesling.

Visiting the winery during the summer, you can sit in the former mine surrounded by opulent vines, while looking at the monstrous, earth-moving excavator in the background and enjoying wine tastings with the owners as well as local foods and bird-watching as nature takes its hold once more on the stripped-out landscape.

  • Weingut Wolkenberg, Dreifertstr. 9, Cottbus, details.

Dan Cole is the co-author of WeinWandern Deutschland, out now.