“Get your wine under the sign of the vine”
The tradition of the “Strausswirtschaft” dates back to 794, when Charlemagne (King of the Franks, Holy Roman Emperor) issued a Capitulare de Villis , decreeing that vineyards were allowed – with a couple of restrictions – to sell their own wine.
Probably one of the first examples of disintermediation and serious market manipulation, but the word is that the vintage was looking pretty good that year and they needed to empty the barrels for the new harvest.
All the vintner had to do was to hang a wreath of vine leaves – the “Strauss” – above his gate, declaring that he’s open for business.
And the tradition has continued since.
They’re only allowed to serve their own wines, they can only be open for 16 weeks a year and – since 1771 (when I assume they started encroaching on someone else’s territory) – can only serve simple (but mostly hearty) snacks.
Most of the vineyards around here split their season into spring and autumn.
Which is excellent.
You get last year’s vintage shortly after it’s been bottled in spring and the new wine (or Federweissser) – pretty much straight out of the barrel.
(It’s basically grape juice in an early stage of fermentation, unfiltered and creeps up on you, if you don’t watch out.)
And of course the serving wenches are a sight to behold.
Can be, anyway.
This is Isabelle Gres, Klaus Gres’ wife, from their eponymous vineyard in Appenheim