Kleinbottwar is a small village in the Baden-Württemberg wine region of Germany. It lies halfway between Ludwigsburg and Heilbronn on the Murr river and is an outlying district of the town Steinheim an der Murr.
The Summer of 2022 was sunny and hot. In the last week of August, I spent two days at my son’s house in Kleinbottwar on my way back to Rotterdam to catch the overnight ferry to Hull after a two-week’s holiday in Jura.
A Walk In The Vineyards
We had breakfast on the terrace that Sunday morning and went out to walk in the vineyards.
The three Grosse Lage vineyards are on the southwest- and south-facing hillside just in front of the house past a little farm with three llamas. The vineyards have extended daily exposure to the sun and are on low-yielding, stony Keuper soils. In the middle of the three, the five hectare Süssmund (“Sweetmouth”), planted almost exclusively to Riesling, is one of Württemburg’s most famous vineyards. Next door, the 4-ha Oberer Berg is best known for its Lemberger wines. Götzenberg is on the other side of Süssmund and is much larger at 20 hectares. The hillside curves away from Kleinbottwar to face south.
A well kept road with vine covered winegrowers’ shacks on the sides, twist up the hill. The vines were heavy with fruit which looked ripe and ready and were laden with sugar.
A Walk In The Woods
The forest with tall trees and wild flowers on the north face of the hill is home to deer and wild boar. A dirt track twists through it to a view point with wooden benches and a stone fire-pit at the top offering a fine panoramic view of the vineyards and Kleinbottwar below.
Hohen Beilstein Castle and Winery
We could see the Hohenbeilstein castle from Kleinbottwar vineyard. Beilstein is on the Württemberg wine route and developed during the Middle Ages adjacent to Hohenbeilstein Castle, which was built around 1080. The town was walled in the 14th century. We drove to Beilstein to have lunch at the castle restaurant which unfortunately was full. We decided not to visit the winery and instead drove to Bottwartaler Winzer winery in Grossbottwar.
Tasting At Bottwartaler Winzer
Every Sunday Bottwartaler Winzer – a wine cooperative formed in 1966, has an open bar in the courtyard in front of the winery selling their wines by the glass. We bought and tasted excellent Pinot Gris at the bar chatted with the cellar master Wolfgang Fahnle who was waiting take visitors on a cellar tour. “We also make gin” he said to my surprise. He invited me to taste it and opened the large winery shop. Inside, he poured large measures of gin in to two glasses and handed one to me. The slowly distilled dry gin is made in small batches and is quite aromatic (25 botanicals are used including German juniper, cinnamon bark, pepper, cardamom, coriander, violet root, Peruvian ginger, lavender, tonka beans and lemongrass, licorice root, angelica, lemon, orange, lime and grapefruit) and tasted excellent even without tonic. I bought a small bottle for 35 Euros.
Before we left, Wolfgang gave me his contact details and said “Call me when you come to Kleinbottwar next.”
Back home that evening, the barbecue was lit, chicken and sausages grilled, potatoes cooked, salads made and Riesling from Kloster Eberbach and Spätburgunder from Dautel were uncorked.
It was a splendid summer’s day in warm, sunny Kleinbottwar.
“I am very pleased that you enjoyed your visit with us. I had a lot of fun to guide you through our winery. I also wanted to inquire if you had received an email from my nephew Julian. He looks after our international customers and was very enthusiastic about your visit. Thank you very much and best regards,” – Wolfgang Fahnle, Grossbottwar, 5/9/22