What do exceptional places and wines have in common? A good location. So it’s a good thing that the Swiss architect Max Dudler has renovated and expanded a winery directly in a “great location”. To test the successful relationship between wine and architecture, we set off for Kanzem on the Saar in the Rhineland-Palatinate.
Even the Romans were aware of the climatic peculiarities of the region and planted the first vines around 2000 years ago. Today, the border triangle of Germany, France and Luxembourg is an El Dorado for wine connoisseurs and gourmets. Along its final kilometres, the Saar winds its way in wide loops through the slate soil, which is so important for wine, before it flows into the Moselle near Konz. The steep slopes along the river, dotted with lines of vines, dominate the landscape. Not far away is Trier, Germany’s oldest city, which is home to the famous Porta Nigra and seven other UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
The rather small wine-growing region of the Saar is part of the famous Moselle region but does not need to hide behind its big sister in terms of wine and architecture. Vines of the internationally acclaimed Riesling variety grow on the south-facing Saar slopes. This is the case, for example, on the Kanzemer Altenberg, a steep slope with a 55% incline that can only be cultivated through painstaking manual labour. At the foot of this “great location”, which is much sought-after by wine connoisseurs, is the Cantzheim Winery Estate, a late Baroque manor house, part of a former monastery, which was renovated by the Swiss architect Max Dudler in a manner befitting a heritage listed building and extended with a coach house and orangery. And even at first glance it becomes clear: This is where tradition meets modernity, sandstone façade meets stamped concrete – and we meet the lady of the house, Anna Reimann, who lives here with her husband Stephan and their two children. Together with Anna, “the gardener,” we sit down in front of the orangery, accompanied by the rushing sound of the Saar, which flows directly past the estate in the form of a rather wild oxbow lake.
How did it come about that you became a winemaker?
My father discovered this house and saved it from falling into disrepair. His friendship with Max Dudler was a great stroke of luck. I supervised the renovation and very quickly decided that I wanted to live here with my family. I was already fascinated by the subject of wine during my horticulture studies and subsequently trained as an oenologist. Suddenly here was an opportunity for me to start my own winery. But I didn’t have the vineyards. During my second parental leave, I walked through the village and knocked on the doors of old winegrowers. Gradually, we got two hectares of vineyards together and were able to start our big dream of having our own winery.
And is that why we can now drink “Die Gärtnerin” [The Gardener, female]?
Yes, that is my favourite wine. A delicate Riesling with lots of fruit and a dry finish. A typical Saar wine, cheerful, quaffable, with a juicy structure and a tart finish. And of course there is also “Der Gärtner”[The Gardener, male], the dry variety. My husband and I named these two wines in reference to our professional roots, but the names also show our love for nature, gardening and viticulture.
Guests can also stay overnight and celebrate at the winery. What events take place here?
We organise numerous literary and musical events, as well as events around wine culture. We are part of the Saar Riesling Summer, during which visitors can get to know the different wineries in the region. The Moselle Music and Art Festivals also hold events here. In addition, we also offer private and business guests a variety of opportunities to use our winery. Our Orangery, the vaulted cellar and the West Salon are suitable for family celebrations, conferences or team events. We also offer civil weddings as we are an official branch of the Konz registry office.
And which event suits you as the “gardener” best?
All of them! We are open to new ideas but concentrate on smaller groups. We don’t set up big party tents, with us the location should also play a role. For example, we have regular cooking events here with up-and-coming chefs at different locations on our estate. This allows guests to experience and enjoy not only the food and wine, but also the architecture.
And why should visit the Saar?
The landscape is incredibly beautiful and varied. You can cycle, hike or even canoe along the Saar. The steep slopes are not as high as on the Moselle, which opens up the landscape and creates more space. But it is not only the landscape and the wine that make the region so special. Cultures mix here. It is only a few minutes to Lorraine or Luxembourg and the French savoir-vivre is part of the culture of life here.
The Cantzheim Winery was founded in 2016 by Anna and Stephan Reimann. The two horticultural engineers met while studying at Weihenstephan. Stephan Reimann subsequently completed an apprenticeship as a master winemaker, Anna Reimann a postgraduate degree in oenology. Chance brought them to the Saar in Kanzem and they decided to live their dream: to make exceptional wines in what they consider the world’s best soil for Riesling.
With its glass Orangery, a historic vaulted cellar, the West Salon with a fireplace and a wine cellar in the manor house, the Cantzheim Winery offers a wide range of spaces that can be rented for private parties, product presentations, team and cooking events and workshops. Catering and wine tastings can also be arranged. Five rooms are available for overnight stays in the manor house and the coach house.
Text/Interview: Anke Frey, September 2023
Photographers: Leif Carlsson, Christopher Arnoldi, Chris Marmann, Linda Blatzek, Susanne Schug, Stefan Müller