Everything You Never Knew You Wanted to Know About Berlin
Schönedel. Rehfall, Rüßling and Rot-Welsch. Or Schillernder Traminer, if you wish something different. What sounds like names of Berliner Kneipen (a Kneipe is what Germans call their local pub or a bar), could very well be exactly that: these are names of old Berlin wine sorts produced in the city and once sold as far as Sweden, Bohemia, Poland or Russia.
Berlin is not Burgundy, nor even the Rheinland, but it certainly knows how to make wine. Indeed it has considerable experience in the field: the first vineyards in Berlin date to the twelfth century when the Knights Templar returning from the Holy Land settled in what is now the locality of Tempelhof. The edges of the northern and southern plateaus (the Teltow Plateau in the south and the Barnim Plateau in the north) along the river valley in which the city eventually expanded provided perfect sandy soil and enough sunlight for grapevines to thrive. And so, while the southern edge of the Teltow Plateau – with today’s Kreuzberg, Schöneberg and Neukölln – was converted into vineyards and gardens owned by the Templars (followed by the Knights of St. John), the northern Barnim plateau became a wine-yielding heaven for monks who worked with the blessing of Albrecht The Bear, the first Margrave of Brandenburg.
By the sixteenth century, the halcyon days of wine-production in Berlin, the city had nearly a hundred vineyards. Traces of that merry time survive in several street names: Weinmeisterstraße, Weinbergsweg or Weinstraße. For over two hundred years today’s Kreuzbergstraße in Kreuzberg used to be called Weinmeisterweg – before in 1862 the name which honoured the wine-makers from the nearby Weinberg (Wine Hill), or Runder Berg (Round Hill) as it was also known at the time, was updated to do the same for to the new local “tourist spot”, the National Memorial to Wars of Independence (Napoleonic Wars) designed by Schinkel and installed on top of the said elevation.
By that time, no vineyard existed there any more: serious wine production came to an end in the winter of 1739 followed by equally lethal freeze of 1740/41 when a disastrous frost killed most of Berlin grapevines; on the Weinberg (next to today’s restaurant ‘Nola’s am Weinberg’ in Mitte) a handful survived until 1912.
Today, the city has ten vineyards, all established anew since the 1960s. The best-known of these, Kreuzberg’s Viktoriapark vineyard opened in 1968 and yields around 200 bottles of red ‘Kreuz-Neroberger’ per year; it is located on the very spot where the Knights Templar set up their first vineyards south of Berlin-Cölln hundreds of years earlier.
Berlin’s largest vineyard can be found along Koppelweg in Neukölln, and other wine-production sites are located in Pankow (in Volkspark Prenzlauer Berg and at the Wasserturm), in Stadion Wilmersdorf in Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf, and in Volkspark Humboldthain in Mitte (this is the only Berlin vineyard that produces sparkling wine or Sekt).
Teufelsberg Weingarten, which existed for only a few years in the 1970s, was located on the side of the Teufelsberg, Berlin’s largest post-Second World War rubble hill. It produced wine marketed under a rather catchy name: Teufelströpchen (Devil’s Little Drop).
Here a handy info-graphic showing the locations of the ten Berlin vineyards today. You can (corona-permitting) book a visit to most of them. In which case: Prost!
This and many other fascinating Berlin stories can be found in “Notmsparker’s