Sunday, 6 June 2021

overnighter: fränkische weinorte

H and I took a drive in familiar territory through the vineyards of Franconia in the Main River valley between Kitzigen and Schweinfurt, taking a couple of ferries that crossed the winding Main as it coursed through the hills and came to the storied vineyard there where we had previously been treated to a wine-tasting tour, after a visit of the town of Volkach with an ensemble of medieval buildings in its walked centre. 

Next we marvelled at the Mainschleife—a closed bend technically but a way to describe a river form with sinuous curves, otherwise a Mäander, Meander, from the vantage point of the Vogelsberg, a small retreat and gastronomy at the top of a promontory. 

 

 

Fording the river with another ferry, we stopped next in the village of Escherndorf—another spot full of character and vintners plus a wedding chapel with a grotto on a hill overlooking the settlement below dedicated to Our Lady of Lourdes, built after a Franciscan nun from Volkach made a pilgrimage there and returned with a keepsake, with the support of the original community on the Franco-Spanish border in the Pyrenees. Instead of the usual Stations of the Cross, the path up to the chapel was lined with decorated wine barrels and there was a giant cast that could be loaned out as a tiny party room, complete with coolers for the wine. 


Next we left for our last stop on the Weininseln, the Wine Islands with the village Sommerach, not only known for the viticulture and area monopoly for the Cloister Schwarzach (previously, which we didn’t visit this time around due to a dramatic shift in the weather) but also for the unique character of the estuaries and their protected status as nature reserves. 

Staying at a pitch just outside of one of the more famous wine-producers, regionally known for its Silvaner, I needed to self-administer my first COVID Schnelltests, letting it rest on the floorboard until we were sure it was negative—something unexpected but that I was happy to do to keep us all happy campers. We explored Sommerach some more, which was in the process of reopening itself and everyone was wonderfully day-drunk—last time we visited, it was ill-timed in the middle of their wine fest, a very serious and well-attended undertaking. 

The central part of the Old Town, flanked with cafes and wine-sellers was the church of Saint Eucharius and the monumental fountain featuring the archangel Michael—not Saint George—slaying a dragon. Returning to the campgrounds, we explored the shoreline and encountered a gaggle of strange ducks.
While I had noticed the odd tall—or long duck before, seeing them act as a group, not waddling but marching double-quick time headlong, H and I were amused and a little confused—learning later that this particular breed of mostly flightless, mostly quackless ducks are called Laufente, Indian Runner Ducks (possibly from Jakarta—see also—but no one really knows their origin, bred to be walked to market), which while prolific egg-layers don’t possess the instinct to nest or rear their young and so have to be watched over by their caretakers.