Even Goethe loved Franconian wines: In the early 19th century, the famous poet was quoted for saying: “Send me some more wine from Würzburg, because I can taste no other wine, I am morose when I run out of my usual favourite potion”.
There are three large vineyards in Würzburg, and Juliusspital is the largest of them. Built by Prince-Bishop Julius Echter outside the city gates, the Juliusspital Foundation has been serving and supporting needy citizens, the sick, the elderly and orphans since 1576. To provide the foundation with a good financial basis, Julius Echter transferred fields, vineyards and forests to the foundation, making it one of the largest foundations in Germany to this day.
Wine for a Good Cause
The centrepiece of Juliusspital is a hospital with over 350 beds. The Juliusspital institution also includes a retirement home, the Juliusspital vineyard and the Vogelsburg monastery with its vineyards in Volkach on the River Main. The proceeds from the vineyard finance the hospital and palliative ward.
With 177 hectares, Juliusspital vineyard is the second largest vineyard in Germany. It is one of the 200 “Prädikats- und Qualitätswein” vineyards (association of German quality and Prädikat Wine Estates, VDP), which stand for ecological cultivation and clearly defined quality standards. By at least 1950, Juliusspital had achieved world fame with its wines: a 1950 Riesling selection from the Iphofen Julius-Echter-Berg vineyard was served on the occasion of Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation on 2 June 1953.
A Visit to Juliusspital
When you enter Juliusspital through the large wooden gate on Juliuspromenade, you will find yourself in the palace’s huge inner courtyard. Continuing straight on towards the garden, you will pass the foundation deed, which depicts Juliusspital’s meaning and purpose. The stairs to the garden and to the right lead to the tithe barn, which is used today as an event space. Behind it, you will find the wine shop and the entrance to the wine cellar.
You may not enter the wine cellar on your own account. There are, however, public guided tours every weekend from the beginning of March to the beginning of December. The pleasure takes about 1.5 hours, during which time you can taste three of the vineyard’s 60 or so wines. The old wine barrels in the underground wine cellar, which is 250 metres long and stores around 220 barrels at ideal temperatures, are particularly special. Today, it has only a museum character and is no longer used in wine production.
Pleasure and Encumbrance in the Wine Cellar
Where electric light is used in the cellar today, candles used to burn – as a light source and life saver at the same time. Because when the grapes ferment, carbon dioxide is produced. Over time, this gas displaces the oxygen in the air, which can lead to suffocation. For this reason, the workers put candles in the wine cellar: if the oxygen content sank too far, the candles went out – and the cellar master knew that it was time to leave the cellar as quickly as possible.
By the way, if you prefer to only taste the fine wines and do not wish to take a guided tour of the cellar, there is plenty of opportunity to do so in the annexed wine tavern. The wine tavern at Juliusspital is open daily from 11am until midnight. Please follow this link for more information www.weinstuben-juliusspital.de.
Guided Tours in the Wine Cellar
Fridays 5pm and 6pm, Saturdays 4pm and 5pm, from early March until early December.
The guided tour costs EUR 13 per person (as of 2018). The meeting place is at the foundation deed. No advance booking required.