Machern Bernkastel-Wehlen, Rheinland-Pfalz:
Visited on: Sunday 29th April 2018
The first record of a religious building on the site was in 1084 when a Benedictine monastery was founded here. However it only lasted until the early 12th Century, not very long at all. It is believed that by the end of that Century it was completely empty.
About 1230 another monastery was established here, this time by the Cistercian order. The sisters began to create new buildings in 1240 and on 12th April 1262 the abbey church was consecrated and dedicated to St. Maria.
In 1395 the nuns were permitted by the Archbishop of Trier to serve wine. This was the catalyst for large scale wine production in the area of Wehlen, Zeltlingen and Rachtig. The vineyards were donated by local landowners and made the abbey very wealthy. There were six sisters at the abbey in 1569 but six died in the Plague in 1574.
Because of the low numbers the Archbishop tried to close it. However there was opposition from the local nobility and it was spared.
Maria von Metternich became the Abbess in 1574 and revived its fortunes. She died in 1603 and her successor Odilia von Ahr continued this work. The next Abbess, Maria Ursula von Metternich who took over in 1680 began a rebuilding that commenced in 1688. This was completed in 1700 in the Baroque style.
The beginning of the 18th Century began well for the monastery but later a slow decline crept in later and by 1793 there were only six sisters and the monastic order was not being adhered to.
Then the French revolutionary forces occupied the area. On 22nd July 1802 the French government dissolved the monastery. It was virtually finished anyway, having just four nuns. It was auctioned on 24th June 1803 for 306,000 Francs for farming purposes.
The eastern wing was demolished by the new owner in 1806 to prevent French soldiers being billeted in it. The church windows were bricked up and it was used as a barn.
It remained basically as a farmyard until it was acquired in 1969 by Franz Schneider of Zell-Mer. He started restoring the old buildings in 1970 and a lot of money was spent. Regrettably some parts were destroyed and some new buildings were erected.
In 2000 the Trier Citizens' Association and the Günther Reh Foundation acquired the property and continued the renovations until 2004. Finally, in that year the former monastery was opened to the public.
The buildings now house a restaurant, a brewery and bar, a wine merchant, distillery and a museum. There are many rooms that can be rented for events and especially weddings. The Cornelius Chapel is licensed for marriages.
It was yet another beautiful day when myself and Patrick arrived by taxi from Bernkastel-Kues after visiting the Bahnhof-Cues brew-pub. I don’t normally use taxis but in this case we had to visit two breweries in just over three hours starting at Wittach station. The first leg of our triangular journey was by bus but the last two were by taxi because of time restraints.
From the outside it looked very impressive with a very large biergarten looking down to the river and over to Zeltingen-Rachtig, the town on the opposite bank.
It was very hot so we decided to go inside. We turned right into a very strange room. This was the main bar and restaurant although there is another dining room somewhere. The bar counter was in the centre and unlike most German bars it was possible to sit on stools at it, and we did.
Why strange? Well look at the photographs. It has the type of décor I wouldn’t associate with a former religious building of Baroque style. The bar top was traditional dark varnished wood yet underneath it there were bright green lights, rather disconcerting! Dangling from the very high ceiling the illumination was housed in huge yellow shades giving an almost nightclub effect, very odd.
There was a raised portion at one end of the room which contained more tables and seating. Looking down from there I could see that there was a huge section of a brewing vessel hanging over the bar area.
On either side of the room there were had alcoves made of wood. I came to realise that the furniture was conventional yet it was the lighting that was weird. I could see no sign of the brewing equipment
As far as beer is concerned it was the usual trinity of Hell (5.2%), light lager; Dunkel (5.2%), dark larger and Weizen (5.3%), a wheat beer.
I had the Hell and the Dunkel and the latter was easily the best, the Hell was rather ordinary. Patrick professed that the Weizen was quite acceptable.
There are four seasonal beers: Bock (6.4%) from January to May; Hefeweizen Dunkel (5.0%), a dark wheat beer from June to October; Volksfest-bier (5.4%) is in the Märzen style and in November and December there’s Weinachts-festbier (5.7%), a Christmas beer.
A beautiful place to drink beer if you sit outside, although I suppose you could eventually get used to the interior after time.
Brauhaus Kloster-Machern, An der Zeltinger Brücke 1, 54470 Bernkastel-Wehlen. Tel 06532 954994
Hours: Monday-Sunday: 11.00-23.00. Last food orders: 20.45
The nearest railway station to the pub is Wittlich Hbf (formerly Wengerohr) on the Moselle Valley line.
This runs between Trier and Koblenz. From this station there is the 300 bus route.
It runs every two hours Monday to Sunday, finishing mid-evening. It continues to Benkastel-Kues.
See the VRT web site for more details of these services.