Last updated: July 29, 2021, with new wineries.
Half an hour drive from the downtown core we found ourselves surrounded by luscious vineyards and pulled over on the side of the road to take in the scene: vines everywhere you look, leaves sparkling under the bright blue sky, grapes ripening in the sun.
Luxembourg wine country lives along the Moselle River, which serves as a wine route and stretches from north-eastern France through Luxembourg to western Germany. A short walk or drive over the bridge from any town along the river bank and you enter Germany.
Grape varieties grown: Riesling, Pinot noir, Pinot blanc, Pinot gris, Gewürztraminer, Auxerrois, Rivaner, Elbling, and Chardonnay.
Wine culture differs from country to country and the North American setup I’m used to isn’t always the type of hospitality everywhere, in Portugal for example, without an appointment you can’t even see the vineyard but that’s a whole other story. In Luxembourg, especially now with limited capacity and new health regulations, most places require a tasting reservation, these tastings no longer include site visits (of course), and the tasting often takes place in the wine bar.
Must-try wine: Luxembourgish champagne is called Crémant and there are many delicious options.
While planning this day trip I looked at nearly every winery on the Luxembourg side of the river and out of those which were open to visitors many simply advised you to visit their wine bar, most of which open after 3 pm. In many instances, as expected, to make a tasting reservation you either need to call or email and my last-minute planning didn’t quite allow for that so we made reservations for those that allowed online booking.
When visiting this year, 2021, we were able to make reservations which allowed us to visit cellars and have a more immersive tasting experience, much like in the pre-pandemic times.
Caves Bernard-Massard: this is Luxembourg’s main and oldest producer of sparkling wine. Our visiting appointment was mid-day and the other people did not show up so lucky for us we had a private tour of the cellar followed by a tasting on their deck overlooking the river [image above]. We got to try 3 different sparklings including their limited addition 100-year Anniversary Cuvée 1921 – Crémant de Luxembourg – really nice and crisp flavours. Having done Champagne tours in the past my sister and I are quite familiar with how sparkling wine is made but with this visit, we learned a few new things – for example, Luxembourgish winemakers often use concrete tanks to store large batches of wine, I’m talking two-floor room-size tank that you can only get into through a tiny oval whole above the ground (to wash the tank between storages).
Caves St Martin: Another dark and wet cellar tour, it was pretty awesome, they too have concrete tanks but only use them to move massive batches of wine around. St. Martin produce a pretty large selection of wines include the rarity that is white Pinot Noir! We had 3 flights of 3 wines and had an ingenious thought that we don’t need to have any of them the same so we tried 9! Took a batch of Pinot Noirs (red) home because it is delicious.
The cellars were founded back in 1919 and the rooms are dug into rock where they extend for a near kilometer!
Caves Henri Ruppert: the winery and restaurant are located on high ground, overlooking the valley. The building is very unique and reminiscent of those “look at me” LA type of private homes but this one is classy, modern, and makes sense. We didn’t do a tour here but we did try a wide range of wines over dinner, sitting by the pool watching the sun set on the side of Germany.
Their focus is harvesting the best possible grapes, harvesting exclusively manually over a short period of time. The wines are then aged in wood or stainless steel barrels. The restaurant selection is quite tight but offers a range of local tasting snacks, seafood bites, and a handful of other goodies.
Domaines Vinsmoselle in Wellenstein: large wine production facility with a spacious tasting room located on the outskirts of Wellenstein, a lovely town surrounded by vineyards. We chose the “Wine Lover Tasting” which included 7, mostly white varietals, from premier and grand cru regions. This was a proper sit-down tasting and we had a great time learning and chit-chatting with our lovely host [collection of images above].
Poll-Fabaire in Wormeldange: Here for the tasting, we were ushered into the wine bar, handed a 3-page brochure, and left to our own devices to learn about the wines 2 bottles of crémant at a time. There was also cheesecake, so that helped. The wine bar seemed like a popular spot for dates and hangouts and most people were drinking Crémant Rosé Brut.
Domaine Viticole Schumacher-Lethal: right next door to Vinsmoselle cupped by a stunning vineyard you can see from the road, people strolling through it taking pictures. The wine bar has a lovely view of the river and a great wine selection.
Bonus: Ramborn Cider Haff: The one and only cidery in Luxembourg. Located in the heart of Rouspert-Mompech the producers take full advantage of the community harvest. In fact, the story goes is the neighborhood had way more apples they could consume so they opened a cidery to use up all of those apples and pairs. It is a very community-focused, sustainable production, they even use those tiny sour apples that no one wants to eat.
Here you can get a guided tour, see cellars, go for a long and lovely hike around the town and through the orchards, or simply sit down under the shade of a patio umbrella for a tasting of their entire lineup. We did the latter, and it was great!
Note: Make lunch plans ahead of time, most places stop serving food between lunch and dinner so you might be limited to eating baked goods.
To end the day with a great sunset view drive up the hill to Koeppchen, one of the most famous vineyards in the region wrapping around a small chapel. From up here, through the isles of grape bushes, you get a nearly 360-degree view of the town and the Moselle River. The setting sun on a good day makes this a fairly tear-inducing experience, not kidding, I almost cried.