Whenever someone thinks of sparkling wine, the Champagne region of France comes to mind. That’s a given.
But as it turns out – I strongly dislike champagne.
Needless to say that I was less than enthused by the idea of visiting a cellar. This is Germany, I thought, why would I choose to visit a cellar over a brewery? Nevertheless, I was under contract, and I didn’t have much say in it. I made my way to Kessler, mumbling against the tourist office, trying not to think about how ridiculous I was being.
And then, as I entered the cellar’s shop, I shut up. I stared in awe. I listened. And I fell in love.
Kessler Esslingen – A Bit of History
While one would think that a sparkling wine cellar in southern Germany wouldn’t have anything to do with the champagne region in France, facts say otherwise. Christian von Kessler actually moved to Reims in the early 1800s, and quickly learned the art of champagne-making by becoming a clerk in a local factory – which turned out to be none other than Veuve Cliquot. Go big or go home, as they say. After working there for a few years, he eventually got promoted to the executive board, and propelled Veuve Cliquot to the prestigious and internationally acclaimed brand it is today.
Kessler’s hopes of taking over the business were crushed when, in a surprising turn of events, he decided to leave Reims and move back to his hometown, Esslingen am Neckar, to create his own sparking wine. Talk about entrepreneurship!
Within the first ten years in business, Kessler had already sold half a million bottles, and was already exporting to the US, Russia and Britain, as well as supplying the Royal Court of Württemberg. He then bought a cellar in the Speyrer Pfleghof, one of the many medieval houses in the heart of the village, which is still where the wines are produced today.
Nowadays, Kessler is the official supplier of the Government of Germany, and still produce their sparkling wine with the same traditions as the Veuve Cliquot house, and presumably, the same passion.
Kessler Esslingen – In Photos
As it turns out, a wine cellar as ancient as Kessler is incredibly photogenic. And you remember by inability to make efficient decisions when it comes to photography – especially in such a charming, historical place that is jut begging to be photographed, from the tasting room upstairs to the vaulted cellar to the stocking rooms. Enjoy!
To be completely honest, I didn’t expect much from my visit.
I am not usually one for guided tours and I thought I’d had my share of cellars and wine, after living in France for so long. But I couldn’t have been more wrong. The visit was indisputably of my favorite experiences in all of my time in Europe, and no, I do not say this lightly.
The employees are truly passionate about their product, and want to pass on this passion to every customer and taster. And I have to say, mission accomplished. I even took a liking to champagne after learning about the different production stages, and tasting authentic, high-quality products.
Moreover, the cellars are ancient, magnificent, and utterly captivating. The many different flavors make the tasting session all the more delightful. The rosé was my favorite! And, of course, Esslingen is a gorgeous medieval village that just couldn’t get more picturesque.
For all these reasons, I will forever cherish the memories I have of the Kessler cellar.
Kessler Esslingen – Good To Know:
- Visit last around 1.5 hours and will take you through every production stage of the sparkling wine.
- Every visit includes a tasting session of 3 different sparkling wines.
- Individual visits cost €11 per peron.
- Tours are scheduled on every Saturday at 1:30PM and once a month on weekdays. More info on the website (which is only in German, but Google Translate does a fine job in translating everything to English).