Exploring the Best Food and Wine Experiences in Germany's Rheingau Region
Accessible by ferry across the river from Rudesheim, Bingen is situated at the confluence of the Rhine and Nahe Rivers. This medieval village, now the southern gateway to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Upper Middle Rhine Valley, is perched high on a ridge surrounded by many architectural treasures like the Mouse Tower, a former toll station overlooking the Rhine, and the historic home of St. Hildegard of Bingen, a famous twelfth-century abbess and polymath of mythical proportions who advised emperors and bishops.
While strolling along Bingen's pedestrian riverfront walkway, you're sure to see a well preserved, over-500-year-old freight crane that also lights up at night. Right next door is the German steakhouse Zollamt, occupying a former customs office built in 1906. The menu here specializes in "shockheated" Kobe and other prime cut steaks sizzled in a uniquely designed grill/oven combo that sears meat at up to 1400 degrees Fahrenheit via an intense combination of convection and open fire; a tasty, dark outer crust with an extremely tender and juicy interior make it to your plate every time. Weather permitting, their spacious outdoor terrace overlooks Castle Ehrenfels, the Niederwald Monument, and Rüdesheim across the river.
Since vineyards span the hillsides across the Rhine as far as the eye can see, you may assume that winemaking isn't as prevalent in Bingen, but look to the backside of Elisenhöhe heights, particularly from St. Rochuskapelle Church and you'll see vines stretching to the horizon. Hemmes Winery is a hidden gem right in the village, making craft wines in a re-purposed school house. Award-winning winemaker Frank Hemmes and his family also pursue sustainable production using geothermal heat.
This small village is a destination due to Park Hotel Tillmanns, a luxurious family-run hotel in a stately 18th-century French country home that was completely renovated and refurbished between 1995 and 1997.
An extensive breakfast buffet is included in their spacious downstairs sun porch, which also has a casual self-service bar in the corner for some evening tippling. A private terrace outside beckons when the weather permits. Owner Benjamin Gillert parlays his 10-year culinary background along with his stints as sommelier and event designer into lovingly running the property. His wife Anna Schneider and the rest of his family are fully integrated into every aspect of running the hotel, making sure no detail goes unnoticed.
A quick cab ride from Park Hotel Tillmanns, Weinhaus Zum Krug, an inn with accompanying farm-to-table restaurant, features a menu built on straightforward dishes made from the fresh local bounty. Third-generation chef Josef Laufer’s motto — "the diversity of the simple is our demand and goal" — guides the operatrion. He keeps it all very personal, juggling roles as chef, host, and sommelier with his guests. Dishes like Wispertal trout and fried potato goat cheese dumplings or venison chops are rooted in traditional cookery, yet enhanced with new approaches toward presentation and flavoring.