Made in Rhineland-Palatinate – Producers with a heart


In Rhineland‑Palatinate, there are lots of little family-run businesses focusing on traditional crafts, regional produce and foodie treats. We are putting the spotlight on producers on the Moselle and the Nahe, in the Westerwald and the Hunsrück.

In the mid-19th century, there was a distillery virtually everywhere you looked in the Westerwald, mainly operated as sidelines by farmers. This was how it all began for the Birkenhof Brennerei in Nistertal, now run by Peter and Steffi Klöckner, the seventh generation, and famous far beyond the Westerwald. Since 1999, Birkenhof has been producing not only grain spirit, but also fruit and vegetable schnapps made from apples and pears, and also carrots and beetroot. As well as making a beer-based spirit, the Klöckners came up with the idea of trying a whisky. Fading Hill Whiskey from the Westerwald is now just as well established as a traditional regional product alongside the legendary Westerwald Kümmel and Basaltfeuer. A gin aged in wooden barrels is combined with distilled botanicals to produce an unmistakable Westerwald gin.

The Birkenhof Distillery in Nistertal, Westerwald

Stefanie and Peter Klöckner with the Birkenhof Brennerei team, Westerwald

With more than 20,000 visitors a year, the distillery visitor centre is one of the most popular destinations in Rhineland‑Palatinate. There are also tasting seminars, guided tours and even the option of making your own gin.

The slate soils of Rhineland‑Palatinate not only produce excellent wines, they are also perfect for growing rapeseed and provide really special nutrients for the plants. And you can taste that in the oil made from the rapeseed. This is why Burkhard Kemp and Alexander Seeger named the product of their oil mill in Gödenroth near Kastellaun in the Hunsrück ‘Hochland Schieferrapsöl’, or upland slate rapeseed oil. They make the rapeseed oil at their mill using traditional cold-pressing methods. The rapeseed is gently processed in an extruder press to retain as many vitamins and unsaturated fatty acids as possible. The oils are refined with natural flavourings including garlic, butter, basil and lavender.

The oil mill forms part of the SooNahe regional brand, an association of producers in the Hunsrück and Nahe regions offering excellent-quality regional foods. Guided tours of the mill are available by prior appointment.

Slate rapeseed oil from the Kastellaun oil mill, Hunsrück

Premium slate rapeseed oil from the Kastellaun oil mill, Hunsrück

Gourmet mustard from the traditional mustard mill in Cochem, Moselle valley

Gourmet mustard from the traditional mustard mill in Cochem, Moselle valley

There is a 500-kilogram millstone turning at the Mustard Museum in Cochem. The 18th-century mustard mill produces the finest gourmet mustard. Recipes from the 15th and 19th centuries form the basis for the spicy product, which is sold in little stone jars. The Essigmanufaktur in Winningen uses fresh and well-ripened fruit, vegetables and herbs from local producers and their own fields to make vinegar. The spicy vinegar is matured in barrels once used to mature white wine, red wine or dessert wine until it has achieved the requisite balance of fruitiness and acidity.

For those with a sweet tooth, there is the Marmeladen- und Genussmanufaktur making jam and other sweet treats in Ellenz-Poltersdorf. The red vineyard peach is a particular favourite of Marietta and Günter Probst. They use it to make a jam based on a traditional recipe, and also liqueurs and even a mustard that is an interesting combination of spiciness with the sweetness of the fruit for which the holiday region of the Moselle is so famous.

Jeannette Marquis of ‘Marquis – Feines zum Leben’

Jeannette Marquis of ‘Marquis – Feines zum Leben’

Jeannette Marquis has made a name for herself for her jam creations based on the famous Nahe Riesling. Her little ‘Marquis – Feines zum Leben’ factory in Bad Kreuznach on the Nahe produces 37 delicious varieties of jam, chutney and speciality mustard.

Clever fruit spreads such as ‘apricot, lemon and myrtle’ or ‘purple-leaf plum and amaretto jam’ are the trademark of the Feinkost-Manufaktur Vinella in Bad Münster am Stein-Ebernburg on the Nahe. Claudia Rapp and her team use local produce combined with exotic fruits. The chutneys combine carrots with oranges or beetroot with pineapple.

More culinary travel highlights


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