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River trip Up the Moselle, Mosel, from Koblenz to Trier Its wines, its towns, and people.

Updated on December 4, 2013
German Corner Koblenz
German Corner Koblenz

So we start in Koblenz, a city that has a foot in both the Rhine and the Mosel rivers. The name Koblenz originates from Latin(ad) confluentes or "(at the) merging of rivers Subsequently it was Covelenz and Cobelenz. In the local dialect the name is Kowelenz.

The town celebrated its 2000th birthday in 1992; it was founded in 8 B.C. by the Roman General Drusus. The Rhine bcame the northern most boundary of the Roman Empire.

Probably its most famous landmark is the enormous 14 meter high statue of WilhelmI astride his war horse. The statue juts out into the rivers and is known as German Corner. The city is surrounded by ancient fortresses, and from where we will begin the journey, the famous Fortress Ehrenbreitstein, dominates where the rivers meet. If you come in late August then you will see the Rhine in flames celebration here, which is a series of fantastic firework displays in several of the Rhine cities.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Fortress Ehrenbreitsteinmap of the Moselleour ship leaves the Rhine and joins the Moselle at German corner, Koblenz.
Fortress Ehrenbreitstein
Fortress Ehrenbreitstein
map of the Moselle
map of the Moselle
our ship leaves the Rhine and joins the Moselle at German corner, Koblenz.
our ship leaves the Rhine and joins the Moselle at German corner, Koblenz.

Join me on a trip up the Moselle in Germany. I intend to share my experiences of the places, the wines, and the people that I met along the way. My first trip will take us from the ancient city of Koblenz to the oldest German city, Trier cruising along the famous Moselle River. I’ll introduce you to the various procedures and secrets of wine making, the grapes, the soils, and the labelling of the wine.

I hope you watch the video clips; I assure you that you will enjoy them and they will give you a real sense of the place.

Koblenz, Germany

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kochem moselle:

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zell moselle:

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Trier, Germany

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This video gives you bags of info

So all aboard and let’s cast off and begin our journey.

River cruising is such a hassle free way to travel; the scenery just glides peacefully by as if on a conveyor belt. The only traffic that there is, is very interesting, usually other holiday ships, or perhaps one of the many commercial barges that earns a living on the river.

The wine area of the Moselle is usually described as the Moselle-Saar-Ruwer, which covers the area of the upper Moselle almost in France where the Saar and the Ruwer rivers join the Moselle.

Traditionally the wines of this region are in green bottles and are all described as elegant and racy. They were first planted by the Romans who used a grape variety from Greece called the Elbling, these days the most common grown grape and the one Moselle wines are best known for is the Riesling, pronounced, Rees-ling. Other varieties are also grown. The Kerner is my favourite but it is only about 5% of the output of this region.

I worked for a German wine company for about four years and so I am pretty confident with these wines. I’ve also worked on the river cruise ship for two full seasons in 96 and 97 as part of the entertainment staff, I entertained from my piano on board, and I often went on the tour excursions to various sights..

Here is our ship.
Here is our ship. | Source

Still within sight of Koblenz we enter a lock on the river, which lifts us into the main river canal which will take us to Trier. The Moselle valley has its own weather system and micro climate and has a reputation for being warm and sunny.

The wines at this end of the river are influenced by the flinty deposits and rich acidity of the soil. They are very fragrant and have a flowery bouquet.

A word about German wines in general. They probably have one of the strictest controls of any wine producing nation and unlike say France, that self assesses its wines the wines of all Germanic growers are graded by an independent wine authority.

In the UK, we usually only see the wines which are actually not saleable in Germany because they don’t have a good enough grade to be sold there.

Who's the cool guy on Keyboard?

Her I am, looking cool, and smooth
Her I am, looking cool, and smooth | Source

The river here is very picturesque, its banks are gently formed low verdant hills, and of course all the south facing hills are covered in vines. It is quite strange at first, because as the river twists and turns the vines swop from left to right, so that they catch the maximum sun.

The small towns along the river contain many half-timbered houses, with cobbled roads and quaint town squares surrounded by wonderful cake shops and cafes. Many of even the smallest of these towns were bombed flat to the ground during WWII, but the restoration work has been incredible. The Moselle valley as it meanders from France towards Koblenz is even more beautiful than the Rhine valley for all its fame. Hilltop fairytale castles that once levied tolls on river traffic now look down dispassionately on modern travellers.

Delightful streets to wander
Delightful streets to wander | Source

The small towns along the river contain many half-timbered houses, with cobbled roads and quaint town squares surrounded by wonderful cake shops and cafes. Many of even the smallest of these towns were bombed flat to the ground during WWII, but the restoration work has been incredible. The Moselle valley as it meanders from France towards Koblenz is even more beautiful than the Rhine valley for all its fame. Hilltop fairytale castles that once levied tolls on river traffic now look down dispassionately on modern travellers.

We are heading towards Cochem a delightful town that has its own castle perched high above the river. We shall spend the night here and sample the delights of the town and its wines.

Images of Cochem

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panarama looking across the MoselleCochem castle
panarama looking across the Moselle
panarama looking across the Moselle
Cochem castle
Cochem castle
Triumph Bonny, coolist engine sound, almost as good as a Supermarine Spitfire.
Triumph Bonny, coolist engine sound, almost as good as a Supermarine Spitfire.
Gold Wing, home from home
Gold Wing, home from home
Cochem town square
Cochem town square | Source

We moor across the river and so we have to take the bridge over the river to the main town. On a weekend, the town is a Mecca for motor bikers, who flock from across the world to meet here. The bikes are pretty impressive too, every iconic bike can be found here. Triumph Bonnevilles are side by side with Honda Gold wings in all their magnificent fairings, some even tow matching trailers. BMW, Yamaha, the list seems endless, they park in a line along the waterfront.

We climb a short road to the town gates. The light is dimmed as you enter through the ancient gateway and then suddenly you are into the bright, light, and an airy town square. All your senses come under fire at once, as you hear the sounds of oom-pa-pa music, and smell baking bread, and brewing coffee from the pavement cafes. There are wonderful patisseries, with layered delights, and enough fondant fancies to sink the ship.

We could take a seat, and enjoy a cappuccino and maybe a cake. It is fun to people watch, especially somewhere like this where tourists come from across the globe. An excited group of Japanese tourists suddenly arrive in the square; their cameras flash and there is a chorus of SLR shutters clattering open and shut. They cheer everyone’s spirits as they dash about bowing to people and chatter like excited schoolchildren. A stern looking German woman holds up a brightly coloured umbrella and they flock after her back to their coach and away to the next photo-opportunity.

As evening approaches, the volume and intensity of music increases. I’ve ordered wienerschnitzel followed by a portion of strudel, well I have to try these things for you. To drink I’ve chosen a Cochemer Rosenhang kabinett, the Riesling wine will be light and have a slight floral flavour. This wine is described as ‘Halbtrockene’ on the wine list. Trockene wines are dry so a halbtrockene is half, or part dry, just right for a light meal.

People are dancing to the music and I think it is time to head back to the ship, I decide to have a small glass of Weinbrand, Germany’s answer to brandy. It certainly makes you feel nice and warm and fortified for the walk back.

All Abooard

We cast off once more as morning arrives and we head deeper into the Moselle valley towards one of my favourite wine towns called Zell.

The river is even more twisty today with great meandering bends that almost go full circle. The towns still have that quaint, peaceful look about them, and following us up the river is the railway line that accompanies us to our final destination of Trier. The riverbanks here are much steeper than before some are almost vertical. They have to be harvested by people hanging precariously on ropes, with helpers at the top pulling up the baskets of grapes.

Cocham | Source


Zell is a delightful wine town, it has secretive little side streets that seem to beckon you into them, and if you follow, you will find a number of wine cellars. You will be welcomed in by the owner and offered various wines to sample and hopefully buy.

The Black cat wine here is the most famous. Legend has it that thieves were stealing some one’s wine and their black cat attacked the thieves and saved the wine.

I had a favourite cellar and bought a great deal of wine including Auslese wines. These are very special late harvest wines. When you pour the wine it is a golden colour, and immediately a Mead like smell hits you. When you take your first sip, it is like honey and lemons. This is not meal wine, it is a pure indulgent moment wine; a close your eyes and dream moment, you will be convinced that angels have poured the wine onto your lips.

We go back to the ship with our feet about four inches off the ground, but first we buy a large ice cream cone to eat on the way back. Germany excels at many things; food and wine are probably their best.

Apart from its wines, Zell is famous for its reliquary shrine of St Peter. The shrine was established in 1180 and Peter’s bones were brought here from Limoges around about that time. There is also an impressive Baldi Chin very much like the one in the Church of our Lady, [liebfrauenkirche] in Trier.



As we head towards Trier we pass many famous towns and landmarks such as the famous

Traben-Trarbach with its wonderful art nouveau town gates.

You can also have your dinner in a very strange place, in the sky. The dinner table with seats is lifted by an enormous crane high above the river. As long as you have a head for heights then you can eat and watch the river. Another famous wine city is Bernkastel with its delightful cobbled market square surrounded by some of the finest, and ornate half-timbered houses you will ever see, many dating from the15th century. Most famously, is the Pointed House, a jewel of the rustic middle class building tradition from the Middle Ages and a classic example of the Moselle vintner’s dwelling.

There is so much to see and so many of the small towns which are worth visiting along the river that I can’t possibly call at them all, but our next city is possibly the oldest in Europe.

There is a legend that it was the Assyrians under Prince Trebeta, son of King Ninus and stepson of Queen Semiramis, who founded Trier long before the Romans arrived. The city in Roman times was the capital of a huge portion of their empire, encompassing present-day Spain, France, Britain and parts of Germany! It has one of the best amphitheatres in existence, baths, a roman bridge but best of all, the Porta Nigra, an immense fortified gate which formed the eastern border.

From late April almost to the end of November the streets throng with tourists, there is an abundance of street cafes and bars. Whenever you go there is music, food, wine, and people enjoying life. This area of Germany is known for its hospitality and zest for life, an emotion which soon overtakes the traveller holidaymaker.

This is the end of our little trip, I hope you've enjoyed it. Look out for other trips that I am planning to share with you. It has been a trip down memory lane for me and I have enjoyed this journey again as it brought back many happy memories.

street cafe
street cafe | Source

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