The Zahn vineyard

Fine wine, fine food and unmissable events

In the small village of Kaatschen, one timber-framed house follows another. The Saale river flows along one side, while on the other the hills are covered in vines. The entrance to the village is a glorious sight as you cross the Saale river on a stone bridge into the district of Grossheringen. This idyllic spot is home to the Zahn winegrowing estate, and behind its wooden gates lies the restaurant with its inviting terrace. Here, vines grow above the heads of the guests to create a natural green roof.

You could say that winegrowing is in the Zahn family’s blood. Torsten General manages the estate together with his wife, Elvira Zahn-General, and his brother-in-law André Zahn. The business was founded by Elvira’s parents, and her father, Hartmut Zahn, still likes to check in on the vines every now and then. Hartmut’s wife, Christina, is also still very much involved as the office manager. Elvira, a former wine queen of the Saale-Unstrut region, studied viticulture at Heilbronn University and returned to Thuringia full of innovative ideas. She and her husband, Torsten, are now responsible for the restaurant and for marketing the wine.

“We think it’s a bit old-fashioned to just show guests around the wine cellar and talk about acidity and sugar content,” says owner Torsten General. “We prefer to present wine as a package in which it plays a role, but not necessarily the starring one.” And so the estate has become part of an all-round experience. Throughout the year, the team offers events such as a moonlight trip on an inflatable boat, a stylish dinner among the vines or a murder-mystery dinner in the vineyard. All of these events have one thing in common: a wine tasting.

Dinner in the vineyard, Zahn winegrowing estate., ©Anne Schüßler, Thüringer Tourismus GmbH

The estate’s location in the triangle between Weimar, Jena and Naumburg on the border to Saxony-Anhalt is perfect for wines such as acolon, pinot blanc, blauer zweigelt and muscaris. “The grapes can properly ripen here on the south-facing slopes,” says André, who as cellar master is responsible for storing the wines. He looks for and finds the right ageing method for every wine, whether it calls for stainless steel, large wooden barrels or barrique. “The 1,600 or so hours of sunshine a year, the low rainfall, the rich soils and the mild climate in the Saale-Unstrut region ensure that our wines are full of character.”

The restaurant is now full of life: smartly dressed waiters keep glasses topped up and serve dishes such as riesling soup and fillet of Thuringian catfish. Torsten and Elvira apply the same attention to detail to the food in their restaurant as they do to their wines. “We focus on regional cuisine, and we make sure we know all of our producers personally, especially when it comes to meat and fish.”

Restaurant, fireside lounge at the Zahn winegrowing estate in Thuringia., ©Florian Trykowski, Thüringer Tourismus GmbH

What started as a small vintner’s tavern is now a well-established and carefully thought-out restaurant. The Saale river flows past the terrace, now and then a few canoeists greet us, and a goose is cleaning itself on the other bank. “That’s the village goose, it comes here every day,” Torsten says with a chuckle. “We hadn’t booked it specially!” With or without the goose, the Zahn estate’s inner courtyard provides the perfect backdrop to a glass or two of wine to accompany a freshly grilled trout.


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