cherries, © Achim Meurer© Achim Meurer

In Rheinhessen you can eat cherries ...

In the next few days, the harvest of cherries begins in the fields of the Rheinhessen fruit farmers. First, the sweet cherries turn, then follow the sour cherries. The parallels in the cultivation of wine and fruit are unmistakable. And finally, grapes are nothing but fruits, even if they are fermented in this country almost exclusively to wine

Already the Romans dealt with the viticulture as well as with the cultivation of different kinds of fruit. Charlemagne even ordered that every bride and groom have to plant 6 fruit trees, which certainly added to the large fruit trees at the gates of his imperial palace in Ingelheim in the Rhine plain. On top of that, Napoleon ordered that fruit trees should also be planted along the roads. These avenues can still be found today along many rural roads in Rheinhessen.

The mild climate and the light fertile soils of Rheinhessen also offer the cherries excellent conditions. Rheinhessen is not only Germany's largest winegrowing area, but most sour cherries are cultivated in the Republic as well. The variety "Shadow Morel", originally from France, sets the tone. The term "Morelle" for sour cherry has been around since the 17th century. It was then cultivated in the garden of a French Château and Morelle on Chàteau eventually became "Schattenmorelle".

Today, fruit growing is concentrated on the Rhine plain between Mainz and Bingen and on the south of Rheinhessen around Worms. The acreage for fruit is just over 2,200 hectares, of which approximately 450 hectares are sour cherry and 330 hectares sweet cherries. Nearly 200 companies are still involved in fruit growing today, the average farm in Rheinhessen now has an area of 10.7 ha. This has risen enormously in recent years, especially in Rheinhessen because many sideline work has thrown in the towel. These shaped the cultivation of cherries in Rheinhessen for a long time and often brought only the yield of a handful of cherry trees into the cooperative. Picking by hand is very time consuming, so that the cherry fields are created today so that they can be harvested by machine analogous to the grapes. One cause of this enormous structural change is perhaps the cherry vinegar fly, a pest that infects the fruits (and also the red grapes) shortly before maturity and can destroy the entire crop.

Most of the cherries are marketed through the Vereinigte Obstgenossenschaft (VOG) Ingelheim. A small part is offered directly by the grower from the farm or at weekly markets. The showpiece here is the Amorella-Kirsch-Manufaktur of the Mossel family in Mainz-Marienborn. Here is everything that is produced in a winery, just from cherries: cherry wine (sweet and dry), cherry secco, cherry sparkling wine, cherry juice, cherry vinegar and many more delicacies. Every Wednesday there is the "market swarming" instead, a kind of farmer's market 2.0, where until Monday night ordered goods can be picked up at various personally present producers.

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