Schloss Johannisberg is a castle and winery in the Rheingau wine-growing region of Germany. It has been making wine for over 900 years. The winery is most noted for its claim to have 'discovered' late harvest wine.
A mountain on the north bank of the River Rhine near Mainz has been associated with the Church and with winemaking since the Dark Ages, when the estate of Ludwig der Fromme ('Louis the Pious') made 6000 litres of wine during the reign of Charlemagne. In 1100, Benedictine monks completed a monastery on the Bischofsberg ('Bishop's') mountain, having identified the site as one of the best places to grow vines. Thirty years later they built a Romanesque basilica in honour of John the Baptist, and the hill became known as Johannisberg ('John's mountain'). It was constructed on floor plans similar to that of its mother house, St. Alban's Abbey, Mainz. The monastery was a prime target for the Anabaptists in the German Peasants' War of 1525, and it was destroyed.
In 1716, Konstantin von Buttlar, Prince-Abbot of Fulda, bought the estate from Lothar Franz von Schönborn, started construction of the baroque palace, and, in 1720, planted Riesling vines, making it the oldest Riesling vineyard in the world. The estate changed hands several times during the Napoleonic Wars, but in 1816 Francis II, Holy Roman Emperor, gave it to the great Austrian statesman Prince von Metternich.
In 1942, the Schloss was bombed and reduced to a shell by the air raids on Mainz in 1942. By the mid-1960s it had been largely rebuilt by Prince Paul Alfons von Metternich and his wife Princess Tatiana, who had fled there on a farm cart in 1945 after the Russians had advanced on their other estates. Prince Paul died in 1992, leaving no heir, but a significant portion of his fortune to his mistress. With his death the House of Metternich became extinct. Although Princess Tatiana was allowed to reside in the Schloss until her death in 2006, the situation had forced her husband to sell the estate to the German Oetker family in 1974.References:
Sirmione castle was built near the end of the 12th century as part of a defensive network surrounding Verona. The castle was maintained and extended first as part of the Veronese protection against their rivals in Milan and later under the control of the Venetian inland empire. The massive fortress is totally surrounded by water and has an inner porch which houses a Roman and Medieval lapidary. From the drawbridge, a staircase leads to the walkways above the walls, providing a marvellous view of the harbour that once sheltered the Scaliger fleet. The doors were fitted with a variety of locking systems, including a drawbridge for horses, carriages and pedestrians, a metal grate and, more recently, double hinged doors. Venice conquered Sirmione in 1405, immediately adopting provisions to render the fortress even more secure, fortifying its outer walls and widening the harbour.
Thanks to its strategical geographical location as a border outpost, Sirmione became a crucial defence and control garrison for the ruling nobles, retaining this function until the 16th century, when its role was taken up by Peschiera del Garda.