Mathias Rippstein: in seinem Weingut und der dazugehörigen Heckenstube werden fränkische Bräuche neu interpretiert
Heckenwirtschaften in Franconia

The tradition of the Heckenwirtschaften in Franconia dates back to the Middle Ages. Winemaking families still offer tastings in their homes. Mathias Rippstein adds a new twist to that tradition. We paid him a visit

Wine maker Mathias Rippstein

Franconia’s Heckenwirtschaften are cosy places: winemakers open their doors and invite guests into their homes. At these convivial gatherings they enjoy regional dishes, lively conversation and a fine glass or two of wine made by the host.

A reinterpretation of the Heckenwirtschaft

The traditional “Heckenwirtschaft”, or hedgerow tavern, has been in existence for several centuries. It began life as a kind of domestic inn. After the harvest, the winemakers used to open their doors in order to sell the fresh wine directly. With it they served simple home cooking – not so Mathias Rippstein, who operates a winery in the Franconian town of Sand am Main. He is reinterpreting the Franconian custom by offering modern dishes and giving the tradition a modern feel – yet without losing sight of its origins.

Vineyard Rippstein

Preserving traditions yet bringing them up to date was the approach taken by Mathias Rippstein’s parents in days gone by. “An original Heckenwirtschaft has a maximum of 40 seats. But what do you do if 39 of them are occupied and a couple arrives at the door? It doesn’t make sense to invite one in and ask the other one to wait outside,” he explains. The family therefore acquired a restaurant licence and increased the seating to 70.

Mathias Rippstein: Bis heute dienen die Heckenwirtschaften als sozialer Treffpunkt

"From the art critic, the sommelier, to the painter who creates the wine"

In this way they turned their Heckenwirtschaft into a “Heckenstube”. And that’s not all: Mathias Rippstein has also changed the menu. With a glass of wine he serves not only typical regional dishes such as Franconian Flammkuchen (tarte flambée), but also more unusual foods, such as carpaccio of white Presssack (brawn) in a balsamic and pumpkin seed oil dressing or marinated wild boar ham with raspberry and walnut oil. This development reveals his culinary past.

Although his family have been growing vines here since the 1920s, Mathias Rippstein trained in the hotel trade and spent many years working in international cuisine. This was where he discovered his passion for fine wine. After the death of his father and brother in 1997, the trained sommelier returned home. He took on the family business, expanded the winery and raised the quality. “I went from being an art critic, or sommelier, to being the painter, who makes the wine”, he says with enthusiasm.

Mathias Rippstein: nachdem er erst jahrelang in der internationalen Gastronomie tätig war, übernahm er den Familienbetrieb

A a toast to conviviality in franconia

To this day the Heckenwirtschaften in Franconia serve as a social meeting place and have a major social and cultural significance. Mathias Rippstein reveals the secret behind the ongoing success of this tradition: “The Heckenwirtschaft doesn’t recognise status, everything happens on equal terms. Everyone is on a par. It’s all about being together.” Over a glass of wine and regional home cooking, people enjoy the Bavarian attitude to life – and in so doing continue a centuries-old custom.

More about the Rippstein Winery at (in German only)

Die Mainwiesen sind ein herrliches Naherholungsgebiet im Sommer

... from Mathias

A wonderful, picturesque and romantic town with a beautiful market place. At the salt market it seems as if time stands still. (in German only)

River Paradise Franconia
Here you will also find great bathing areas and the river paradise Franconia with wonderful, natural corners and sandy bays. (in German only)

Nature Park Haßberge
And not to forget: the Haßberge. Their landscape is characterized by gentle hills and numerous castles, fortresses and castle ruins. (in German only)

More stories for foodies:

Bieramt: Jede Woche gibt es wechselndes Fassbier aus Franken

More beer than authority: The "Bieramt" in Nuremberg

Boris Braun brings a quaffable element of Franconian identity to life in the “Bieramt” in Nuremberg

Read more
Max Krieger ist ausgebildeter Brauer und Mälzer

Brewer Maximilian Krieger

Maximilian Krieger, eighth-generation brewer, is breaking new ground at Riedenburger Brauhaus to preserve the old. We met with him

Read more
O-Ton Wurzbacher:

Treasures from the spruce forest

Two-star chef Alexander Hermann and clever gourmets love the fantastic aromas of the inconspicuous slate truffle. And only Bernd Wurzbacher finds them

Read more

Michelin star chef Valentin Rottner

Wood sorrel in the sorbet, moss as decoration, home-shot game on the plate. The working philosophy of Valentin Rottner from Nuremberg

Read more
Juliusspital: Robert Haller und Horst Kolesch beim Prüfen der Weinreben

Winemakers Robert Haller and Horst Kolesch

The wines of the “Juliusspital” and the “Bürgerspital” are cellared in traditional fashion and known around the world for their quality

Read more
Arnd Erbel: Der Bäcker präsentiert stolz Brotlaibe frisch aus dem Ofen

Traditional baking by Arnd Erbel

In one of Germany’s oldest bakeries, Arnd Erbel produces bread, pretzels and Lebkuchen in the traditional way. With no additives or baker’s yeast

Read more

News from Bavaria

Get first-hand tips on stories, travel reports and events!