Bernkasteler Doctor – The Legend and the Wine

The Bernkasteler Doctor – A Legend of How this Famous German Wine Got its Name:

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Bernkastel Doctor fountain

When visiting Bernkastel-Kues, you don’t have to be ill to seek out the Bernkasteler Doctor. Wine-lovers will be pleased to know that the Bernkasteler Doctor is actually the name of one of the premium wines from the Bernkastel region and there is also a lovely legend surrounding the name of this wine.

The Legend

Along the Bernkastel river front, just before the Dr. Pauly-Bergweiler estate at Gestade 15, is a little park with a bronze fountain in the middle.  The Doctorbrunnen sculpture tells the story of the Bernkasteler Doctor.  According to a local legend, the Elector of Trier, the archbishop Boemund II, was staying at Landshut Castle in 1360 when he became seriously ill. The Elector’s celebrated doctors prescribed all kinds of medicines and remedies for his fever, but to no effect. In desperation, apothecaries and herb women from near and far were brought in to give the Elector their potions, but nothing worked.

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The famous Bernkastel Doctor

Along came an old winegrower who brought the Elector a keg of his finest wine, declaring it to be the best medicine. He claimed that he himself uses the wine to ward of illnesses and fevers and it had always worked for him. By this time, the Elector was quite sick of taking all the nasty-tasting potions that had been given to him.  He was initially reluctant to take any more potions, but when he sipped the wine and found that it tasted rather nice, he was happy to drink it.  Miraculously his fever was cured.

When asked by the Elector what he wanted as a reward for his services, the old winegrower jokingly asked that his vineyard be awarded the academic title of ‘Doctor’ since his wine was the only remedy that was able to cure the Elector. The Elector didn’t mind the joke and in recognition that this particular wine was his “true healer”, he issued a certificate awarding the vineyard the prestigious honour of “Bernkasteler Doctor” from then on.

Bernkasteler Doctor Vineyard

Like all legends, there are many variations of this famous local tale. Whether you believe this legend or not, the Bernkasteler Doctor vineyard does exist and only wine grown from this vineyard can be called the Bernkasteler Doctor. The vineyard, which rises steeply behind the town of Bernkastel, mostly produces riesling grapes. Because of its location and the terroir, the wines from the Bernkastel vineyards are said to be as legendary as the miraculous cure of the Elector.

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The Bernkasteler Doctor vineyards

If you appreciate good wines, you may want to seek out the Bernkasteler Doctor to see if it cures all remedies for you. If not, you’ll at least have enjoyed some nice wines.

Comment below.


  1. avatarPat Carter says

    Enjoyed the article, brought back memories of the river cruise. Thanks. Hope to see you both again in our travels.

  2. avatar says

    Greetings Pat, glad you liked the Bernkasteler Doctor post. We’re still plodding along with our trip material and there’s so much more to do. We should be doing more river cruise posts which we hope will bring back great memories as well.
    We hope that you and Terry are both well and not too affected by the wranglings of your politicians? If we’re not mistaken, you’re cruising again shortly?

    Yes, it would be great to see you guys again. At the moment we can’t decide where in Europe we want to tackle next year, but in 2015 we have plans to visit the States.

    Regards to all,
    Helen & Tony

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