The birthplace of the estate started with the endowment of a noble pair of Würzburg citizens in 1316. Johannes and Mergadis von Steren built an old people's home at the gates of the old city for nursing "Christians suffering from affliction" and taking care of the hungry and the poor.
The first vineyards, which were planted in 1321 served to supply the endowment's own needs. In 1598, the residents of the old people's home were provided with a tankard - 1.22 litres - of wine. If the residents behaved in an unruly manner, water was mixed with the wine as a punishment. If such behaviour went too far, the wine ration was cancelled - a draconian warning! Soon, Bürgerspital was financing its charitable enterprises from the wine proceeds and estate stewardship.
Today 750 senior citizens live in the eight Bürgerspital residential and nursing homes, being managed, nursed, taken care of and medically treated by skilled staff. Authoritarian severity is now fortunately a thing of the past.
Steep locations and lots of sun
With a wine-growing area of 120 hectares, Bürgerspital wine estate, at home in a fantastically beautiful courtyard right in the middle of Würzburg, is one of the largest wine estates in Germany and one of the most important.
A combination of the estate’s proud tradition, the wonderful vineyards in their splendid locations, the fecund nature of the soil and the climate make up very fine unique quality wines.
The slopes and steep sites of the hills along the River Main offer ideal conditions for growing wine. The sun smiles upon the vineyards quite early in the year, the Shelly limestone soil (Muschelkalk) storing the warmth. Almost 80 hectars of these vineyards are located within Würzburg's boundaries. Steep vineyards of 50 or 60 per cent are seldom to be found. The location, the soil, the climate, the proximity to the river, the selection of the types of vine and the art of the Bürgerspital wine-growers enable exceptional wines to be grown here.