Tasting Germany

by Sarah Ryan, WG’05

Since taking the helm of the Wharton Club of Germany and Austria last spring, Bernard Wendeln, WG’04, has wasted no time galvanizing the Wharton community across the region. In addition to regular regional events in cities such as Munich, Berlin, Cologne, Frankfurt and Hamburg, in late October, approximately 40 Wharton alumni living in the U.K., Switzerland and Germany convened in the Rhinegau for a wine and culture weekend.

The weekend kicked off with a dinner hosted at the home of Konstantin Mettenheimer, WG’83. The warm atmosphere at the Mettenheimer’s home in the foothills of the Tauro Mountains was the perfect way for early arrivals to introduce themselves and for old friends to reconnect.

Thanks to the personal network and local knowledge of Antoinette Graefin zu Eltz, WG’05, Saturday’s activities were truly unique events. The day started at 11 a.m. with a tour and tasting of six sparkling wines, including an organic wine and a sparkling red, at Schloss Vaux. Apparently, sparkling wine before lunch is good for digestion.

With a renewed happiness, the group set off for the Eberbach monastery, the setting for all of the interior scenes in the film The Name of the Rose. Our private tour of the Cistercian monastery was fascinating but was even more special because one of our attendees, Anne Friedrich, WG’06, G’09, was married in the monastery’s basilica only three weeks earlier.


Bernard Wendeln, WG’04, and Antoinette Graefin zu Eltz, WG’05,
organizers of the grand weekend in the Rhinegau.

After a bit of culture, it was time to burn off some of the wine and the hearty German lunch with a brisk walk through the vineyards. Exercise completed, bring on more wine—at one of the finest winemakers in Germany—Weingut Robert Weill.

That was followed by a three-course dinner paired with more magnificent wines. During dinner, Rainer Lauterbach, WG’00, shared the results of his work reducing infant mortality in Kenya, which led to a lively discussion about how the Wharton community can use their talents to affect positive change globally.

Lest you think that by midnight, the Wharton crowd was tired of wine, never fear! The final event of the evening was a special tasting in the cellars of the Schloss Reinhartshausen.

We were fortunate that clocks went back an hour during this weekend, and thus we were all armed with a much needed extra hour of sleep, allowing the group to meet for a walking tour in the adorable village of Rüdesheim before saying goodbye.

The weekend was a success in every sense of the word. The diversity of activities ensured that there was something for everyone and provided ample opportunity for everyone to get to know each other.

For a region with alumni as spread out as Germany and Austria, capstone events such as these are critical to keep the community connected.

It wasn’t long after that the German alumni group reconvened in Munich for a Lifelong Learning Master Class on November 15 with Nicolaj Siggelkow, the David M. Knott Professor at the Wharton School, department chair of the Management Department and co-director of the Mack Center for Technological Innovation. I am sure these events are only a taste of things to come for the German alumni community.