A visit to the Röhrenbach family‘s Apfelhof farm on Lake Constance
The fog rolling in from Lake Constance is just what the apples need. It helps the trees to rest in winter. In the late spring, it stops the frost from damaging the blossom. In summer, it ensures the right humidity, helping the fruit to ripen in the sunshine. So the Röhrenbach family likes the fog! Erich and Evi Röhrenbach, and their daughter Lisa, love their home and growing apples. Father and daughter put the ripe apples in their baskets almost as carefully as if they were collecting eggs. At a snail‘s pace, they drive through the rows of apples, where dark nets protect the trees and fruit from hail storms, as well as from too much sun.
Erich Röhrenbach grows more than 10 varieties of apples. Special is the Gravenstein. Traditional and formerly very common in the region, it is juicy, with a great flavour and a spicy taste. But it is surprisingly delicate, does not always grow perfectly round and is sensitive to stress. The Röhrenbachs grow them as a hobby and pick them by hand.
The Apfelhof Bodensee, the Röhrenbach’s farm, is in Kippenhausen. This hamlet near Immenstaad, west of Friedrichshafen is in Germany‘s second largest apple-growing area. It is a family effort in the best sense of the word. Everyone is involved; everyone loves the orchards; every - one pulls together. But the family business encompasses far more than just apples. Their orchards produce pears, plums and cherries. Mum Evi’s domain also includes six comfortable holiday apartments, with a sauna for guests. Daughter Lisa lends a hand everywhere, planning the marketing and thinking about new products. At a small roadside stand with an honour system for payment, you can stock up on fresh fruit right from the farm. And if you want to learn even more about what goes on here, just come to one of the schnapps tastings in the beautiful, new distillery. Fruit brandies are another of Erich Röhrenbach‘s hobbies.
Apple cider for hot days on Lake Constance
Just selling apples, as father and daughter confirm, is simply not enough to make a living. So, the two of them are always dreaming up something new. Lisa recently had the idea for a cider made from Red Moon apples, a red-fleshed variety. The cider is low in alcohol and that makes it perfect for hot summer days on Lake Constance. Of course, it is best enjoyed with a view of the water. “I understand why so many people come here for their holidays,” says Erich Röhrenbach, with enthusiasm. “The landscape is unique – and when you can see the Alps on a clear day, it is simply wonderful.” He smiles and hands me an ice-cold apple cider.