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Wine Country Germany
Travelling to Germany? Of course, there is hip Berlin with its notorious party scene and the Brandenburg Gate, Frankfurt with its (unimpressive) skyscrapers and the European Central Bank, the cuckoo clocks of the dense and evergreen Black Forest and of course Munich with the Oktoberfest and its beer cellars such as the world-famous Hofbräuhaus. And of course you can drink beer there and anywhere.
But we think beer is not why you are here as you are looking for excellent wines to taste. Almost 2,000 years ago the Romans brought viticulture to Germany and set everything in motion. Nowadays, the winegrower and wine connoisseur scene in Germany is as unique and multi-faceted as the wines grown from almost 140 different grape varieties on around 2,600 vineyard sites. By the way: there is a great article in the Washington Post Magazine that’s worth reading: “How German Wine Found Its Sweet Spot“.
Hidden behind unpronounceable names on the bottle labels (containing strange Umlauts like “Ö” or “Ü”) you can find amazing wines worth coming to Germany for. The best thing for you as a wine lover is that you can hop into a car when arriving at a German airport and reach most of the German wine-growing regions very quickly. Continue reading for a brief overview of the main German wine regions…
Major Cities: Trier, Koblenz, Bonn
In the “West” you will find the vineyards of Ahr, Mosel and Middle Rhine (which are river names). The wine grows on extremely steep slopes on the river valleys and winegrowers are often real climbing artists. You shouldn’t miss the dreamy narrow arches of the red wine paradise Ahr — pure romance! — along with the UNESCO World Heritage Site Rhine Valley and the countless loops of the Mosel with Rieslings of world fame. The nearby cities of Cologne, Trier and Koblenz provide many cultural highlights to compliment your wine tour.
By the way, the New York Times has ranked “Mosel wine country” as #34 in its “Places to Go in 2016” list: “The Mosel is shedding its uptight oenophile image and embracing its wild side, which is attracting wine-minded outdoor types to its steep, riesling-lined riverbanks.” You can read the full article here (as mentioned, Mosel is #34).
Major Cities: Frankfurt, Wiesbaden, Mainz
Rheingau, Nahe, Rheinhessen and Palatinate are four wine-growing regions, whose rich variety is simply amazing. Don’t be fooled when you visit the popular tourist area of the Rheingau in the direct vicinity of Frankfurt. A visit of the famous “Drosselgasse” in Rüdesheim may remind you of a Fort Lauderdale Beach for seniors but Riesling and red wine estates are at home there, whose wines regularly achieve top prices at international auctions.
If you want it calmer, on the Nahe you can find finesse rich wines ripen in mild and sunny climates and mineral springs offer opportunities for wellness and relaxation.
Germany’s largest wine-growing region, Rheinhessen, is lined up on countless gently undulating hills. If you want to find a place without wine-growing tradition, you are definitely wrong. With the “Gutenberg” City of Mainz, it is also home to one of the ten “Capital of Wines” connecting the “old” and the “new” world of wine.
In the south you can find the Palatinate — a wine-growing region of superlatives that extends as far as the nearby French border. Inspired by France, there is a collection of culinary highlights garnished with innovative wineries. Between Kaiserslautern and Ludwigshafen, conviviality is celebrated since there is always something to celebrate here. This can be experienced every year in Bad Dürkheim, hosting the largest wine festival in the world.
Major Cities: Heidelberg, Stuttgart, Mannheim
If you come to the region from the north via the old Roman road “strata montana”, you should take your foot off the gas. Otherwise you will miss the small wine growing region Hessischen Bergstraße with its vineyards inclined towards the Rhine valley. To the east are the quiet valleys of the Odenwald, an absolute contrast to the lively hustle and bustle that awaits you shortly afterwards in Germany’s oldest and absolutely worth seeing university town of Heidelberg. From Heidelberg, you can either take the Baden Wine Route through the homonymous wine-growing region further into the south, or along the river Neckar over Heilbronn and Stuttgartinto THE German red wine region Württemberg where over 70% red grape varieties are cultivated. No matter how you decide, there will be plenty of opportunities for great wine tastings along your tour.
Major City: Würzburg
Is that really a bottle? If you ask yourself this question, you are in the Franconian wine region. The typical bottle shape here is the so-called “Bocksbeutel”. Already Goethe, one of the most famous German poets, was not deterred by the shape but counted the Franconian wines among his favourites. You should also follow him and explore the wine landscape along the river Main, whose centre is the baroque city of Würzburg. Here, as everywhere else in the Franconian wine towns with their fortified walls and pavements, the Middle Ages come alive. And when you sit with a glass of wine in the romantic little courtyards, it doesn’t matter what the bottle looks like, because the wine from the traditional Franconian wineries is simply excellent. And maybe a winegrower will tell you at a late hour one of the many legends on how the Bocksbeutel got its name.
Major Cities: Freiburg, Konstanz, Strasbourg
If you want to go on a road trip where you can cross diverse landscapes and constantly taste wine somewhere, then you should take a look at the southern wine region. The Baden Wine Route connects over 300 miles (500km) from north to south several climatically different areas. The route takes you on a tour from the sophisticated Baden-Baden, the Kaiserstuhl with the warmest climates in Germany and Freiburg, at the foot of the Black Forest, down to the Swiss border. If you then make a hop east to Lake Constance, you will even see a small piece of the Württemberg wine-growing region, while in the distance the alpine panorama of the Alps is already visible on the horizon.
Major Cities: Leipzig, Dresden
Although viticulture in the “East” has a similarly long tradition as in the other regions, this corner is still relatively unknown due to Germany’s long division until 1990 — ideal for people looking for places “off the beaten path”. Here — relatively far away from the other wine growing regions — you will find the northernmost quality wineries in Germany along the 51st degree of latitude. Just for context: in North America this latitude runs north of Vancouver, Canada! It is a beautiful region with many castles and vineyard churches where adventurous wine lovers still can find rare wines and interesting vineyards. This alone is a reason to visit the wine-growing areas of Saale-Unstrut and Saxony. Between the City of Leipzig, with the tomb of the famous composer Johann Sebastian Bach and the nearby “Völkerschlachtdenkmal” (commemorating the European liberation wars against Napoleon), and Dresden — also known as Elbflorenz — there are plenty of opportunities to enjoy the rich cultural heritage of this region.
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