Autumn is the harvest season in Germany. There are 13 regions where wine is cultivated, the same number as in France. The regions are located mainly in southern Germany and along the Rhine, Moselle and Ahr rivers. Both the soil and the climate favor the ripening of the grapes, both white and red, and give German wines their much coveted flavor and quality. It was the Romans who brought the first grapes to Germany when they conquered the region around 2,000 years ago and apparently had too much trouble transporting heavy amphorae across the Alps. They were lucky because the grapes adapted to the local conditions of their new province. Germany.
It was however the Emperor Charlemagne who, in the 8th century, regulated all viticulture and marketing, the center of which was mainly monasteries. You can visit the best wine tasting destinations all year round, but fall is particularly appealing as it often coincides with the grape harvest festivals. The regions in which we take you are not only known for the quality of their wine, but also for their history, their traditional vineyards and their beautiful landscapes with leaves that take colors.
1. Nierstein / Rhine Hesse
Rhine-Hesse is the largest of the German wine regions. Located on the west bank of the Rhine, it is part of the larger region known as Rhineland-Palatinate. The landscape is covered with hills on which there are many vineyards. The largest city is Mainz with Frankfurt International Airport only around 30 minutes away.
The grapes that grow here are mostly white, Riesling for example, and the best-known wine outside of Germany is Liebfraumilch. The best wine tasting places can be found in the charming towns of Nierstein and Oppenheim. Combine history with good wine on the first stop of your Rhine-Hesse wine tasting tour, at Germany’s oldest wine-growing site, Niersteiner Glock. Of course you also want to try Niersteiner Domtal, so the next stop might be Weingut Staiger.
Oppenheim is home to the German wine museum which documents the history of viticulture since Roman times. The most famous wine is Oppenheimer Kroetenbrunnen and you have to stop at the vineyard of the same name and taste its wines.
Pro tips: Learn some German words: the vine is Weingut, wine tastings are probe us and the winegrowers are winzer.
2. Frankfurt / Sachsenhausen
As you are so close to Frankfurt, you might as well take a few hours and visit the Sachsenhausen district, south of the Mainz river. Sachsenhausen is famous for a wide variety of cider bars and pubs, such as Cider or Applewoi (Applewine) is the standard drink in Frankfurt. Frankfurt is located in Hesse and there are also a lot of other wineries, but you know the saying: “when in Rome…”
So, do your tasting of the best cider in one of the oldest and most original cider houses: Zum gemalten Haus.
3. Moselle / Bernkastel / Cochem
The Moselle is a very winding river which flows into the Rhine. The river valley is bordered by vineyard after vineyard, often very steep and terraced. Cultivated since Roman times, the wines produced here are primarily from the Riesling grape and are sold in distinctive, thin, dark green bottles. Moselle wines are rather low in alcohol, with high acidity and fruity undertones.
The Moselle winds like a snake and with the steep slopes covered in wine and the medieval towns and villages surrounding it, this is one of the most beautiful areas in Germany to visit in the fall. Cochem, a medieval town that spans the river, proves my point. There is the majestic Reichsberg Castle, the half-timbered houses and the city gates which date back to 1332. Of course we are interested in wine tastings and you can do that with an oenologist called HH Hieronimi. Or you can visit the vineyard Juffermauer located in Treis-Karden for a superb Riesling.
Idyllic Bernkastel-Kues is another gem of the Moselle region. The medieval city center and the 9th century Landshut Castle invite you to a visit before embarking on a very original wine tasting: Doctor Wine Tour. Legend The owner of the vineyard gave it to the sick Elector Bohémond II in the 14th century who was cured after consuming two glasses of golden wine.
4. Ahr Valley / Bad Neuenahr
The Ahr is a tributary of the Rhine. Although small, the Ahr region is Germany’s largest producer of red wines, mostly made from Pinot Noir (Spatburgunder) grapes. Bad Neuenahr-Ahrweiler is a spa town located among the hills of the Ahr Valley. In addition to spa treatments, Bad Neuenahr also has a lively casino.
If you’d rather stick to wine tasting, visit the Weingut Sonnenberg at the end of the Ahr Wine Route in Bad Neuenahr. Family owned, you can taste their Grauburgunders, Fruehburgunders or Spaetburgunders at your leisure. Another winery is located in the town of Dernau. It’s called HJNaekle Kreuzberg and was severely damaged by recent flooding. However, it is recovering and will soon be open again for wine tastings.
5. Franconia / Würzburg / Volkach
The Franconian wine region stretches along the Main River. 82 percent is white wine, the most important being Silvaner, Muller-Thurgau and a local specialty called Bacchus. Franconian wines are easily recognized by the flattened, ellipsoid shape of the bottles, called Bocksbeutel. The center of the wine region is the beautiful Baroque town of Würzburg located on both sides of the Main River. It is home to a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Residenz, the Marienburg Fortress and the Old Main Bridge. The oldest and most famous vineyard in Wurzburg is the Wurzburger Stein. Steep and exposed to the south, it is protected from the winds by a forest belt at the top. This vineyard produced the oldest white wine in the world, a 1540 vintage from Steinwein. Only one bottle remains intact, which you can see (but certainly not taste) during a tour of the cellars of the Buergerspital. Steinweiss is still produced in the Stein vineyard, so you can taste how good they are on a visit. An anecdote: the wines from this vineyard were the favorites of the German writer Goethe.
Another wine-tasting destination is the medieval town of Volkach, with a wine festival, old town gates, and a pilgrimage church dating back to the 1300s. A local specialty you can enjoy at the festival or in the fall after the harvest, is the Federweisser, the new wine. A cellar not to be missed is Domaine Max Muller, now headed by Christian Muller. His Silvaner is one of a kind. Christian even tattooed his passion for Silvaner on his forearm!
6. Palatinate / Bad Dürkheim / Deidesheim
The Palatinate is part of Rhineland-Palatinate and the second largest wine region in Germany. Most notable is the world’s largest wine festival in Bad Dürkheim, which takes place every year on 2 weekends in September. You will have missed it this year, but don’t worry, there is the 53 mile long Deutsche Weinstrasse, the famous wine route, established in 1935. It starts at the French border and ends at the Maison de la route. German Wines in Bockenheim. The Palatinate is one of the warmest regions of Germany and not only known for the culture of wine but also for its almond trees. Autumn is the best time to visit the vineyards of the Palatinate, as there are too many to list. At all your tastings, get used to a special glass for drinking wine in the Palatinate: it contains 50cl, opens upwards, and has cells, very practical to hold the glass when you have drunk it. They are called Dubbeglass.
Riesling, pinot blanc, pinot gris and gewurztraminer (all white wines) make up the majority of wine production in the Palatinate. But, recently, the production of red wine has also become important, such as fresh Weissherbst. Bad Dürkheim is a charming spa town with many wine bars for tasting all types of Palatinate wines. Deidesheim is a small but prestigious local wine-growing village. Just north of downtown, stop at Kalkofen. It used to be a lime kiln!
7. Heilbronn / Württemberg
Located along the Neckar River, Württemberg is red wine country. It is the leading producer of red wine in Germany. It is said that locals consume more wine here than anywhere else in Germany and are particularly fond of Trollinger or their rose called Schillerwein. The biggest cities are Stuttgart (with an international airport) and Heilbronn. The vineyards of the Neckar Valley are steep and terraced and can only be cultivated by hand.
Heilbronn is known as the wine capital of Württemberg. Located on both banks of the Neckar River, there are several sites to visit, such as the Bollwerk Turm, the Gietzen Turm, the Si Kilian Church and the Astronomical Clock in the Town Hall Tower.
True to its reputation, Heilbronn is the site of the great Weingut Rolf Heinrich where you can taste all the wines mentioned above as well as Lemberger, another local wine. Taste and buy all the great wines of Württemberg at Cave Württemberg.
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