Germany and beer may go hand-in-hand, but the country has much more on the alcohol frontier to offer than steins of brew.
The country is one of the world’s top wine producers, with some 1.3 billion bottles quantified every year. There are 13 official wine regions in Germany, within which quality wines and scenic countryside landscapes thrive away from the nation’s more industrial cities.
A majority of the production is, of course, white wines, what with Riesling being the main grape farmed in German vineyards. As such, German wines are associated with crisp, clean tasting whites, though that is not the end-all of what the category has to offer.
Experience the best of the wine regions in Germany the next time you visit the country by taking a detour to some of its most scenic areas. Most are based in Western Germany, flanking the Rhine, so travellers ought to take note that familiar points of entry to the region are Düsseldorf or Cologne. Let us take you through a brief tour.
Anyone with a modicum of familiarity about Germany’s wine industry will know Rheinhessen, as it is the country’s largest wine-producing region, and has been a viticultural stronghold since the ancient Roman empire.
Situated in the Rhine Valley and flanked by the Nahe and Rhine rivers, Rheinhessen’s breathtaking beauty is accentuated by he rolling hills and forests that flank the region.
White wine is the name of the game in Rheinhessen, especially since a town in the region, Worms, has gone down in history as having one of the earliest records for Riesling production. Still, you will be able to find a selection reds as well, as Dornfelder is one of the most planted varieties there, allowing you to sample both sides of the German wine spectrum.
Formerly known as Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, this is the crowning jewel of German’s wine industry given that most of the vineyards here produce vintage of a certain prestige.
The region follows the path of the picturesque Moselle river, with most of its vineyards located on the steep, challenging slopes that are labour intensive to maintain and harvest. Out of adversity comes great beauty, though, proven by how wines from Mosel are lauded for their delicate profiles.
Mosel is also home to some of the nation’s most well-known winemaking villages, including Piesport and Bernkastel, with the latter looking like the setting of a Grimm Brothers’ fairytale thanks to architecture that dates back as early as the 1400s.
More than 6,000 wineries are situated in Pfalz, the second major wine-producing region in Germany. Demarcated by the Haardt mountains, forest ranges, and spotted with ancient ruins, Pfalz is as charming as it gets.
So scenic is the area that there is a drive known as the German Wine Road, established in 1935, where pastoral country houses intersperse stretches of vines for 85 kilometres.
Given that Pfalz borders France, one can easily turn their road trip into a cross-cultural one. Just remember to drink only at the end of the drive.
Red wine fanatics, your trip to Germany is about to get better with a pitstop at Ahr. With its wine industry dating back to 893 AD, this region is the world’s most northern for red wine grape growth.
Home to a Mediterranean climate due to the Eifel mountains that frame Ahr, this compact region has birthed a distinctly Germanic style of Pinot Noir, with most of its 45 vineyards bottlings vintages of this model.
When it comes to sightseeing, Ahr, there is the popular Rotweinwanderweg (German for “red wine trail”), a 35-kilometre hike that stretches from Altenahr to Bad Bodenord, and takes you through a selection of quaint, romantic villages. Plenty of refuelling opportunities at vineyards in between is part of the journey too, of course.
Sachsen, or Saxony, is the easternmost and smallest wine region in Germany, framing the outskirts of Dresden and nearing Switzerland. Here is where one experiences a truly unique version of German winemaking as the minute industry there is mostly grown by individual farmers and consumed by locals. Because of this, Sachsen’s wines are not as easy to come by outside of the area.
Well worth a day trip (or two) out from Dresden or the nearby Meißen, visitors to Sachsen will find the area imbued with a quiet charm, marked with a treasure trove of architectural marvels, such as ancient castles.