Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Germany holidays: Get a real taste of South West Germany …

… and check into a wine barrel

SouthWest Germany, the federal state of Baden-Württemberg, is not only one of Germany’s most popular travel destinations, with all-time favourites such as the Black Forest, Lake Constance, Heidelberg, Baden-Baden or Freiburg, it is also a superb centre for the country’s wine industry.
Wines from this region profit from the favourable climate with more hours of sunshine than in other parts of the country and are among the finest and most diverse in Europe. There are two main wine-growing areas, Baden and Württemberg. Baden is Germany’s third biggest and most southerly region, stretching from Heidelberg to the Swiss border. Some 40 per cent of the vineyards are planted with red wine grapes, mainly Pinot Noir.
The Württemberg wine region lies along the Neckar river and its tributaries, mainly north of Stuttgart, which is the only state capital with its own municipal wine-growing estate. The family-run vineyards here plant their grapes, lots of them red varieties, on steep and scenic slopes, and wine lovers scouting for new experiences should not miss this small pocket of wine bliss. The Untertürkeim neighbourhood, for example, just outside Stuttgart is the right spot for a walk in the vineyards on ‘wine hiking trails’, and everyone would be forgiven for rounding off the day with a tasting session at the cooperative of local vintners.  A well-known grape variety here is the Trollinger, a fruity and light red wine.
 Wine routes and festivals
Apart from walks in vineyards and wine tasting sessions, there are plenty more ingredients in SouthWest Germany  to create an immersive wine trip. Two wine-themed routes – Württemberg Wine Road and Baden Wine Road – wind their way through some lovely landscape, making sure that none of the main wine regions are missed. Then there are the wine festivals, part and parcel of the regional culture and a great way to socialise, with Stuttgart Wine Village (23 August to 3 September 2013) as one of Germany’s largest wine and food festivals. It lasts a whooping 12 days and visitors, in theory, could try 250 different Württemberg wines. Near Stuttgart, little-known ‘Fellbacher Herbst’ (11 to 14 October 2013) is a local favourite. International visitors are in for a tourist-free experience here.
To get a taste of Baden’s wines, the wine festival in Freiburg (4 to 9 July 2013), is a great way to combine exploring this beautiful city with sampling local wines and food against the backdrop of the city’s magnificent cathedral. And to top it off, here’s the ultimate accommodation for any wine lover: in the vineyards above the Black Forest village of Sasbachwalden five former wine-barrels, which each once held 2,000 gallons of wine, have been transformed into comfortable places to spend the night. They are located on the Wild family holiday farm, a thousand feet up, and provide glorious views over vines and mountains.