German Wine Route or the Deutsche Weinstraße – Germany’s Oldest Scenic Wine Route:
Germany’s first scenic wine route is still its most famous. Established in 1935, the German Wine Route “Deutsche Weinstrasse” is only 85 km long, but is packed with history, culture, magnificent scenery and endless stretches of vineyards.
The route traverses the Palatinate region of Rhineland-Palatinate, which is the second largest wine growing area in Germany. It is also one of the most beautiful parts of the country.
The German Wine Route runs from Bockenheim (close to Worm) in the north to Schweigen-Rechtenbach (near the French border) in the south. The Deutsche Weintor, an imposing sandstone ceremonial gatehouse in Schweigen-Rechtenbach, marks the start of the route at its southern point. In reality, it doesn’t matter in which direction you start as there is so much to see and do here, including wine-tasting, that you’re more than likely travel the route in both directions.
From March to October, the German Wine Route is a hive of activity. Starting with Mandelblütenfest (Almond Blossom Festival) in Gimmeldingen in March, open-air wine festivals take place along the route during this period. Some of the more important ones are the Deutsches Weinlesefest (German Wine Harvesting Festival) in Neustadt an der Weinstraße, the Freinshiem Stadtmauerfest in July, the Wurstmarkt in Bad Dürkheim and the Deidesheimer Weinkerwe in August.
The last Sunday in August is Erlebnistag Deutsche Weinstraße (German Wine Route Day). The route is closed to motor vehicles on this day and the wineries and open air wine bars are set up for the thousands of hikers, cyclists and even inline skaters who visit the festival.
Some of the highlight towns and attractions along the Route include:
- Bockenheim - Stop at St. Lambert’s Church to give thanks to Our Lady of the Grapes
- Bad Dürkheim - This resort is best known for its annual Wurstmarkt (sausage market) which takes place in September is also the world’s biggest wine festival – look for the giant wine barrel here. This spa town also has many cafes and wine bars and is a good place to have a break.
- Wachenheim - Check out Wachtenburg castle
- Deidesheim - See its historic town hall
- Neustadt an der Weinstraße – A beautiful old town centre with a market square surrounded by many half-timbered houses. Nearby is Hambacher Schloss. Only a ruin remains of this vast hilltop fortress. This fortress was famous for the 27 May 1832 Hambacher Fest during which students protested against the fragmentation of Germany
- Landau - See the remains of the fortress and the beautiful post-Augustinian church. Landau also has many cafes and restaurants and is a good place for a stop
- Trifels - The ruined castle here once served as a prison for important prisoners, including Richard the Lionheart, King of England
- Leinsweiler - Its hilltop Hof Neukastel was once home of Max Slevogt, a German impressionist artist. Wall paintings by the artist can still be seen here
- Bad Bergzabern – The royal castle and Petronella spa are attractions. This town also has some interesting Renaissance remains such as the Gasthaus zum Engel or Angel’s Inn
- Dorrenbach - The half-timbered town hall is this small town’s main attraction. Also an attraction is the Gothic church surrounded by fortifications
- Schweigen-Rechtenbach – German Wine Gate
If it’s the vineyards and wine tasting that you’re interested in, look out for signposts with a bunch of grapes or a wine jug.