Wines from SouthWest Germany, are among Europe’s finest and most diverse: white and red, dry and sweet, even sparkling. In the ‘Sunny Side of Germany’, think hot summer sun, picture-pretty river valleys, and endless vines, first planted here by the Romans 1,800 years ago.
Light, lively, and fruity, these award-winning wines are an essential part of a holiday in SouthWest Germany.
SouthWest Germany has two main wine areas:
BADEN is Germany’s southernmost wine region, stretching from Heidelberg to the Swiss border. Here, in the near-Mediterranean climate, 40 per cent of the vineyards are planted with red wine grapes, especially Pinot Noir.
The WÜRTTEMBERG wine region lies along the Neckar River and its tributaries, mainly north of Stuttgart. On steep slopes, the family-run vineyards are small and planted with red varieties, particularly Trollinger.
The names of the grape varieties may be unfamiliar, but half the fun of travelling in the region is to discover which ones you like best. Finding out is easy: just ask. Most people speak excellent English, love their wines, and are delighted to offer advice. Ask for “something local”: you will be agreeably surprised by the quality. Enjoy a glass after a hike, while sitting on a city square, or to accompany a snack or a fine meal.
Great Ways to enjoy Southwest Germany’s Wines
Take in a traditional wine festival
In the shadow of the magnificent cathedral, this is a showcase for some 400 local wines from Baden, both still and sparkling. Talk to wine growers and eat slices of traditional onion tart (Zwiebelkuchen). Enjoy traditional dishes in nearby historic inns.
With more than 120 stalls, this is one of Germany’s largest wine and food festivals. Lasting 12 days, it is an excuse to taste some 250 different Württemberg wines.
Surrounded by vineyards, Heilbronn’s annual “Wine Village” is one of Germany’s most authentic wine festivals. At stalls in front of the Town Hall, sip locally-made wines, nibble on pretzels and onion cakes. Wines are served in glasses decorated with the winery’s logo: You can keep them – and they make a great souvenir!
Near Stuttgart, this tourist-free local favourite serves wines relatively unknown beyond Stuttgart. They are served in a generous eight ounce glass, called a Viertel.
Spend the night – in a wine-barrel
B&Bs don’t come more fun than checking in for a night in a huge wine barrel. What once held 2,000 gallons of wine is now a comfy place to spend the night. In the vineyards above the romantic Black Forest village of Sasbachwalden, the wine barrels are on the Wild family holiday farm. A thousand feet up, the casks - and their guests - have glorious views over vines and mountains.
Drive a wine-themed route
Württemberg Wine Road (Württemberger Weinstrasse)
Starting from Weikersheim Castle, north-east of Heilbronn, this 318-mile drive wriggles through pretty valleys to Heilbronn, Stuttgart and the upper Neckar Valley, then on to Metzingen. Inns along the way serve locally-made wines.
Baden Wine Route (Badische Weinstrasse)
Starting in Baden-Baden, this 100-mile drive is just as pretty, passing the Kaiserstuhl vineyards on the way to Weil am Rhein, with more wine taverns along the way.
Explore Stuttgart’s viniculture museum
The Viniculture Museum welcomes visitors with a fascinating overview of wine-making techniques and practices from Roman times to the present-day.
Just outside of Stuttgart in Uhlbach, a picture-postcard famous wine village, there is the Viniculture Museum in the "Alte Kelter", an outstanding historical building of the former local winery. Its enthralling exhibits illustrate the more than 2.000 years’ history of wine growing in the region of Stuttgart. After a tour through history of wine making and wine drinking in Stuttgart, the visitor can sample some of the local high quality wines from this region in the museum’s cosy Weinstüble tavern.
Southwest Germany’s Grape Varieties
Matching the grape to the food
- Lemberger is fruity: good with grilled meats, Swabian-style steak and onions, pâtés
- Spätburgunder, the same as Pinot Noir, is velvety: ideal with roast and grilled meats, hearty stews
- Trollinger is fruity and light: drink it on its own, with Wurst (sausage), cheese, chicken
- Gewürztraminer is spicy: goes well with Oriental dishes, smoked fish
- Grauburgunder/Ruländer (or Pinot Gris) partners grilled fish, rich pork dishes
- Kerner (Württemberg’s own grape) is fresh: drink with poultry, seafood, pasta, veal
- Müller-Thurgau is light and flowery: perfect for vegetables, salads
- Riesling is elegant and rich, so drink it with Asian dishes, seafood, pasta
- Weissburgunder (or Pinot Blanc) goes well with lamb, pork, veal, seafood
Welcome to the Sunny Side of Germany
SouthWest Germany averages more than 1,700 hours of sunshine each year: that’s why we are the sunny side of Germany! As for the name, Baden and Württemberg were once separate states, but joined together in 1952. So, in English, we call ourselves SouthWest Germany to make it easier!
For more information
For more on Baden wines: www.badischerwein.de
For more on Württemberg wines: www.wwg.de (German only)