SouthWest Germany, the federal state of Baden-Württemberg, combines two historic kingdoms: Baden and Württemberg. Both have long, proud winegrowing traditions; both were long-time competitors when it came to the best reds or whites. But today, historic rivalries have been replaced by co-operation. Under the banner of Weinsüden, Wines of the South, winemakers in regions, such as the Kraichgau, the Taubertal valley and along Lake Constance are still rivals but also good friends, ignoring the old border that once separated their ancestors. Here are some of their stories…
Oberderdingen: Half in Baden, half in Württemberg
An hour northwest of Stuttgart, the charming town of Oberderdingen straddles the River Kraich on the border between Baden and Württemberg. Bunches of grapes on the town’s coat of arms recall the long tradition of winemaking. Legend has it that during the Thirty Years War, when imperial troops threatened to ransack the town, the priest opened his cellar to the soldiers. They enjoyed the wines and left the town in peace. What better recognition of the quality of the Oberderdingen wine? Or so the story goes. That was 300 years ago, when the idea of grapes from Baden and Württemberg being pressed in the same winery was unthinkable. Today, Oberderdingen wine is still highly rated, with winemakers cultivating vineyards on both sides of the ‘old’ border.
Oberderdingen is the only village on BOTH the Baden Wine Route (www.badische-weinstrasse.de ) and the Württemberg Wine Route (www.weinwege-wuerttemberg.de). New from 2020 is the beautiful Baden Wine Cycle Path (www.badische-weinstrasse.de/Entdecken/Badischer-Weinradweg).
Weingut Lutz, Oberderdingen: Eat, drink and stay in a classic wine tavern
Winemaker Manuel Lutz is the fourth generation of his family to run Oberderdingen’s Weingut Lutz, the Lutz Winery. With 7 ha/17 acres in the Baden district and 10 ha/25 acres in Württemberg, Manuel criss-crosses the old border every day. Grapes mainly for white wine are in Baden’s Kraichgau hills; grapes for red wine grow in Württemberg’s Stromberg hills. For an authentic ‘vineyard experience’, stay in the ancient Weingut Lutz inn; eat and drink in its typical tavern. Learn about the region’s wines and history on a fun ‘Cross-border Bus Tour’ in the Weingut Lutz’ vintage bus.
Kürnbach: Where Hesse meets Baden meets Württemberg
German history is complicated and border towns often changed hands. Take Kürnbach, five minutes from Oberderdingen. Over the centuries, this pretty winegrowing community has been ruled by different neighbours: Hesse, Württemberg and Baden. At times, they even had two mayors, two registry offices and even two wine presses. The Hessenkelter took grapes from Hesse vineyards; the Badische Kelter was for Baden grapes. Dating from the 18th century, these two half-timbered buildings still stand. See them on special wine walks, tours and tastings. The town is famous for growing high-quality Schwarzriesling (Pinot Meunier) grapes.
Kürnbach: The Cross-border Commuter Blend
The Grahm family turned necessity into a virtue. When administrative changes ‘moved’ their vineyards from Baden to Württemberg, their grapes were no longer allowed to be processed in their local Baden Cooperative. What to do? They created a ‘cross-border’ red-wine blend: Grenzgänger, or Cross-border Commuter. But, this cuvée cannot have the usual location description, so is labelled merely as Deutscher Wein, German wine. But wine connoisseurs know a good wine when they taste one. And this Baden/Württemberg blend from the Grahm family’s GravinO winery gets high marks! Discover more when you visit, taste and tour.
Kraichgau-Stromberg Wine Route: One tasting after another
An hour northwest of Stuttgart, Baden and Württemberg rub shoulders in the photogenic winegrowing region called Kraichgau-Stromberg. For centuries, vineyards have shaped both the landscape and the communities in the ‘Land of 1,000 Hills’. The Kraichgau-Stromberg wine route stretches 355 km/220 miles between the Rhine and the Neckar valleys, with more than 40 picture-pretty wine villages on both sides of the former winegrowing ‘border’. All provide temptations to stop, stroll and taste.
The Taubertal Valley: One river, three wine regions
See for yourself why the valley of the River Tauber is nicknamed the Liebliches Taubertal, the Lovely Tauber Valley. As it runs from the Bavarian border to join the River Main, the Tauber winds through three different winegrowing areas. Württemberg vines grow in the southern Taubertal, around Creglingen and Weikersheim. A few miles further north, Tauberfranken is the northernmost wine region in Baden. And then there is the Franconian wine region, on the Bavarian side of the river. Today’s co-operation recognizes that borders between the three are blurred even more than elsewhere. For example, the traditional Franconian Bocksbeutel, the medieval-style, flask-shaped bottle, is also used on the Baden side of the river. The Tauber Valley is 90 minutes northeast of Stuttgart.
Lake Constance: Where Württemberg and Bavarian vineyards meet
In the south, Baden and Württemberg meet where sunny vineyards overlook Lake Constance. Baden vines grow around Meersburg. But to the east of Friedrichshafen, things are more complicated. Around Kressbronn is an area designated Württembergischer Bodensee, or Württemberg Lake Constance. Similarly, around Nonnenhorn, Wasserburg and Lindau is Bayerischer Bodensee, or Bavarian Lake Constance. Not surprisingly, the labels of wines in these Bavarian winegrowing towns reflect their cross-border origins. If you see Bereich Bayerischer Bodensee/Anbaugebiet Württemberg that signifies the wine is from Bavarian Lake Constance, grown in Württemberg. Now you know!
Food & Drink: Look for brooms and bouquets
One of the most authentic experiences in SouthWest Germany is stopping in winegrowing areas for a drink and a meal in informal ‘pop-up pubs’. In Württemberg, they are called Besenwirtschaften; in Baden, Strausswirtschaften. And they were around long before modern ‘pop-ups’ became trendy! What makes them special is that they open for only a few weeks in spring and autumn and they must be operated by the winegrowers themselves. Many are in rustic barns, cellars or even garages. How to find them? In Württemberg, look for a witch-like broom (a Besen in German) on a house or beside the road. In Baden, the ‘sign’ is a bunch of flowers (Strauss). The wine is straight from the vineyard; the food features local produce. Think sausage, ravioli-like Maultaschen and onion pie: delicious!
Wines of the SouthWest: Germany’s highest vineyards!
Germany’s highest vineyards are in Württemberg and Baden. On Hohentwiel, a rugged rocky outcrop near Lake Constance in Baden, the vines grow at 562 m/1,850 ft. In Württemberg, look down from Hohenneuffen Castle and you see rows of vines that climb the hillside to about 527 m/1,730 ft. They love SouthWest Germany’s sunshine and friendly climate!
Wine Hotels: The perfect nightcap
Wine Hotels: SouthWest Germany’s official seal of approval
Enjoying a glass of excellent local wine is a must for visitors to SouthWest Germany. Even better is taking a wine-themed holiday in the unspoiled countryside between Lake Constance and the Taubertal Valley. Explore the vineyards and villages; meet the winegrowers and winemakers themselves; learn about wine heritage and traditions. And stay in comfortable hotels with special wine connections. Some 40 hotels carry the seal of approval: ‘Recommended Wine Hotels’ (Empfohlene Weinhotels). This means that they have been inspected by, and met the standards of, SouthWest Germany’s tourist board.
Appealing to all budgets, the accommodation ranges from simple country inns to luxury hotels in the five-star superior category. The most important factor, however, is not just comfort, but rather a love and knowledge of wine. As well as offering an extensive selection of regional wines, the establishments are expected to feature regular wine tastings and wine events for guests. The locations? Some are in towns, others are surrounded by vineyards; a few have wineries attached. All have a wine expert on the staff, who is trained to give advice and answer any wine tourism questions.
Find information on SouthWest Germany’s "Recommended Wine Hotels”: