Wine trip in Southwest Germany
Winemakers on Tour
© TMBW, Gregor Lengler
A Roadtrip through the Vineyards around Stuttgart
Who better to show us the winegrowing country around Stuttgart than three people who produce wine themselves and have deep roots in the region? A road trip to some very special favourite spots.
When opposites come together and blend seamlessly, they create something unique. Like in Stuttgart, the vibrant big city surrounded by vineyards. Fabian Rajtschan, Stefanie Schwarz and Christoph Kern know this blend of city and winegrowing landscape very well, because it’s where they come from. As young winemakers, they are out and about in the vineyards around Stuttgart almost every day. However, the trio haven’t yet tired of the sunny slopes and the views over the city. And because Stuttgart both loves tradition and is young and modern, there’s always something new to discover there. They were on the road together for two days in a motorhome, and visited their favourite spots for us.
Stuttgart - a Wine Region with History
Cherry orchards sparkle under the midday sun and crickets chirp in the grass. Stefanie, Christoph and Fabian leave their vehicle in the hikers’ car park and walk up the last few metres of the hiking trail to Grafenberg mountain. The ten-kilometre circular hiking trail is called Himmelsweg, or Heaven’s Path, and leads past the meadows and forests in the valley of the river Rems. Hikers who follow it can learn a great number of interesting and useful things about the history of viticulture. The clement influence of the rivers Neckar and Rems and the dry, sunny late summer mean that wine-grapes have been grown in and around Stuttgart since the early Middle Ages. Old varieties such as Riesling, Trollinger, Pinot Noir and Lemberger have always been cultivated on the sun-warmed steep slopes, but new varieties like Cabernet Dorio and Acolon also thrive in the fertile soils, which here in the valley of the river Rems primarily consist of shell limestone and colourful marl. The region around Stuttgart invites you on a wine journey – and you can be particularly flexible with a motorhome, because you can plan your route spontaneously and spend the night wherever takes your fancy. There are many beautiful pitches and camp sites.
Till the horizon
Vineyards as Far as the Eye Can See
What a view! Rapt, the three young winemakers stand on the peak of Grafenberg mountain, their eyes sweeping over the vineyards and distant tree-covered hills that protrude into the cloudless sky. Their outlines are so clear that they might have been painted onto the landscape just a minute ago. There is another scenic view from Esslingen Castle, the next stop on the trio’s road trip. The grapes grow right up to the medieval fortifications that reign supreme over the former free imperial city of Esslingen on the Neckar, only a few kilometres away from Stuttgart itself. Fabian, Christoph and Stephanie stroll through the blossoming castle garden, then go down the steps into the vineyard surrounded by the ruined old city walls, from where they can see as far as the Swabian Alb.
In Fellbach, too, the next stop on their route, they could gaze at the landscape forever. “Isn’t that incredible?” says Stefanie, meaning the clouds that seem freshly scattered across the evening sky. Christoph and Fabian, standing beside her, say nothing but only nod at the view they can see from the Fellbach panorama terrace: the gaze travels over the vineyards to the big city in the Kessel valley and the Stuttgart television tower, which pierces the clouds.
Fancy Wine Machines
Traditional Viticulture Meets Modern Wine Tasting
Christoph, Fabian and Stefanie hold a rechargeable card up in front of the air-conditioned refrigerators and select perfectly chilled wines that flow straight into their glasses. Stefanie and her colleagues spend the evening of the first tour in a fashionable wine location. Sitt Wein, in the south of Stuttgart, was first opened only two years ago, but is now one of the city’s best-loved bars, mostly due to its unique concept: guests can tap their own wines from the large range – be your own sommelier! Stefanie, Fabian and Christoph stand at their bar table until the last guests have gone, eating olives, cheese and baguette, and sampling the wines.
Lunchtime the following day finds them on a sun terrace in the middle of the vineyards, with wooden tables, sunshades and trees casting shadows. It’s day two of the tour through their homeland, and Christoph, Fabian and Stefanie visit places where you can also taste the region’s traditional wine production, such as the winepress of Wirtemberg College near Untertürkheim, a district of Stuttgart. Here, in the vineyards between Untertürkheim and Rotenberg, the three young winemakers want to sample the wines made by members of the vineyard cooperative. With the tavern, the regular wine-based events and a sustainable viticulture, Wirtemberg College campaigns to preserve a living wine culture and to protect the intact winegrowing country around Stuttgart for the future – a philosophy of wine that Stefanie, Fabian and Christoph can only agree with. The trio sample the house Riesling and look at the vineyards shining in the midday sun. The approximately 12-kilometre Stuttgart Wine Hiking Trail leads past Wirtemberg College. You can hike along it to the mausoleum on Rotenberg – the last stop on the route. For now, however, the trio are heading for another destination in their motorhome. Windows open, they drive through the summer winegrowing country back to Stuttgart’s vibrant city centre. From Marienplatz in the south of the city, it’s only a few minutes’ walk to Karlshöhe. Here, in the managed beer-garden at the top of Stuttgart’s Weinberg, there is no sign of the hustle and bustle of the city, which they have a great view of from their table.
Picnic at the Burial Chapel on Württemberg Hill
Fabian gets grapes, baguettes, cheese and smoked ham out of the picnic basket and arranges everything on the blanket spread over the grass. The trio round off the tour with a picnic at the mausoleum. They’ve also brought still and sparkling wines from their own wineries with them. The grapes they are made from grow on the best hillside terrains, such as the Zuckerle in Bad Cannstatt, Stuttgart’s districts of Weinsteige and Altenberg or the Kessellage, the Stuttgart basin. Kesselliebe (basin love) is the name of the range of wines bearing Christoph’s signature. And the combination of numbers on the label of the bottle from which Fabian is pouring wine into glasses expresses his connection to his homeland: it’s the postcode of his vineyard in Feuerbach. The mausoleum is Stefanie’s favourite place. Why? “Because this place tells a story. And because you feel here that you’re a long way from anywhere”. And indeed, up here, in the meadows and vineyards around the mausoleum built by King Wilhelm I in the early 19th century to honour his dead wife, it is really calm and quiet. Yet Stuttgart is not far away. From the mausoleum, the trio gazes over the rolling winegrowing country and the city in the Neckar valley that glows silver in the evening sunlight.
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