Wine Festivals in Germany
The season kicks off with a wide selection of wine festivals. Almost every village in Germany‘s 13 wine regions crowns its own wine queen and honors the golden juice of the grape with its own street festival, mostly in summer or early autumn shortly before the harvest begins for the next vintage.
Neustadt at the German Wine Route (Neustadt an der Weinstrasse): Grape Harvest Festival
An amble round the old quarter of Neustadt a. d Weinstrasse, in the heart of the Palatinate region in south-west Germany, is an absolute pleasure with its beautifully restored medieval houses and winding lanes. Its nine surrounding wine villages, where vintners produce some of the finest drops in Germany, are equally appealing and buzzing with activity.
High above the woodland and vineyards of Neustadt itself is Hambach Castle, the cradle of German democracy, where more than 30,000 people demonstrated for national unity in 1832.
The Neustadt German Grape Harvest Festival takes place approx. the first 2 weeks in October.
Every year, several hundred thousand people descend on the town to enjoy a host of events such as the election and crowning of the German and Palatinate wine queens.
The „Haiselscher“, the festival‘s very own wine village, opens earlier approx. last September week, on the square in front of the train station. Here, visitors can wash down delicious regional specialties with wine from the outgoing season and even some exclusive vintages. Other attractions include fairground rides, entertainers and a mass public tasting of Palatinate wines in the Saalbau concert hall, organized by the region‘s Weinbruderschaft or wine fraternity.
The Palatinate wine queen is elected and crowned on the first Friday of October, followed by her nationwide equivalent on the second Friday. Entourages from numerous local wine villages and from all 13 wine regions in Germany travel to the wine capital of the country to support their candidate.
Another highlight is the German wine and sparkling wine (called ‘Sekt’ in German) tasting: on Hetzelplatz Square – to the sound of live music all day and sustained by a great choice of food – the nine wine villages that surround Neustadt an der Weinstrasse and the 13 wine-growing regions in Germany put their very best drops up for public scrutiny.
On the second Sunday in October, well over 150,000 people come to watch the biggest wine festival parade in Germany. The main attraction are the „royal“ floats that carry the freshly crowned wine queens. A firework extravaganza, which bathes the surrounding vine-clad hills in a sea of spectacular colors, marks the end of the celebrations.
The origins of the festival date back almost 100 years, when the town‘s first wine parade took place in 1909.
This served as a harvest festival for the vintners, who could reflect on a year of rewarding toil and look ahead to the new wine season.
Stuttgart Wine Festival
Stuttgart Wine Festival, held around the Old Palace, is one of the most famous of the many German wine festivals. It is on for two weeks every year at the end of August/ beginning of September. Fine wines and Swabian Maultaschen ravioli with countless different fillings, Rostbraten, Zwiebelkuchen (bacon and onion flan) and Bubenspitzle (finger-sized rolls of potato dough) transform the festival into a culinary treat.
Rüdesheim Wine Festival
Rüdesheim Wine Festival is held in the romantic market square in Rüdesheim‘s old town on the third weekend in August. Over 200 riesling and pinot noir wines and sparkling wines made by local vintners are on offer. The steep vineyards of the Rheingau have been famous for their wines for centuries.
Bad Dürkheimer ‘Wurstmarkt’ Wine Fest
It’s said to be one of the largest in the world.
The Wurstmarkt is over 570 years old and the main festival in the Palatinate. Visitors will enjoy over 150 different wines in over 50 different places ranging from the mellow Riesling to the finest ice-wine. Whether in the large wine halls or at the traditional “Schubkärchler” – small traditional wine stands with scrubbed wooden tables worn smooth over the years – the Dürkheim wine loses none of its flavor wherever you drink it. Or if you prefer to enjoy a fine wine in a more tranquil and intimate atmosphere, the Weindorf – the Wine Village – is the place for you. The Dürkheimer Wurstmarkttakes place in the heart of the Pfalz and is easy to get to by bus or rail from any direction – right around the clock!
Mid of August for approx. 3 days.
More than twenty wine growers from Rhineland-Palantine offer their products in the area between Cathedral and Town Hall.
Frankfurt’s Rheingau Wine Festival (Rheingauer Weinfest)
Approx. the first 10 days of September.
More than 600 wines and sparkling wines from the Rheingau region will be tasted at 30 vintner stands. These range from the finest wines to light and zesty summer wines, with wines from alternative grape varieties also being offered alongside the dominant Rheingau Riesling. To complement the wines and sparking wines, the Freßgass’ businesses traditionally offer refreshments at food stalls.
Wine Festival in Freyburg/Unstrut
Mid of September.
Every year on the second weekend in September, the Freyburg wine festival (the largest in central Germany) delivers first-class entertainment for young and old. More than 50 different events cater for fun and entertainment at the foot of Neuenburg Castle.
On the medieval-style street set up especially for the event, travelling players and costumed entertainers help bring history to life, while 16 vineyards present their latest gems at the wine village on market square.
Each year at 6pm, on the Friday preceding the festival, the Saale-Unstrut hospitality award is bestowed on the most deserving restaurants in the town. Then, at 10am on the Saturday, the event proper begins with a traditional „liquid brunch“ in the wine village on market square. An hour later, the grand annual wine and sparkling wine tasting gets underway in the inner courtyard of the Rotkäppchen sparkling wine plant. Later, at 10.30pm, a firework display paints the night sky above Freyburg in a sea of spectacular colours. The celebrations continue on Sunday at 11am with the coronation of the Saale-Unstrut wine queen.
Erbach’s Strawberry Wine Festival
Approx. mid of June.
The Strawberry Festival in Erbach in the Rheingau Wine Region near Frankfurt is one of the biggest and most famous festivals in this region. Wine and strawberries were being found to match perfectly together, so this festival is dedicated to the little red fruit and the good wine. Strawberry punch, music and the election for a Strawberry Queen are highlights of this event.
Wine Festival in Weimar, Thuringia
End of August the Weimar Wine Festival takes place in the city where also the famous food festival in October, the Onion Festival, takes place. For a whole weekend, Thuringia city of Goethe and Schiller transforms into one large wine tasting place, offering regional fair and the best wines from all over Germany.