German Wine Route (Deutsche Weinstraße)
The 85-kilometre German Wine Route goes through the Palatinate (german: Die Pfalz) from the German Wine Gate (Deutsches Weintor) in Schweigen-Rechtenbach (French border) to Bockenheim in the north of the country since 1935.
The Dürkheim Barrel (german: Riesenfass; or in Palatine dialect, the Därgemer Fass) is a heavily visited tourist attraction on the route — with a volume of 1.7 million liters, a diameter of 13.5 meters and space for around 650 people, it is the largest barrel in the world. These days, it is used as a venue where guests can enjoy wine tasting sessions and fine dining. T
The Giant Barrel (German: Riesenfass, locally just Fass or, in the local Palatine dialect, the Därgemer Fass), is located in Bad Dürkheim in the state of Rhineland-Palatinate. Check out the Bad Dürkheim Wine Festival and other Wine Festivals in Germany
Hessian Cider Route — Frankfurt to Hanau
Covering a distance of around 40 kilometers, the Hessian Cider Route runs from Frankfurt to Hanau past idyllic half-timbered villages, traditional taverns and right through the orchards in which cider apples have been grown since the days of King Charlemagne.
He is believed to have invented Hessen‘s favorite tipple and arranged for orchards to be planted expressly for the purpose of making the drink.
Hessian cider is different from other cider in that it is not carbonated. It is an apple wine with an alcohol content of five to six per cent. It tastes dry and can be drunk neat, sweetened with a quarter of orangeade or “sour” with the same amount of mineral water.
A cycling tour along the Hessian Cider Route is especially beautiful in spring when the trees are in blossom, or in late summer just before the harvest when the fields are filled with ripe, golden yellow and red apples.
The Hessian Cider Route starts in Sachsenhausen, Frankfurt‘s legendary nightlife district on the southern banks of the River Main. It then continues through the north of Frankfurt, or more accurately the former village of Bergen-Enkheim, heading east through the fields and Enkheimer Ried conservation area to Bischofsheim.
The ‚Hessian Cider Route‘ signposts will lead your way.
The production facilities in Höhl near Hochstadt, Germany‘s largest cider factory, are evidence of the popularity that this traditional drink still enjoys today. If you get as far as Philippsruhe Castle and Hanau, the signs will direct you back along the southern banks of the Main to Frankfurt-Sachsenhausen.
Just outside the city, you can enjoy one last drink at the traditional Gerbermühle tavern, which was recently rebuilt. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe is said to have found the inspiration for his poem “Osterspaziergang” (Easter Walk) here. Naturally, you can also enjoy a variety of typical Hessian specialities: Handkäs’ mit Musik (a protein-rich cheese made from low-fat sour milk, marinated in a vinegar, oil and red onion sauce and served with rye bread).
Another popular snack served with cider is the famous Frankfurter sausage with mustard and bread.
The “Bergstrasse” region
Since Roman times the Bergstrasse region has been known for offering the perfect growing conditions for excellent wines. Spring starts earlier here than in most other German regions and it also stays warm for longer in the autumn.
With 1,500 hours of sunshine a year, almond trees and a variety of other fruits also thrive here.
The region extends from Darmstadt to Wiesloch, along the transition between the Rhine lowlands and the western edge of the Odenwald forest. The northern section is part of Hessen, while the southern section is in Baden-Württemberg.
The region‘s main attractions include Heidelberg with its castle and old quarter, the art nouveau town of Darmstadt with its famous Mathildenhöhe artists‘ colony and a string of castles on the fringes of Odenwald forest such as Frankenstein Castle, Auerbach castle and Starkenburg Castle near Heppenheim.
Picturesque historic centres such as the almost fully preserved old quarters of Heppenheim, Zwingenberg, Bensheim and Weinheim are also popular tourist highlights. Lorsch Abbey, and notably its gatehouse dating from Carolingian times, has been designated a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site.
Every two years, a very special event takes place in the “Bergstrasse” region: on one Sunday, the road from Darmstadt-Eberstadt to Heppenheim is closed to motorised traffic from 10am to 6pm and given over to cyclists, walkers and inline skaters.
The regional cuisine and “Bergstrasse” wine
On a trip to the “Bergstrasse” region you can enjoy a wealth of culinary delights, including game and trout from Odenwald forest accompanied by a good local wine. Riesling and pinot gris grapes in particular are used to produce some of the finest wines the region has to offer.
Among the main wine-growing towns are Auerbach, Bensheim and Heppenheim.
The best vineyards are situated on the often steep slopes that run down into the Rhine Valley – also a paradise for keen walkers.
Every year on 1 May, the young wine growers between Heppenheim and Zwingenberg organise the Bergstrasse Vineyards Walk.
The Bergstrasse Wine Festival is held in Bensheim as part of the Bergstrasse Spring Wine Festival.
Larger wine festivals are another good opportunity to sample wines from the Hessian Bergstrasse region that are rarely found outside the area.
Official Website Hessische Bergstraße: www.bergstraesser-wein.de