If Germany is one of the stops on your summer itinerary this year, one unbeatable cultural experience are the many wine festivals taking place throughout one of the county’s 13 wine regions.
At these festivals the spotlight shines on regional and local wines, food and entertainment. Many also feature markets for local artisans and craftspeople. From families to foodies, German wine festivals offer something for everyone, especially the experience of eating, drinking and enjoying the sultry summer the way locals do.
German wine festivals usually take place in late summer or early fall. Many of Germany’s most well-known wine growing regions are centrally located, often just a short drive from Frankfurt Airport. Germany’s public transit is an easy, reliable way to get to any of the wine festivals and safely indulge in some wine tasting. Deutsche Bahn (or German Rail) often increases its service to and from wine festival destinations for the duration of the event. There may even be a special fare for the event. Consult a ticketing agent at a train station to help you plan your journey.
Mainzer Weinmarkt – Mainz Wine Festival
One of the largest wine festivals takes place in the city of Mainz, the state capital of Rhineland-Palatinate where nearly 60 percent of German wine is produced. Just a 30-minute drive from Frankfurt, this festival attracts more than half a million visitors annually who come to sip the best vintages, enjoy culinary specialties, take their children to the fairway for a ride on the carousels, as well as to browse at the book fair and craft market. Some specialties to accompany your wine are the Spundekäs (a creamy cheese dip to be eaten with a fresh, hot pretzel) and Handkäs mit Musik (mature, handmade cheese marinated in oil, vinegar, onions and caraway seed eaten with a slice of crusty wheat bread – quite tasty, but not for the faint of palate or digestive tract).
Live music of all genres is featured nightly on several different stages throughout Mainz’s largest civic park, the Volkspark and the adjacent Rosengarten, or rose garden. Take the train to the Römisches Theater station and follow the crowds for about 5 minutes to the park. You can also take buses 62 or 63 to either the Volkspark or Rosengarten bus stops. The Mainzer Weinmarkt runs this year from 28th – 31st August and 4th – 7th September beginning at 3pm each day.
Stuttgarter Weindorf – Stuttgart Wine Village
Another of the largest wine festivals in all of Germany, the Wine Village in Stuttgart, welcomes over one million guests each year over twelve days with over 250 regional wines. The Swabians are a proud and industrious people and this is their showcase of delectable wines, mouthwatering regional specialties as well as their tremendous hospitality. Be sure to try the Maultaschen (similar to ravioli with a pork, breadcrumb and vegetable filling), the Bubenspitzle (small, blimp-shaped potato dumplings) or the Schweinshaxe (pork knuckle).
In 2008, the Wine Village Stuttgart takes place daily over two weeks, from 27th August – 7th September. To get there, walk southwest from the main train station down Königstraße and float with the masses over to the market square or Marktplatz. It is open daily from 11am to 11pm during the week and until midnight on the weekends.
Rheingauer Weinmarkt –Rheingau Wine Festival, Frankfurt
The year 2008 marks the 30th anniversary of the Rheingau Wine Festival located in the heart of Frankfurt’s pedestrian zone. This festival hosts over 300,000 visitors and boasts over 600 wines from 30+ vintners based in the Rheingau wine growing region around Frankfurt. The festival is a particularly exciting experience for foodies since it is located near the “Freßgass”, the local nickname for Grosse Bockenheimerstraße, a street well known for its many fine eating establishments and variety of restaurants.
As the focus of the Rheingau Wine Festival is primarily wine and food, there are few attractions for children. But just a short walk further, you’ll find the High Street shopping district, the Zeil. From the main train station, take the U-Bahn or underground to the stop Opernplatz, or walk there heading northeast on the Mainzer Landstraße for about 10-15 minutes. One of the longest running of all German wine festivals, the Rheingau Wine Festival is on daily from 3rd August to 12th September 2008, 11am to 11pm and weekends until midnight.
If you aren’t stopping in or around Frankfurt or Stuttgart, talk to your hosts or travel agent. Wine festivals take place in even the tiniest of villages throughout the wine growing regions in Germany. Many cities, towns and villages celebrate at least one local summer festival if not more, even if is not a wine region. Regardless of where you go in the country, join the locals for a truly tasty and unique cultural experience.
Photo of Stuttgart Wine Festival originally posted by alexeya