German Wine Road(s)
German wine might not have the same reputation as French wines do, but some of the best whites are made there. Considering the Baden wine region's closeness to France, this sunny area on the other side of the Rhine with volcanic origins is perfectly situated for wine making.
There are actually quite a few official wine roads in Germany. My trip report covers two of them:
This trip can be done in less than one week or more than two weeks - depending on how long you want to linger in the vineyards. You can also pick one or two hotels if you are on a Europe-trip, maybe on your way from Frankfurt airport to France, Switzerland, Spain or just to pick up your German sports car in Stuttgart - a detour to the wineries will be worth it (but don't drink and drive).
- Hotel Die Hirschgasse Heidelberg (SLH)
- Hotel Ketschauer Hof (SLH)
- Hotel Ritter Durbach
- Hotel Schwarzer Adler (SLH)
You can jump to the hotel review by clicking on the links above.
I'd like to point out some of the great wineries along the wine roads. I did not visit all of them yet, but they have the best rating at the Gault&Millau wine guide in this area, so I put them on my map to visit later.
- Weingut H. Dönnhoff - Oberhausen an der Nahe - Region: Nahe - 5/5 Grapes
- Weingut Knipser - Laumersheim - Region: Nahe - 5/5 Grapes
- Weingut Geheimer Rat Dr. von Bassermann-Jordan - Deidesheim - Region: Nahe - 4/5 Grapes - 85 CT-Points (it's directly opposite to the hotel Ketschauer Hof)
- Ökonomierat Rebholz - Siebeldingen - Region: Nahe - 5/5 Grapes
- Weingut Andreas Laible - Durbach - Region: Baden - 4/5 Grapes
- Gräflich Wolff Metternich'sches Weingut - Durbach - Region: Baden - 2/5 Grapes - 75 CT-Points (next to Hotel Ritter Durbach)
- Weingut Bernhard Huber - Malterdingen - Region: Baden - 5/5 Grapes
- Weingut Salwey - Oberrotweil am Kaiserstuhl - Region: Baden - 4/5 Grapes
- Weingut Bercher - Vogtsburg am Kaiserstuhl - Region: Baden - 4/5 Grapes
- Weingut Franz Keller Schwarzer Adler - Vogtsburg am Kaiserstuhl - Region: Baden - 3/5 Grapes - 90 CT-Points (it's the winery of the hotel Schwarzer Adler Estate)
- Weingut Dr. Heger - Ihringen - Region: Baden - 4/5 Grapes - 95 CT-Points
I added my rating (CT-Points) to those wineries where I tried several wines myself. The Gault&Millau wine guide rates wineries with grapes - five grapes are the best of the best.
1. Begin in Heidelberg - die Hirschgasse
Tourists from the far East or West have usually only a few stops in Germany on a Europe trip: Schloss Neuschwanstein, Berlin, Frankfurt (if only for the airport) and Heidelberg. It has a beautiful old town with a castle on the hill and one of the oldest universities in Europe.
And being not too far from the largest airport in Germany, Frankfurt, it is an ideal starting point for a vacation on the continent.
It also has two SLH hotels, one is the Heidelberg Suites Boutique Hotel and the other is where I stayed on this trip: Die Hirschgasse. Both are on the other side of the river Neckar with views on the castle and the old bridge to the city center.
This old hotel has history and you can feel it. It is connected to student unions who held so called Mensuren here. Carvings on the table in the restaurant tell stories of past sessions.
Mark Twain wrote about this hotel when he stayed there in 1878 to witness a Mensur. You can read about it in "Bummel durch Europa".
The rooms are all very individual suites. We had one with Laura Ashley-style - flowers everywhere. There are slightly different styles in the other suites, but they follow a similar theme. Meaning: you won't find a suite with slick Scandinavian simplicity.
We tried to book a table in the Michelin-starred restaurant, but it was already fully booked. The owner was as disappointed as we were. We just decided to eat at the less formal restaurant. And it was really good as well. A theme you will find in all of the hotels we visited on this trip. In this area of Germany they actually know about good food (you can't say that about all parts of the country).
2. Into the vineyards - Ketschauer Hof, Deidesheim
From Heidelberg you can explore the two German wine regions of Baden and Nahe. On my trip, I went westward to the Nahe region first. I recommend a detour to the medieval city of Speyer and see the famous dome from the 11th-century. Many German kings and emperors were buried here.
The village of Deidesheim is amidst the wine hills of the Nahe wine area, a few kilometres northwest of Speyer. There are some nice little hotels here and one of those is the Ketschauer Hof. A small estate-like complex next to the winery of Bassermann Jordan in the village, this SLH property is a quiet, understated boutique hotel with modern rooms and good service.
It's a little less personal than other boutique hotels, since the owners didn't greet us or said hello. This is what happens regularly at other good SLH hotels and also what I really like about them. Other than that it was flawless.
Weingut Geheimer Rat Dr. von Bassermann-Jordan - Deidesheim - Region: Nahe - 4/5 Grapes - 85 CT-Points (it's directly opposite to the hotel)
3. Further South - Hotel Ritter Durbach
From Deidesheim we leave the first wine road, the Nahe Wine Route, to drive further South until we reach the Baden wine area where we stop in Durbach. Another quietly situated village where everything stands in the name of the wine.
Ritter Durbach is quite a special hotel (it should definitely be part of SLH, if I were to decide). If you have read my other blog posts you probably already stumbled upon my sentiment that I like it when hotels embrace their locality and traditions, but bring something new to the table at the same time. This is all true for Hotel Ritter Durbach. They embrace wine, good food (a Michelin-starred restaurant), personal and friendly service, classic cars for rent to drive through wine country and having an old-style picnic. This is what I want when visiting a wine area. The owners nailed it here and you can see their passion for being a host to their home when you meet them.
|Hotel||Hotel Ritter Durbach|
Gräflich Wolff Metternich'sches Weingut - Durbach - Region: Baden - 2/5 Grapes - 75 CT-Points (next to Hotel Ritter Durbach)
4. Beautiful Kaiserstuhl - Hotel Schwarzer Adler
From Durbach you will be driving southwest until close to the French border, not far from Colmar, into a hill country with wineries all around - the so called Kaiserstuhl.
Made by volcanoes, the wines from this hill country are really exceptional.
This hotel has a main building, which is still in its historical state, where some rooms are located. My room, though, was located in a modern house nearby. Additionally, the winery of the hotel, Franz Keller, is situated a little further away on the foot of the vineyards. And this winery is a stunner. Super modern architecture made of concrete and glass and tastefully combined with wood and built into the mountain hidden under grass. There is the winery, a (little) less formal restaurant (KellerWirtschaft) and a wine shop.
The room in the modern building near the main house was large, bright and tastefully furnished.
I can highly recommend the fine dining restaurant, awarded with one Michelin star. Great value for money (140 EUR for five courses and accompanying wines for every course) and just fantastic cooking. Even though I ordered the pre-selected wines, I still took a chance to browse through the huge wine menu. Really impressive selection.
|Hotel||Hotel Schwarzer Adler Estate|
Weingut Franz Keller Schwarzer Adler - Vogtsburg am Kaiserstuhl - Region: Baden - 3/5 Grapes - 90 CT-Points (it's the winery of the hotel Schwarzer Adler Estate)
Winery Dr. Heger
I want to point out one winery in the Kaiserstuhl where I bought wine on the trip. Dr. Heger is great with red wines, which is unusual for this area. The whites are award-winning as well.
This was quite a long trip report, but I hope some of you made it down to here. Looking at my ratings for the four hotels, if you had to choose one or two hotels, I would definitely go with Ritter Durbach or Schwarzer Adler. They just were a tad better than their counterparts in the Ahe Region. That's not to say that #1 and #2 were bad hotels, it's really just complaining on a very high level.
So, happy wine tasting!