Route: From the Rheinhessen wine area to the Alsace via the German Wine Route
Looking for wine, sekt, secco, brandy or wine vinegar? Kiwi fruit, lemons, figs or chestnuts? Then the lush, diverse Palatinate region with its mediterranean climate and hospitable people is the place for you.
Rheinhessen is the largest of all wine areas in Germany and famous for its quality wines. It is no coincidence that Mainz earned the honour of being one of the “Great Wine Capitals” of the world. Spend the day in Mainz, beginning with a guided wine tour in and around Mainz and the historical town, known for its Roman history and cosy streets.
Later in the afternoon, continue on to the Palatinate, the southernmost and most varied of the wine regions. Travel south on the German Wine Route towards Bad Dürkheim, passing an ocean of vines along the way. Places of interest include Limburg Abbey, the ruins of Hardenburg Castle and the world‘s largest wine cask.
Continue onwards towards Deidesheim and enjoy dinner at the Deidesheimer Hof, where Helmut Kohl, the former German chancellor, often entertained official guests such as Margaret Thatcher and Mikhail Gorbachev. That is not all this small town has to offer; Deidesheim is part of the Cittaslow and lives by the core Cittaslow values. It also hosts wonderful events, like their cosy Christmas market. Stay overnight in one of the local towns.
In the morning drive via Neustadt to Hambach Castle, known as the "cradle of German democracy" since the Hambach Festival of 1832. Next stop is Sankt Martin for lunch in the winding streets of its listed village centre, followed by a visit to Villa Ludwigshöhe in Edenkoben, the summer residence of King LudwigI of Bavaria. Continue to Venningen and visit the Doktorenhof wine vinegar brewery.
High-quality wines that have won international awards are available from prestigious wine estates all along the route. A profusion of picture-book wine villages line the German Wine Route, with their red sandstone gateways lending a mediterranean atmosphere. One of them is sure to make the perfect place to end the day.
Set off bright and early for Annweiler and imposing Trifels Imperial Castle – whose striking fortifications date back to the Hohenstaufen and Salian eras. King Richard the Lionheart was imprisoned here in 1194.
The route takes you to Leinsweiler where the scenery becomes more mediterranean, with intensive light beaming down on inviting wine-making villages set in rolling hills. Passing Bad Klingenmünster (Landeck Castle) we continue to Bad Bergzabern, a spa resort with modern wellness facilities and a good lunch stop.
In the afternoon choose between cycling or walking in the area, visiting the German Wine Gate or venturing further into Alsace or the Vosges mountains in France. Stay overnight locally.