When I first heard about the Fruit Wine Festival held just outside of Berlin, I couldn’t wait to hear more. Then I heard more. Rowdy train rides, drunken German teens, carnival rides, but delicious and inexpensive fruit wines. I was on the fence.
By the time some friends mentioned a trip out to Werder (Havel) for Baumblütenfest, I had either forgotten my misgivings or subconsciously decided the chance for cheap, tasty fruit wines was worth the risk of getting puked on by the German populace.
In any case – I was going.
History of Baumblütenfest
Just 30 minutes away from the capital, Werder (Havel) is the site of much of the local agricultural market with local strawberries and, of course, fruit wines coming from this location. The festival began as a simple celebration all the back in 1879 with the citizens of Berlin coming to sample the fine fruit wine and cakes of the region. By 1900, the festival received over 50,000 visitors. This all changed, like so many things, during the reign of the German Democratic Republic (GDR). The festival was effectively halted as residents were not allowed to open their gardens and the sale of fruit wine was restricted. When the Berlin Wall came down in 1989, Werder again opened for business and the city folk flocked back to this idyllic farmland.
Germany’s Fruit Wine Festival
Most of Berlin and the surrounding area have the same idea as several hundred thousand visitors descend on Werder and its orchards during the event. This has been reported as Germany’s 2nd largest drinking festival after Oktoberfest.
Baumblütenfest turns this peaceful farm and fishing town on the Havel River into a full blown German fest.
Visitors arriving by train walk towards the cobble-stoned center with fruit wine booths lining the way and cross the bridge onto the island – the epicenter of the festival. The Ferris wheel presides over the rest of the island, a Fruit Wine Queen reigns and many food and wine stands can be found here. This is also the center for the teenagers and the highest concentration of Polizei (police). Though things rarely get really rowdy, don’t be put off if this is not your scene. You just need to go farther.
Continue walking across the island and admire how quiet it can be just a few streets from the bridge. Orchards line the shore and if you walk straight across the island you will find a much different vibe. Here, families congregate and the music comes from the waters lapping the shore. And don’t fret that you missed out on the best fruit wine; stands line the boulevards here as well.
Fruit Wine Translation Guide
- Apfel – Apple
- Birne - Pear
- Brombeere - Blackberry
- Erdbeere – Strawberry
- Heidelbeere – Blueberry
- Himbeeren – Raspberry
- Johannisbeere – Red Currant
- Kirsch – Cherry
- Pfirsich – Peach
- Rhabarber - Rhubarb
- Stachelbeere – Gooseberry
- Schwarze Johannisbeere – Black Currant
Visitors today can try everything from cherry to apple to currant to peach to rhubarb wine.
Prices and quality vary greatly so it’s best to shop around. Luckily, tastes and a wander throughout the town and festival are encouraged. Sample any wine that piques your interest for free and buy liters of your favorite for around €5.50 a liter, or just €1 a cup (Becher). Even the most expensive wines top out around €12 a liter!
138th Baumblütenfest Information
- When: April 29th to May 7th, 2017
- Website (German): http://www.baumbluetenfest.com/
- Festival Program: http://www.werder-havel.de/pdf/14/135_programm_baumbluetenfest.pdf
- Tourist Office: Kirchstrasse 6/7, 14542 Werder (Havel); Tel 03327-783371
- How to Reach Werder: Berlin S-Bahn runs to Werder on an ABC ticket