The German wine road through the Rhineland Palatinate is the country’s oldest scenic drive. It starts in the town of Bockenheim in the southwest of Germany, then runs along 50 miles of wine country. This is Germany’s second largest wine growing region and reaches all the way to the French border.
Snaking through vineyards, wine villages and the hills of the Palatinate Forest, you’ll get a great taste of the region’s 1000-year old viniculture.
Along the way, you can stop in wine shops, tasting rooms, and visit local wine festivals.
History of the German Wine Road
The Palatinate wine region is blessed with a mild, Mediterranean climate. Thanks to its abundance of sunny days, exotic fruits like figs, lemons, and kiwis are cultivated here – a rarity for Germany. In spring, the Palatinate countryside is ablaze with the pink and white colors of thousands of blossoming almond trees.
A drive along the German wine road is also a trip back in time. Alongside medieval castles, half timbered houses and century old abbeys, you'll find traces of even earlier epochs. Vines have been imported to Palatinate in Roman times, and ruins of Roman wine cellars and old taverns are vivid reminders of that legacy.
Towns and Villages on the German Wine Road
One of the most charming parts of the German wine road are the quaint old towns and villages you will pass on your drive.
Take your time to explore their historic market squares, old world restaurants and narrow cobble stone streets. Soak up some local flavor at open-air farmer’s markets and wine festivals, which are celebrated throughout late spring, summer and fall.
German Wine Road Highlights:
Bad Dürkheim – The spa resort is home to the world's biggest wine barrel, which can hold 44 million gallons of wine; It has been transformed into a multi-level wine restaurant. In September, the town also hosts the largest wine festival in the world, the Wurstmarkt.
Hambacher Castle – The cradle of German democracy as the castle was the venue of the Hambacher Fest, a German national democratic festival celebrated in 1832. Still on exhibit is the original first flag which was hand woven for the Hambacher Fest.
Deidesheim - The historic Town Hall houses an interesting wine museum.
Rietcastle - Take a cable car up to the Rietcastle, where you can enjoy sweeping views of the wine region (close to Edenkoben)
Traminer - 300-year old vineyard, the oldest vineyard in Europe still in use
Venningen - Traditional grape varieties from the surrounding vineyards, such as Spätburgunder, Weißburgunder, and Gewürztraminer, are made into vinegar at Estate Doktorenhof
Recommended German Wine Road Route
Start your drive in Bockenheim, which is famous for its regional literature contests. Follow the yellow signposts that say Deutsche Weinstrasse.
- Visitors from outside of the country may arrive at Frankfurt's airport. The starting point, Bockenheim, is just 62 miles south of Frankfurt and the city offers plenty of rental car opportunities.
- From here, the German Wine Road passes through the towns of Gruenstadt, Bad Duerkheim, Deidesheim, Neustadt an der Weinstrasse, Edenkoben, Bad Bergzabern, and many small villages. Take your pick and stop where looks interesting. Rest assured that they are all lovely.
- End your travels at Schweigen, close to the French border. Or, if you want to drink on, continue your drive along the Alsace wine route in France.
- See a map of the German Wine Road
Travel Tips for the German Wine Road
Every last Sunday in August, the wine route is closed for traffic and only open to walkers, hikers, bikers, and inline skaters who visit the seasonal open-air wine bars along the way. While this is a horrible time for a scenic drive, it is a spectacular time to visit.
Many wineries offer bed and breakfast under the name of Pension. Look out for the signs that say Zimmer frei ("vacancy")
You’ll see many small stalls at the side of the road selling wine, flowers, and local produce. Make sure to stop and sample some goodies.
Not-to-miss culinary treat: Zwiebelkuchen – a savory onion tart, and a glass of Federweisser, a fruity white wine that is still fermenting.
See Photos of the German Wine Road