The German wine is the country’s oldest scenic drive. The road runs through the Rhineland Palatinate, Germany’s second largest wine growing region, and starts in the town of Bockenheim in southwest Germany then snakes through 50 miles of gorgeous wine country all the way to the French border.
Wine lovers get a great taste of the region’s 1,000-year old viniculture with pleasant stops in wine shops, tasting rooms, and many local wine festivals. Discover one of the country's top attractions, Germany's stunning Wine Road.
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 the Palatinate since 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 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 – This spa town is home to the world's biggest wine barrel, which can hold 44 million gallons of wine, but now houses a multi-level wine restaurant. In September, the town hosts the largest wine festival in the world, the Wurstmarkt.
- Hambacher Castle – This is the cradle of German democracy as the castle was the site 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 festival.
- Deidesheim - The historic Rathaus (Town Hall) holds an interesting wine museum.
- Schloss Riet - Take a cable car up to the Riet Castle where you can enjoy sweeping views of the wine region (close to Edenkoben)
- Rhodter Rosengarten - Vines in Rhodter Rosengarten are said to be 400 years old, making it the oldest vineyard in Europe still in use. Buy a bottle of Gewürztraminer and drink like the Romans did.
- Venningen - This area in the Südliche Weinstraße is famous for its traditional grape varieties from the surrounding vineyards, such as Spätburgunder, Weißburgunder, and Gewürztraminer, which 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.
Travel Tips for the German Wine Road
- Every last Sunday in August, the wine route is closed for auto 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 at a slower pace.
- The best time to take a ride on the Wine Road? Come in autumn, and enjoy the colorful foliage of the Palatinate forests and vineyards. It is also the best time for local wine and harvest festivals..
- 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 these local goods and buy some to take home.
- Not-to-miss culinary treat: Zwiebelkuchen (savory onion tart) and a glass of Federweisser in the early fall. This fruity still fermenting wine is only available for a short time.