Germany’s culinary hiking days serve wine with a view
The grapes on the vine that turn into the wine in our glasses do best under certain growing conditions. In northern climes, they thrive on sunny slopes near bodies of water that reflect the rays of the sun. What’s pleasing to the grape is also easy on the human eye, making vineyards natural playgrounds with sweeping vistas.
In Germany, the opportunity to commune with vineyards exists in the form of countless wine and culinary hikes popping up on the agendas of wine-growing regions from April to October. Although each walk has its own individual twist, they tend to follow a certain pattern. The starting point is the place to purchase an event wine glass holder to wear around the neck, a map and perhaps a coupon to be redeemed for a glass of wine or entry into a prize drawing.
Next, it’s off into the hills, where vintners stand selling wines from past harvests. You can generally find a variety of foods en route as well, from specialty game-meat sausages to luscious fruit-filled cakes. In general, dogs are welcome and the paths are suitable for strollers, but it’s always wise to check on a walk’s specific conditions before setting out. Entertainment along the route might consist of a local band playing country western tunes or a jumpy castle for the kids. Distances vary wildly; some are just modest strolls while others offer true workouts across steep terrain.
The walks aren’t without their drawbacks. A gorgeous sunny day can lead to such a turnout that you find yourself spending more time waiting in line for food and drink than walking. At some stands you might need to queue twice; once for a voucher and a second time to redeem it. Toward the end of the day, some vendors might run out of whatever treats they’re peddling altogether. Long lines to use a rare porta-potty aren’t much fun either.
Things handy to have along on your day out might include a blanket to sit on, water, sunscreen, binoculars, napkins and snacks such as chips, nuts or cheese cubes.
The moderate fee you’ll pay for your starter pack helps offset organizational costs such as the setting up of temporary infrastructure, the presence of emergency services, parking attendants or the other little things that ensure a seamless day out.
Weinwanderung makes a wonderful resource for discovering walks in your region.
Some upcoming walks on the agenda include:
Obertürkheim: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. May 10; Weinwandertag; Weinmanufaktur Untertürkheim; two-mile stretch with four stands; no steps; start at Obertürkheim train station.
Baden-Baden-Neuweier: 9:30 a.m.-2p.m. (start time) May 13, Weinwandertag, five miles, start and finish is Baden-Badener Winzergenossenschaft, Mauerbergerstr. 32. Esslingen: from 11 a.m. May 13; Weinwandertag, start is Frauenkirche. Hedelfingen-Rohracker: from 11 a.m. May 13; Weinwandertag; start is Emma-Reichle-Heim and finish at Kelter Hedelfingen. Uhlbach: from 2 p.m. June 9 or from 11 a.m. June 10; Weinwandertag; 2.5 mile stretch with four stands, start at Ulbach Rathaus.
Oberheimbach: from 11 a.m. June 10; Reblauswandertag, four-mile stretch with six stands; shuttle service between the train station and hiking area.
Winningen: May 20, Steillagenfest, one mile stretch with 12 stands. Zell: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. May 20, Kulinarische Pfingst-Wein-Wanderung, six-mile stretch with many stations; runs along the Marienberg.
Langenlosheim: 11 a.m.-6 p.m. June 2-3; Weinwanderwochenende, three stands, start at Waldstrasse.
Herxheim am Berg: from 10:30 a.m. May 19-21, Kulinarische Wanderung, 2.5 mile stretch with nine stands, start from train station. Erpolzheim: from 11 a.m. May 26-27; Kulinarische Wanderung, four-mile stretch with 16 stands, start from train station. Grünstadt: from 10 a.m. June 2-3; Weinbergswanderung Höllenpfad, 3.5 mile stretch with nine stands, shuttle bus service available from train station to start point; glass and coupon for tasting one wine at each stand costs 17 euros. Kapellen-Druisweiler: from 11 a.m. June 17; Kapellener Rosenwandertag, three-mile stretch with 11 stands, start at Pfaffenhohl; shuttle bus available.
Mainz-Ebersheim: 11 a.m.-7 p.m. May 20, Weinwanderung, four-mile stretch with 13 wineries represented, take Mainz city bus 66 or 67 to “Neugasse;” a wine pass costs 15 euros. Nierstein: from 11 a.m. June 9 and 10, Weinpräsentation am Roten Hang, short stretch with six stands, start is a 10-minute walk from the train station.