Quench your thirst for wine knowledge along these scenic vineyard trails

Photo by Karen Bradbury
Photo by Karen Bradbury

Quench your thirst for wine knowledge along these scenic vineyard trails

by Karen Bradbury
Stripes Europe

If there’s one thing we learned how to do in 2020, it’s been how to find our own fun. In the absence of fests and social gatherings to fill our free time hours, we’re learning how to concoct our own recipes for happiness. As Germany moves into autumn, the season marked by wine fests, it’s only natural to crave a glass or two of the country’s quality wines. Countless local wineries are eager to oblige, with open courtyards and simple menus of foods that pair so well with their whites, reds and roses. But before your sampling commences, here’s a wonderful way to work up a thirst: take a hike through a vineyard that’s been designated a “Weinlehrpfad.”

A Weinlehrpfad (educational wine trail) is a path through a vineyard that’s been painstakingly signposted in order to make the hike not only fun but an educational experience too. The signage might tell about the terroir and the geological forces that shaped the region, the history of winemaking in the vicinity or the types of grapes that grow in the surrounding vineyards. Each trail has its own particular emphasis, and you can be fairly certain they will also offer some pretty spectacular views along the way. Granted, the signage may be written in a language you might have yet to master, but with the wonders of instant translation apps on phones these days, the language barrier is easily surmounted. There’s no cost associated with rambling along these scenic paths, so why not pack a picnic, grab a bottle of wine from a local maker and make a day of it?

Here are just a few “Weinlehrpfade” presented according to the wine regions to which they belong:

Ahr

Weinbaulehrpfad Ahrweiler: 12 miles south of Bonn is found this wine region famous for its reds, particularly its Spätburgunder. This trail running between Ahrweiler and Walporzheim is around 2.5 miles long, and its copious signage informs of grape varieties, the work of the winemaker and local history. Your starting point is the info board at the intersection of Adenbachhutstrass and Am Weiherberg in Ahrweiler.

Franken

Würzburger Steinweinweg: In vineyards given to mostly Silvaners and Riesling, this 2.5 mile trail leads past 25 large signs shedding light on local winegrowing traditions, the history of Würzburg and its connection to wine. Hikers will fall for the sweeping views of the elegant city on the Main River. The trail begins at the Weingut am Stein winery, located on Mittlerer Steinbergweg 5 in Würzburg.

Hessisches Bergstrasse

Erlebnispfad Wein & Stein Heppenheim: The “Wine and Stone” path runs for about 2.5 miles in and around the half-timbered beauty of a town called Heppenheim. Large panels at 30 stops along the route inform about grape varieties, winemaking and the geology of the region. Your starting point is the vintner’s fountain on Le Chesnay Platz, Heppenheim.

Mittelrhein

Weinlehrpfad Bopparder Hamm: Along a bend in the UNESCO-listed Middle Rhine Valley, this path stretches over six miles. Along the way you’ll learn about local history, the work of the winegrower, ways in which the vineyards were organized throughout the centuries, and the varieties of grapes in your midst. Your start and end point is the large wine barrel located about one mile north of the town of Boppard.

Mosel

Pissamannweinlehrpfad: Walkers taking on this scenic stretch along the Mosel will be all the wiser thanks to 15 signs describing grape varieties, the winemaker’s work and the characteristics of the parcels of land through which they pass. The walk is about four miles long and takes two hours to complete. The starting point is the sign behind the church in Merl, which makes up part of the larger town of Zell.

Weinlehrpfad Winningen: This trail runs for approximately one mile through the Winninger Domgarten vineyards and features some 30 signs informing hikers about the cultivation of Riesling on these extremely steep slopes. The starting point is the Brückstücksweg along the L125 highway northwest of Winningen.

Nahe

Weinwanderweg Niederhausen: Hikers along this three-mile path through the Soonwald-Nahe Nature Park are rewarded with information about some of the rare plants that grow here, along with the history of cultivation of wine in the local area. Stunning views over the Nahe Valley make the exertion put into getting around this trail worth every drop of sweat. The starting point for this walk is the old schoolhouse on the end of Schulstrasse in Niederhausen, just west of Bad Münster am Stein. Download a pdf copy of the informational brochure before setting off.

Pfalz

Weinlehrpfad Edenkoben: This approximately two-mile hike starts in an idyllic village along the southern stretch of the German Wine Road. Signage informs about the climate, names of the parcels of the vineyards, types of grapes grown and facts about wine consumption through the ages. Adding context are wine barrels, presses, an old wagon and a vineyard set up in a style used locally for centuries. The trail begins from Villastrasse in Edenkoben.

Weinlehrpfad Mandelhöhe: This 1.5 mile path through the town of Maikammer gets underway from the Alsterweiler Chapel and passes a historical vineyard, water rising from a spring and signage about the types of grapes grown there. Benches with scenic views make good stops for a rest and a snack.

Schweigen-Rechtenbacher Weinlehrpfad: Having opened back in 1969, this trail has the honor of being recognized as Germany’s first-ever Weinlehrpfad, and four decades later, it remains as nice as ever. Close to the French border, this two-mile path over the Sonnenburg features many unusual sculptures. The Sonnenberghütte serves wine and tasty treats (Flammkuchen!) on the weekends through Oct. 25.

Historische Weinbergsanlage Kalmitwingert: This trail sheds light on the history of viticulture with numerous examples of the set-ups used by winemakers over the past two millennia, while the chapel atop the Kleine Kalmit mountain offers panoramic views. Begin from Arzheimer Strasse, on the northern edge of Ilbesheim.

Rheingau

Weinlehrpfad Wiesbaden-Frauenstein: In the hilly suburbs west of Wiesbaden, the grapes grow in profusion. This path passing from Schierstein to Frauenstein and back features signage about the wines and the flora and fauna of the local area. The three-mile path gets underway from the Schönstatt-Kapelle in Schierstein.

Rebenlehrpfad in Geisenheim: Two separate paths forming a figure eight can each be completed with about one hour of walking. The “Rebenlehrpfad” lacks signage, but features a good representation of all the varieties of grapes cultivated in the Rheingau region. The other loop runs along the old walls of the cemetery before taking a sharp turn upward. Your starting point is the corner of Langestrasse and Albert-Schweitzer-Strasse in Geisenheim.

Rheinhessen

Weinlehrpfad Bodenheim: Just a few miles south of Mainz is this three-mile trail that passes signage concerning 14 types of grapes that grow in these hills and the work of winemaker, both in the vineyards and in the cellar. From the trail’s highest point, hikers can take in views of the Frankfurt skyline. Your starting point is the Plattenhohl in Bodenheim, where you will be greeted by a statue of the martyred St. Alban holding his severed head.

Weinlehrpfad Guntersblum: This two-mile trail runs by some interesting geological features including tunnel-like trails carved out from the iron wheels of the wagons that passed through in centuries’ long past. In the educational vineyard, an impressive 64 different types of grapes are grown. The trail begins near the northern end of the Kellerweg in Guntersblum.

Württemberg

Esslinger Weinerlebnisweg: This two-mile path that starts and finishes at the Frauenkirche in Esslingen am Neckar features 20 stations giving insight to the local wines, the vintner’s work and the nature and geology of the region, along with picturesque views of the Neckar Valley. Download a pdf copy of the trail’s description in English before setting off.

Wein- und Rebsortenlehrpfad Horrheim: This two-mile path through the vineyards of Klosterberg in Horrheim tells you all you ever wanted to know about the local wines, explained on 23 signs, with views of the Schwäbisch Alb thrown in. Nearby are planted some 40 types of grapes, about which you’ll find information as well. The start and end point for this walk is the “Wanderparkplatz bei der neuen Kelter”, Weinsteige 33, Vaihingen-Horrheim.

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