Tasting the grape: Wine hikes & tours

Tasting the grape: Wine hikes & tours

by Jeana Coleman
Stripes Europe

Get some exercise, make friends, and learn about Germany’s wine growing industry — all while sampling some of the finest regional wines and culinary delights along the way. Tasting the grape has never been more fun than doing so while on a guided hike, a bike ride, in the back of a wagon, or while helping harvest the grapes. Read on for more details in these excellent wine-tasting excursions.

Guided wine hikes & tours

During the summer and fall winegrowing and harvest seasons, many organizations associated with the German wine and culinary industries partner together to offer public guided walking or hiking tours called Weinwanderung, along the Weinwanderwege, or wine trails, that wind their way through vineyards and villages.

There are hundreds of organized wine hikes throughout the year; some winemakers or wine clubs may offer several tours during harvest season, while some tours correspond with an annual festival.

Throughout the tour, guests may either stop at stations to sample wine and local culinary specialties, or find a wine tasting at the end of the hike. Tourists also learn interesting details about the region, such as tidbits about local history, noteworthy architecture and, of course, regional winemaking and its harvest. The hikes themselves vary from family-friendly strolls to challenging treks designated for experienced climbers.

Some winemakers and catering services also offer the opportunity to reserve private wine walks both for the individual and small groups. These are great if you are celebrating a special occasion, have guests visiting or want to share a special excursion with friends. Usually, group bookings require a minimum number of guests (15-20 persons) and a fee is charged per person.

Don’t know where to start to find a wine hike near you? We’ve highlighted some great upcoming events, as well as provided organizations who schedule seasonal hikes all year long.

Fees vary per tour; some are pay as you go, buying wine per glass and à la carte food items, while others charge all-inclusive fees covering tours, transportation and tastings. Not all tastings provide food, so you may want to pack extra snacks for your hikes. Many organizations also provide guided English tours, so inquire when making reservations.

Wine hiking the Pfalz 

Bad Durkheim is a good place to start a wine hiking experience, as it is home to the world’s largest wine festival as well as of one of the world’s largest wine barrels. The town is also situated along the Deutsche Weinstraße, Germany’s oldest and most well known wine route, highlighting vineyards of the Pfalz wine region. Several guided walks are offered throughout August and September originating from the big barrel, and English tours are available for groups of 12 or more. The fee is 18 euros per person, including a welcoming Secco, four wine tastings, water and a pretzel. Spots are limited and reservations are required. Contact Christine Freund with Erlaub die Pfalz for more information.

The Freinsheim tourism center, with offices in both Freinsheim and Kallstadt, organizes several guided wine hikes, bike tours, coach and covered wagon tours to local villages and vineyards along the Deutsche Weinstraße for both individuals and groups. They also provide bike rentals, help with local accommodations and can tailor an outing from a number of local leisure activities that incorporate wine tasting and markets.

Head to the Deutsche Weinstraße on Aug. 31 for Erlebnistag Deutsche Weinstraße. Every year, on the last Sunday in August, the 85-kilometer wine road is closed to motorized traffic, and between 300,000 to 400,000 walkers, cyclists and in-line skaters take to the route to enjoy the scenery and local wines. Winegrowers, local restaurants and wine clubs open booths all along the route, rolling out their welcome mats for guests to stop and sample.

Wine weekend along the Mosel 

Spend a weekend at a wine estate in the Mosel-Saar-Ruwer wine region. On the first day, the estate owner and winemaker takes you on an extended hike of their vineyards, where you learn about the local terrain and how it affects the wine. That evening, enjoy a specially prepared, multi-course meal perfectly paired with the estate’s wine list. The following day, explore more vineyards either by bicycle or boat. Visit the Mosel Tourism board at www.mosellandtouristik.de/en for reservations and pricing. The board also organizes several hikes and guided tours along the Moselhöhenweg on 15 designated hiking trails, including a challenging hike up the highest vineyard in Europe.

Harvest fest & fun in Rheinhessen 

The fun starts in the morning as the group leaves from Dr. Hinkel’s winery in Framersheim and heads to the vineyards. There, guests receive an intimate lesson about winemaking and the harvest and are encouraged to actively participate by helping gather the ripened grapes! Breakfast and lunch are served, and everyone heads back to the winery for a wine tasting as Dr. Hinkel explains the wine pressing process. Then, let the celebration begin; the local harvest festival kicks off in the evening. Fees are 28,50 euros (wine, food and mineral water included), or 26,50 euros if you help harvest the grapes. For more information, visit Weingut-dr-hinkel.de or call 06733 368 for reservations.

Unusual wine tours in Württemberg 

The Stuttgart Museum of Viniculture provides fun and unusual wine excursions into the vineyards of the Württemberg wine region for those who don’t feel like doing so on foot.

Why not see the vineyards from a Segway? Guests meet at the museum for a short tour of the facility. Then, everyone hops onto a Segway for a two-hour “roll” through some of Stuttgart’s most popular scenic views, including the Burial Chapel on Württemberg hill. A lovely wine tasting awaits back at the museum. Price is 75 euros, and includes the tour, tasting and admission to the museum.

Or, see the vineyards of two local wineries in a vintage bus. The tour starts at museum, and the fee is 58 euros, which includes the wine tastings, tour and museum entrance fees. For more information about these and more tours, visit Stuttgart Marketing GmbH or call them at 071–22280.

Self-guided hikes and more 

For those who love to hike but aren’t interested in a guided tour, there are plenty of mapped, designated hikes through the wine routes. Be sure to carry extra euros, as you are sure to find a winery or two along the routes open for tastings. Visit the websites in the side bar to plan your next wine hike.

Wine hikes & tours in Germany and beyond

customwalks.com
www.ahrwein.de
www.italiaoutdoorsfoodandwine.com
www.kultur-und-weinbotschafter.de
www.landau-land.de
www.mosellandtouristik.de/en
www.pfalz-aktiv-tours.de
www.weinwanderung.de
www.weinwanderung.net
www.weinwanderungen.ch

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