Germany’s highlight: Franconia wine country

Germany’s highlight: Franconia wine country

by Amanda Palumbo
Stripes Europe

While many around the world associate Germany with its world-class beer and rightfully so, Deutschland is also home to some of the best wine this side of the pond. With 13 wine regions in a country that geographically could fit into Texas two times over, you don’t have to stray far to find a good glass of grapes.

A Franconian Fairytale

Franconia is a region in Germany primarily in Bavaria, though some of it spills over into Baden-Württemberg, South Thuringia and Hesse. Settlers arrived in Franconia in the Early Middle Ages and little did they know they had stumbled prime grape-growing land.

The Bocksbeutel | A staple for Franconian wine

Franconia has been producing wine for more than 1,000 years, so they’ve had ample time to hone its craft. The area has 23 square miles of rolling hills filled with picturesque vineyards. Franconia’s prime wine is a fruity, dry white wine, often in a “Bocksbeutel.” This is a unique short-necked glass bottle with a flat pot-bellied bottom. Much like everything else in Bavaria, it has a European Union protection, meaning any “Bocksbeutel” has to be certain dimensions or it’s illegal.

Good news if you’re on a budget, Franconian wine is very affordable. You can find a decent bottle anywhere from 10-20 euros. You don’t need to sacrifice taste for cost.

Vineyards near Würzburg | Photo by muamero 

Würzburg: The Franconian Wine Epicenter

As Munich is to beer, Würzburg is to wine. The area is chock-full of wineries but two stand out from the pack. The first is one of the oldest wine cellars in the world, Staatlicher Hofkeller, which translates to “State Court Cellar.” The nearly 900-year-old cellar was first mentioned in 1128 in a deed of donation from Würzburg’s bishop. Staatlicher Hofkeller gives guided, candlelit tours in its cellar, which transports you to a time nearly a millennia ago, walking along the large wooden barrels still in use today. Like most Franconian wineries, their signature dry white is what this legacy is built on, however, they do produce a number of red wines and Sekt.

Not far from Staatlicher Hofkeller is Bürgerspital Winery, which has a very interesting history. “Bürgerspital” translates to “citizen’s hospital.” The area started as a nursing home for “Christians suffering from affliction.” The vineyard came soon after to produce wine for its residents. However, the patients really enjoyed the wine and became “unruly.” The wine was then watered down. Bürgerspital now uses its winery to help fund its charity work. Roughly 750 senior citizens live on the property and I’m guessing they’re a little better at pacing themselves than its past residents. The winery gives cellar tours and has an onsite restaurant. There is also a shop where you can not only stock up on its many wines but they do put together incredible gift baskets to share the love.

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