For many connoisseurs, the red and white grapes grown in sunny Baden and Württemberg produce Germany’s best quality wines.
Explore SouthWest Germany’s many wine trails, from the Kaiserstuhl in the west to Lake Constance in the east, along the Tauber and Neckar valleys. Not forgetting the fun wine festivals!
The Wine Regions
In Germany, sunny SouthWest Germany is known for growing grapes and making award-winning wines: Müller-Thurgau from Tauberfranken, Pinot Noir from Lake Constance, Trollinger from Hohenlohe and Riesling from the Rems.
SouthWest Germany has two major wine-making regions. The Baden vineyards run north-south for 250 miles/400 km along the eastern bank of the River Rhine. The climate is similar to the famous French wine-making areas of Alsace, Champagne, and the Loire. The other wine-making region, Württemberg, is farther east, running to the north and south of Stuttgart. This is the only German region where red wine is the specialty.
In Baden, the main varieties are Pinot noir (Spätburgunder), pinot gris (Grauburgunder) and pinot blanc (Weissburgunder). These give the region its distinctive character. Other popular and traditional grape varieties include Müller-Thurgau, Chasselas, Riesling, and Sylvaner. But wine growers are also experimenting successfully with varieties such as Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. And Württemberg is equally varied, with two exceptions: Trollinger and Lemberger are rightly regarded as regional specialties.
What characterizes SouthWest Germany is the number of co-ops. About three-quarters of the vineyards are tended by farmers, and the same families have done so for over 100 years. The rest are private estates, often owned by members of the aristocratic Baden and Württemberg families.
SouthWest Germany’s grape varieties
SouthWest Germany is wine country and has grape varieties that are peculiar to this part of the world: Trollinger, Lemberger, Müller-Thurgau, Kerner, Pinot and so on. So, wines from this region really are special and are attracting an ever-growing fan club in Germany and around the world.
The legendary and delicious Trollinger grape
Nicknamed “Württemberg’s national drink,” Trollinger is made from the Trollinger grape, the most popular variety in the South. Late-ripening, and with a brick-red color, it goes perfectly with hearty, rustic, local dishes such as Zwiebelrostbraten (ribeye with crispy onion).
The festive and velvety Samtrot grape
The Heilbronn area is known for the Samtrot grape, a variety somewhere between black Riesling and Pinot Noir. It produces an easy-drinking red wine that is soft and velvety. And, it is the main attraction at the annual Heilbronn Wine Festival. For a Sunday meal of roast beef, Samtrot wine is the perfect accompaniment.
Riesling, the king of white wines
The best-known representative of Germany’s wine heritage, Riesling is grown throughout SouthWest Germany. Subtle and sophisticated, with a balance between high acidity and flowery aromas, this is the most complex grape variety in the world, a wine that you can drink young everyday – or, when aged, on those special occasions.
The Kerner, Württemberg’s local hero
From Swabia, the aromatic white Kerner is a cross between Trollinger and Riesling. Named after Justinus Kerner, a Swabian poet, this elegant 80-year-old variety ripens in October. As a dry or semi-dry white wine, Kerner goes well with dishes such as salads, fish or poultry.
Besens: vineyard taverns/pubs
Unique in the region are “Besens” and “Straussen.” These are special seasonal wine pubs or taverns, where you can drink the wine grown at the door, and eat homemade local dishes. The name Besen actually means broom – and a broom at the door is a sign that the pub is open for business. The Besens are in the Württemberg vineyards and the Straussen are in Baden. Either way, they are great places for good wine, good food and good company. They even have live bands playing from time to time.
Eat local: tasty treats
Every wine tavern is different, serving different wines and dishes. But all serve local wines and dishes made with local produce. Try Flammkuchen (like a bacon and onion quiche), Maultaschen (like ravioli), Zwiebelrostbraten (roast beef with crispy onions), Kässpätzle (cheesy noodles), and plates of cold cuts.
Vineyards in Baden-Württemberg
SouthWest Germany is carpeted with vineyards, from the Tauber Valley in the north to Lake Constance in the south. In a Strauss or a Besen, you can taste local wines: pinot noir (Spätburgunder), pinot gris (Grauburgunder) and pinot blanc Weissburgunder), Chasselas, Trollinger, Lemberger, Riesling, Kerner, Müller-Thurgau, and many other varieties.
Wine festivals in the South
A fun time to visit SouthWest Germany’s wine country is during one of the numerous, colorful wine festivals in towns and villages. Pure Pleasure: SouthWest Germany’s wine festivals. In Baden and Württemberg, wine festivals are as typical as dumplings or noodles. But, every event in every town and village is different. Wines and hearty snacks are inexpensive, so you will always get good value as well as lots of fun!
The classic: The Stuttgart Wine Village
Known as “Germany's most beautiful wine village,” this annual event takes place in Stuttgart, the capital of SouthWest Germany. Expect 500 wines from the region, festively-decorated wine arbors, cheerful hosts, and hearty local dishes, such roast lamb and Zwiebelkuchen (onion pie). It makes a great night out!
The Best of Heilbronn Country
Go to the annual Heilbronn Wine Village and find out what makes Heilbronn Country Germany’s No 1 red wine producing region. Wine lovers can try reds made with unfamiliar grape varieties, such as Lemberger and Samtrot, and enjoy live music in the City Hall courtyard and in the surrounding lanes of this charming half-timbered town.
Off the beaten track
Apart from the major wine festivals in towns and cities, such as Stuttgart and Heilbronn, virtually every small town has its own wine festival. Check out the Wine Weeks in the Buhl Valley, the Öchsle Fest in Pforzheim and the Wine Festival in Meersburg on Lake Constance.
Haus der Baden-Württemberger Weine
SouthWest Germany’s Hotel and Restaurant Association (DEHOGA) and the wine-growers’ associations of Baden and Wuerttemberg have combined to set up a classification system for the region’s hospitality industry. Look for the Haus der Baden-Württemberger Weine logo as a guarantee of quality and service.
Stay in the Vineyards!
When you stay at a vineyard, the wine you drink was made by your host! Where better to learn about the region’s wine-making than in a wine grower’s own home? Among the vineyards and wineries in the famous wine-making areas of Baden and Württemberg, you can rent a wide selection of apartments and guest rooms.
Wine Guides and Wine Tours
A vineyard tour, a historical tour or a city tour: all provide insights into the region, thanks to knowledgeable guides.
Ortenau Wine Experience
Between Baden-Baden and Offenburg, Ortenau is a pretty part of the world, with 1,000 years of wine-making tradition. Stretching some 40 miles/60 km, it includes vine-covered hills between the Rhine Valley and the Black Forest mountains, with flower-decked towns with half-timbered houses, picturesque wine villages, castles and palaces.
Württemberg Wine Experience
Across in the Württemberg wine region, around Stuttgart and Heilbronn, the equally knowledgeable guides for the Württemberg Wine Experience offer a variety of fascinating visits and tours.