Europe, Germany, Travel Lists
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Incredible Ways to Experience the World of German Wines!

assmannshausen, rheingau germany

The joy is not just in drinking the wine; it is in running through the endless vineyards, feeling the leaves on your fingertips and smelling the ripening grapes… 

On my journey along the Rhine in Germany last month, I knew I’d be tasting some of the world’s finest Riesling wines. But that I’d wake up in a wine barrel, work on a vineyard, indulge in a wine massage, and sample wines traditionally made since the middle ages in a remote nunnery – I didn’t.

Take my list, go to the Rheingau region, and indulge in the surprising world of German wines:

Sleep in a wine barrel!

wine barrel room, hotel lindenwirt, wine barrel room rudesheim

My wine barrel room!

Hotel rooms are boring. So I found myself curling up inside a cozy wine barrel in the town of Rudesheim am Rhein, surrounded by the aroma of wine. These real oak wine barrels were once used in Riesling production, and after being discarded, the creative folks at Hotel Lindenwirt converted six of them into rooms, fitted with twin beds, with a lounge extension and a spacious bathroom attached behind. Definitely one of the coolest places I’ve slept in this year.

Tip: I’ve heard that these wine barrel rooms get sold out months in advance, so book early!

Also see: Awe-Inspiring (yet affordable) Airbnbs in Central America

Indulge in a wine spa

berg's assmannshausen, wine spa rheingau

Wine grape oil massage.

I loved finding deeper influences of wine, beyond drinking, in the way of life in the Rheingau. In Assmannshausen, one of my favorite little villages along the Rhine, the family-run Berg’s Auszeit (built as a horse stable in the 15th century) offers a spa with a wine bath and massages with oil extracted from wine grapes. That means you can relax not just your mind with the wine, but your body too!

Tip: Linger longer for a sumptuous meal of dukat with wine grape oil and forest mushroom crepes at Berg’s restaurant.

Hear Gregorian chanting in the wine cellar of a 12th century monastery

Kloster eberbach, wineries rheingau, rheingau germany

Walking through time in the Eberbach cellar.

Kloster Eberbach, once a Cistercian monastery, is now Germany’s largest Riesling winery! Back in the day, the monks produced wines using ancient manual wine presses, and often performed Gregorian chants. No monks live here now, but it’s possible to catch a glimpse of their lives with wine tastings and Gregorian chanting or classical music concerts in the original 12th century cellar.

Tip: See the events schedule and plan a date with Kloster Eberbach.

Also read: A Time Traveller’s Guide to Southwest Germany

Shadow a wine merchant in his vineyards

weingut rossler, lorch germany, wine merchant stay germany

Pruning in the Rossler vineyards.

What’s better than hearing about the journey of the wines you taste?
Being a part of it.

I shadowed Jacqueline and Michael, my hosts at Weingut Rossler, in their vineyards and cellar in the picturesque village of Lorch. With the gorgeous backdrop of the Rhine, we spent a warm summer morning pruning leaves to expose the grapes to more sunlight, removing weeds for the younger plants to grow and discussing the harvest a month away. It made me realize how much work and love goes into every bottle – and changed the way I see and drink my wine.

Tip: Have a conversation with your hosts when you book their beautiful guest house, so they can free up time to take you into their vineyards. 

Hike on the Rheinsteig trail

Rheinsteig hike, rhine germany, hiking rhine river germany

Walking on the Rheinsteig trail.

Read about Cheryl Strayed’s epic adventures in Wild? Hiking a short distance on the Rheinsteig trail reminded me of that book. It’s a 320 kilometer trail from Wiesbaden to Bonn in Germany, taking you through endless vineyards, ancient castles, postcard villages and dramatic scenery along the Rhine. There are guesthouses in every village along the way, offering a hikers’ breakfast and equipped to send your luggage to your next stop. I hope to go back and do it one day. You?

Tip: Try to time your hike during the fall season, when the weather is cool, the vineyards are turning color and there are wine festivals in many small villages along the way.

Also read: A Journey to A Special Place From Our Storybook Days

Let a kaleidoscopic cellar play mind games with you!

weingut allendorf, wine tasting rheingau, oestrich winkel

Colors and wine at Weingut Allendorf.

Chances are, you won’t believe me until you’ve made it to the twin towns of Oestrich-Winkel and experienced it yourself, but I’ll try anyway. The family-run Weingut Allendorf do their wine tastings differently – they don’t change the wines, they merely change the colors that it reflects. You take your glass of wine into a small studio, taste it in different colored lights, and wonder whether it’s your mind or your taste buds – believe me the wine tastes different every time! My tasting had a wine sommelier from the next town who was equally amazed, and the winery has won a prize for innovation in wine tasting. Go figure.

Tip: It’s better to fix a wine tasting at Weingut Allendorf before you go, and while you’re at it, ask to taste their divine late harvest wines.

Also read: Rudesheim Wine Festival: Sneak a Peek into Germany’s Wine Culture

Rent Queen Victoria’s favorite vineyard

Queen victoria vineyard, hochheim germany, flick family rheingau

Royal wine!

In an attempt to help you bond deeper with the wines you like, many wine growers in the Rheingau offer parts of their vineyard for rent. As a tenant, you can assist the owners in the harvest, picnic in the vineyards, help in crushing the grapes, and get your own personalized bottles of wine. Doing this in the sleepy village of Hochheim is different – because you can rent  Queen Victoria’s favorite Riesling vineyard! Its wines have been on the royal wine list since her visit in 1845, and Queen Elizabeth was the most recent royal guest.

Tip: Queen Victoria Vineyard (named in her honor) is managed by the Flick Family; you can rent part of the vineyard for 2-3 years, or just show up for a tasting.

Try late harvest wines where they were accidentally discovered

schloss johannisberg, late harvest rieslings, rheingau germany

Tasting late harvest wines at Schloss Johannisberg.

The year was 1775 and the location was Schloss Johannisberg; anxious monks awaited the much delayed harvest order, and when it finally arrived, the grapes were so acidic that they lent a wonderfully sweet flavor and aroma to the wines – voila, late harvest wines were born! Taste them in the cellar of what is Germany’s oldest winery, dating back over 900 years.

Tip: Go on a clear day to soak in the panoramic views of the Rhine Valley from the vineyards.

Also read: First Time to Europe? Travel Tips to Get You Started

Study at a wine university

geisenheim wine university, rheingau germany

Wine university in Geisenheim.

I was surprised to learn that the village of Geisenheim, along the Rhine, has an entire university dedicated to wine making and wine marketing! It’s a 4 year bachelor’s degree, involves an internship at a winery, and does some cool research work. I met a “wine queen” who is a fourth year student, and learnt that an ongoing project involves pumping a vineyard with CO2 to study the impact of climate change on wine making! Well done, Germany.

Tip: What can I say? If you love wine and haven’t enrolled in college yet, check out Geisenheim University! Most of the concentrations are offered in English for international students.

Also see: Life in Ibiza: A Photo Essay

Taste wines made by nuns

St Hildegard abbey, nunnery rheingau, nuns wine tasting rhine

The abbey of St Hildegard.

I remember walking the last stretch through the vineyards, up to the hill above Rudesheim where St Hildegard Abbey stands majestically, not sure what to expect. This is the only nunnery in Germany that has made wines since the Middle Ages, and when I entered through its old gates, it felt like entering another era. The nuns live austere lives, but that doesn’t take away from their passion for wine making. Stay a while, chat with them about their lives, and try fine Rieslings!

Tip: Make sure their wine shop is open when you plan to visit; you can do a tasting on the spot when you show up.

Have you had a different kind of experience with wine in Germany or elsewhere?

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Note: I travelled to the Rheingau as part of the #NotJustBeer campaign with the German National Tourist Board. Lucky me!

24 Comments

  1. The joy is not just running through the endless vineyards, feeling the leaves on your fingertips and smelling the ripening grapes… but it is in sipping every time the glass of wine as though it is your first sip! 😉 😉 😉

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  2. DA Travelography says

    Sleep in a barrell. Wow. Hope there was a tap inside to pour some wine as when you like 😉

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  3. S Venkataranga says

    Very well written. I suspect travel bloggers like you will prove far more effective at attracting people to a region or area than traditional advertising.

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  4. Reading this makes me so thirsty. I must have wine! Taking a wine tour in Germany is definitely on my list of “must do” things. Cheers!

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  5. Pingback: A Time Traveller’s Guide to Southwest Germany. | The Shooting Star

  6. When looking at this photos of you and the details, I really want to visit these locations. Its just beautiful…

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  7. Pingback: German Wine Festivals in 2015 – The Door into Promised Lands

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