Driving the Deutsche Weinstrasse

During my recent trip to Germany, I spent a lot of time exploring wine regions in the western part of the country.  On one memorable day, I drove most of the Deutsche Weinstrasse (German Wine Route) in the Pfalz wine region with my family.

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The Pfalz, or Palatinate in English, is Germany’s second-largest wine region.  Its warm climate makes the hillsides ideal for growing grapes, while the diversity of soil types provides the opportunity to produce quality wines.  In fact, Gault Millau recently announced that the Pfalz produces Germany’s best weissburgunder (pinot blanc) and spätburgunder (pinot noir) wines. 

The Deutsche Weinstrasse opened in 1935 as part of Germany’s effort to revitalize its wine industry.  Today the Weinstrasse is not only Germany’s oldest wine road but also its most famous.  It begins at the Deutsches Weintor, or German Wine Gate, in Schweigen-Rechtenbach and ends in Bockenheim, about 50 miles north.

We began our trip in Bad Dürkheim, a town that boasts not only the world’s biggest wine barrel (1.7 million liters) but also the world’s largest wine festival, ironically named the Wurstmarkt, or Sausage Market.  As you drive into town from the main road (B 37), you can easily find the giant barrel near a large, central parking lot.  The barrel, built in 1934, has been a wine bar since 1958.  The tourist information office is just a couple of blocks away; helpful staff members gave us a map of the Deutsche Weinstrasse and some colorful brochures about the area.

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