Driving the Deutsche Weinstrasse

Bad Dürkheim lies between the Rhine, which is in a flat valley to the east, and the Haardt Mountains to the west.  Gently sloping hills surround the town.  The Deutsche Weinstrasse runs through Bad Dürkheim from north to south.  Our plan was to drive north for a short while, then turn around and head south toward the French border.

We drove up into the hills above Bad Dürkheim, hoping to find some Roman ruins we’d read about in our guidebook.  Unfortunately, we couldn’t find the road they were supposed to be on.  We did discover the small town of Kallstadt, which has half-timbered buildings and tiny, intriguing-looking side streets.  The entire countryside is planted with rows and rows and rows of wine grapes.  In autumn, the grape leaves blaze yellow, orange, red and purple, making the hillsides glow with color.

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As we about-faced and headed south on the Weinstrasse, we discovered that it can be quite difficult to stay on the road, even with the map.  The street is helpfully named “Weinstrasse,” but it winds and jogs through towns, so it’s easy to stray from the road by mistake.  A few more signs would help navigationally-impaired people like me feel less lost.  We always found our way back to the Weinstrasse, though – it isn’t too hard if you remember that the mountains lie to the west and the Rhine is east of you.

We passed through several interesting-looking towns and what seemed like hundreds of “Weinprobe” (“wine tasting”) and “Weinverkauf” (“wine sales”) signs.  This area is a wine-lover’s paradise.  You could spend a day in one town and visit several wine shops, or you could drive or bike along the Deutsche Weinstrasse and investigate two or three different villages.  The cycling route is well-marked.  It was easy to imagine dozens of cyclists jamming the narrow roads.  Between the towns, you’re surrounded by acres and acres of vineyards, punctuated by the occasional winegrower’s shed or home.

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