"This is where Germany starts to become Italy!" cried Emperor Joseph II of Austria as he travelled through the Bergstrasse region – for here, on the western fringes of the Odenwald forest, spring starts earlier than anywhere else in Germany. The Hessische Bergstrasse region is divided into two areas from the town of Gross-Umstadt on the northern edge of the Odenwald forest to the Starkenburg region with its three wine-growing areas of Auerbacher Rott, Bensheimer Wolfsmagen and Heppenheimer Schlossberg. A wonderful walking trail runs right through the heart of this vineyard region. With around 40 hectares of vineyards, the Hessische Bergstrasse is one of Germany's smallest wine regions. Because of the ideal growing conditions, however, it produces a great variety of mainly dry and medium dry wines.