The Saale-Unstrut quality wine region is characterised by unspoilt countryside swathed in vineyards, steep terraces, centuries-old dry-stone walls and romantic vineyard huts. The beauty of the river valleys and the landscape of terraced vineyards evokes an enchanting mediterranean charm. With its pleasant climate, specific soil type and yield regulations, and the experienced hands of its winegrowers, the region produces distinctive wines of the highest quality.
The Saale-Unstrut wine region is spread across three federal states: Saxony-Anhalt (604 hectares), Thuringia (54 hectares) and Brandenburg (7 hectares). It is home to more than 30 grape varieties, most of which are vinified to produce dry wines. At the top of the white wine list is müller-thurgau, followed by pinot blanc and silvaner. You'll also find the crisp riesling or rare chasselas on offer here. The red wines (25 per cent) such as portugieser, blauer zweigelt and pinot noir are full-bodied and fruity. Connoisseurs also rave about some of the more exotic local varieties such as kernling or andré and the rare sweet wines.
The wines that are characteristic of the Saale-Unstrut region have an elegant, softly structured and fruity bouquet with mineral nuances. Along the Saale and Unstrut rivers, broad riverside meadows give way to steep river gorges. Residual soil of shell limestone, as well as Bunter sandstone, loess loam and copper slate can be found here. These Triassic traces give the Saale-Unstrut wine its inimitable mineral notes. The wine region currently includes the Schloss Neuenburg, Thüringen and Mansfelder Seen estates, as well as four collective sites and 38 single vineyard sites.
With its balanced mix of sunshine and cool weather, the most northerly wine region at a latitude of 51 degrees has a long growing season. Most of the vineyards are south-facing, and 'islands of heat' in the river valleys form a particularly mild microclimate. The vines lie protected in the river valleys and on the neighbouring gentle slopes and steeper hillsides. With an average annual temperature of just under 10°C, the region has around 1,600 hours of sunshine a year. And with around 500mm of rainfall per annum, the Saale-Unstrut wine region is also one of Germany's driest areas.
With more than 40 private wineries, the Freyburg wine cooperative, the Kloster Pforta state winery and Rotkäppchen-Mumm sekt producers, there's plenty of opportunity to relax and enjoy the wine along the Saale-Unstrut Wine Route. For around 500 of the growers in the Saale-Unstrut wine region, the vineyards are a sideline. The majority of these, along with the farming businesses, send their grapes to the Freyburg-Unstrut wine cooperative. Here, the grapes from around 350 hectares of vineyards are pressed, matured and bottled. The fruits of their labours can then be enjoyed at a number of wine taverns and strausswirtschaften (inns where home-produced wine is sold).
The Saale-Unstrut vineyards are what give the region and its people their identity. The region is renowned for its hospitality, cheer and conviviality. Its fine wines have a revitalising effect, inspiring ideas and bringing people together from far and wide. This is part of our approach to life, which allows us to relate to the world in a particularly intensive and enjoyable way, reflecting our culture and poetry.
The river Saale flows out of the Fichtelgebirge mountains towards the Elbe, lined with castles perched on hilltops, tranquil villages and bustling towns. The 427km Saale Cycle Route offers fabulous cycling with plenty to see.
In this land of castles and sparkling sekt, Germany's northernmost wine route wends its way for around 60 kilometres through the beautiful landscape of the Saale-Unstrut region, stopping off at delightful destinations where the local wines can be sampled.