Baden is a remarkable wine region. Shielded by the Odenwald hills and the Black Forest on one side and the Vosges mountains on the other, it enjoys the sunniest and warmest climate in Germany, with temperatures that are almost mediterranean. This balmy climate and fertile soil have given rise to some of the best vineyards in Europe. Outstanding wines, delicious food and a warm welcome are the hallmarks of the Baden experience. The region is a magnet for those with refined tastes.
Baden is the third-largest wine region in Germany. 40 per cent of its vineyards are planted with red wine grapes, with pinot noir the most popular variety. The remaining 60 per cent grow white wine grapes. More than half of all German pinot noirs are produced in the region, which makes it one of the world's leading producers of the wine. Baden is the land of the pinots: the majority of its vineyards cultivate pinot noir, pinot gris or pinot blanc varieties. Great importance is also attached to white wines made from riesling and müller-thurgau grapes, while chasselas is a Badensian speciality.
Baden and its nine wine-growing areas occupy a narrow belt of countryside that extends 400 kilometres from Lake Constance in the south to the Tauberfranken vineyards in the north. The region stretches out over a rich variety of landscapes, which is reflected in the diverse soil compositions: the heat-retaining morainic gravel, chalk, clay and marl from the Tertiary period, massive loess deposits, volcanic minerals, weathered granite, shell limestone and sandstone. The rich diversity of soils carries through to the wine itself and makes the Baden region especially exciting for connoisseurs.
Baden is the greenhouse of Germany, the warmest and sunniest of all its regions. But the grapes enjoy plenty of summer rain as well, courtesy of the clouds that build up between the Black Forest mountains. Few other wine regions in the world can boast such a favourable combination of warmth, sunshine and rainfall. These help the grapes to extract the goodness from their vines and form the wonderful natural sugars that bring out the flavours – exactly what you need to produce high-quality wines.
Most family-run vineyards in the Baden region belong to a cooperative that produces wine from their grapes in accordance with strict quality criteria. 77 of these cooperatives produce 80 per cent of Badensian wines. But there are still 400 independent wineries that make their own high-quality wines and market them privately, adding to the incredible variety of Badensian wines and raising the kudos enjoyed by the region. In each of the nine wine-growing areas, the microclimates that result from the greatly varying landscapes influence the character of the individual wines.
Blessed by charming countryside and a near mediterranean climate, it's no surprise that people in the Baden wine region have such a sunny disposition. Locals are warm and friendly, and they know how to enjoy themselves. That's good news for visitors too: the region is famous for its joie de vivre. Nowhere else in Germany are there so many Michelin-starred restaurants, but even those establishments that have not won awards are excellent examples of the Badensians' passion for pleasure.
The Baden Asparagus Route certainly lives up to its name, as seasoned connoisseurs are well aware, and it now has mecca status for the asparagus elite. Covering almost 136 kilometres, the route runs from the 'asparagus capital' of Schwetzingen to Scherzheim, via Reilingen, Karlsruhe and Rastatt.