The easiest and most breathtaking way to explore the Palatinate wine region is along the German Wine Route. Geared towards visitors, the scenic route links numerous towns and villages associated with wine between Bockenheim in the north and Schweigen on the French border. It is the oldest route of its kind in the world, and cycle and walking trail versions of the German Wine Route allow you to explore the vineyards between the Palatinate Forest and the Rhine on foot or by bike.
Half of the Palatinate vineyards come under the Mittelhaardt German Wine Route, half find themselves in Southern Wine Route territory. The region as a whole ranks alongside the Moselle as the largest producer of riesling in the world with more than 5,000 hectares devoted to the grape. Pinots are especially prominent at the Southern Wine Route vineyards. White wines specialities include gewürztraminer and scheurebe. Around 40 per cent of the Palatinate vineyards are planted with red wine grapes, mainly dornfelder, portugieser, pinot noir and regent. As such, the Palatinate is the largest red wine region in Germany.
The rich variety of soils found in Palatinate vineyards provide the right conditions for a wide range of grapes. Around half of the terrain has Bunter sandstone as its key constituent, with high proportions of stone on the edge of the Haardt hills and sand in the somewhat lower lying terraces: conditions that make for wines with a light and elegant character. Vineyards underlaid with loess soil produce wines for everyday drinking, such as müller-thurgau and dornfelder. Those with weathered chalk soil, meanwhile, are better suited to growing full-bodied reds of the pinot variety. Rarer wines are produced from vines grown in the slate soil near Burrweiler, on the basalt rock outside Forst and on the Rotliegend sandstone by Birkweiler.
The fact that the wine festival season begins so early in the Palatinate – with the almond blossom festival in March – speaks volumes for the mild climate. But it's not just pinot noir, rieslings, figs and chestnuts that flourish here. The conditions are also right for wine grapes originally from the Mediterranean, from cabernet sauvignon and merlot to tempranillo and syrah. Only extremely rarely are harvests ruined by the frost of a harsh winter or the heat and aridity of an exceptional summer. Mother Nature has blessed the Palatinate with a generous 2,000 hours of sunshine a year and an Indian summer. Average rainfall per square metre also amounts to only 500 litres.
Tucked away between the Palatinate vineyards are more than 140 towns and villages, including the two largest wine centres in Germany, Landau and Neustadt. No fewer than 3,000 families carry out the laborious work on the vine-covered slopes, either as their main job or on a part-time basis. Many of them deliver their harvest to the nearest wine cooperative, of which the Palatinate has around two dozen. A winery might also take collection of the grapes. Half of the family-run vineyards in the Palatinate, most of which have more than ten hectares under vine, produce their own wines and sell them directly. But wherever you go, you can always find somewhere to stop off for a wine tasting.
People in the Palatinate really enjoy living out in the country or in small towns. They value the familiarity of the village communities. Everyone knows everyone else and they love to celebrate together. No town or village worth its salt gets by without a wine festival – up to 200 offer a friendly wine-themed experience. In time-honoured fashion, you sit down at long tables with the locals and drink riesling from oversized glasses.
The German Wine Route, running through the Palatinate countryside from Schweigen-Rechtenbach to Bockenheim, certainly doesn't stint on its delights. Simply follow the signs showing a bunch of grapes and enjoy 85 kilometres of pure joie de vivre, fine wines and award-winning cuisine.
The cyclists' version of the German Wine Route is rather self-explanatory by name – it runs through the Palatinate, which is one of the largest wine regions in Germany.
The Rhine is steeped in myth and legend. There are tales of heroes and dragons and of sunken treasure. True or not – who can really say?
What travellers from around the world are saying
Herrenhauser Gärten Grotto
A couple of years ago a very wealthy friend of mine, who owns an work of art by French artist Niki de St.-Phalle, told me included Hannover in a trip to Europe just to see Nikki's art in town. I had totally forgotten this until I came to Hannover and found out that Niki's works are all over the place. There are three Nanas in the Sculpture Mile downtown and an ancient grotto at the Herrenhauser Gardens was redone by Niki, who filled with her Nanas, a colorful Ganesha and a myriad of kaleidoscopic mirrors. Before her death, she donated her private collection to Hannover's Sprengel Museum, and will appear in the new wing due to open late in 2016.läs mer »
Christmas Markets in Cologne
My notions of winter in Europe have been shaped by Hollywood movies. I expected to watch snowflakes romantically descend upon short winter days, and the cosy glow of Christmas trees in makeshift homes (think boutique hotels) to keep me warm. What surprised me on my December trip to Germany was the camaraderie and sheer revelry at the country’s famous Christmas markets, compelling enough to brave the single digit temperatures and rejoice over a white winter! If the thought of Europe evokes images of quaint old churches in juxtaposition with hi-tech buildings, and old towns with cobbled streets and artistic cafes, a winter trip to Cologne only romanticizes those images further. Come December, chirpy little Christmas Markets pop up among the city’s most charming neighborhoods, and become the go-to place for the city’s locals. Colorful booths line the streets, selling traditional German and Christmas gifts, like the famous Räuchermännchen, a wooden toy that is an incense smoker in disguise. Food stalls serve up hash browns, frankfurters, crepes, and local delicacies. People gather around drinking glühwein, the famous mulled wine of Europe warmed with spices, chatting, warming up over some neighborhood gossip. Christmas music plays everywhere, and the night rings with the clinking of cups and prost. Such revelry! At the Christmas Market on the Alter Markt in Cologne, local craftsmen and women demonstrate their talents with wood crafts, crystal painting and glass glazing; it is fascinating to observe the precision and pride that goes behind each little piece of work, and meet men and women who have come to these markets since they were little boys and girls. But the icing on the cake in a festive Cologne is its main market, which glitters in the dramatic backdrop of the city’s oldest and most charming cathedral; truly a European Christmas!läs mer »
Alternativ livsstil i centralt belägna Gängeviertel
Äta, shoppa, uppleva och bo – allt på gångavstånd
Nattlivet i St. Pauli är som en tysk cocktail
Shopping in the city
I am continuing my little Berlin report. We planned to go shopping and sightseeing at the weekend with Nóri. Unfortunately, shops in Germany are closed on Sundays so we had to do the shopping part on Saturday... We were walking in the streets in the city centre in the morning and we went into interesting design stores when we spotted them. I like talking to the locals because a lot of nice memories come back in connection with Germany. I was 11 years old when I first spent a longer period of time in summer at a German family. It is funny to think back that I could hardly understand anything from what they were trying to tell me, I was so embarrassed that I answered "Ja" to everything... :) We left the shopping centres to the afternoon where we could really enjoy our shopping mania. We found a Primark shop here, too, well known from London... :) If you ever enter this shop, you will surely leave with more than one shopping bag. :) The sales were still on which meant that we bought almost everything for 3 or 5 Euros. It was the earthly heaven itself, I could hardly stop myself from putting the whole store into my basket. By the end of the day, we got totally exhausted and couldn't wait to relax after these two long days... X x Festyläs mer »
Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Berlin - Studio Kaprol fashion show and backstage
I couldn't wait for the second fashion show on Friday because the marketing person of Studio Kaprol contacted me a few weeks ago to ask us to take some photos of their backstage and post them on our blogs. It was a great experience for me to get a glimpse again behind the scenes of an international fashion week. It had only happened to me once on my first fashion week in New York. Then, the series of pleasures continued as we got private VIP seats to the second row among journalists and celebrities from Berlin. I was extremely happy to be able to watch this special show from such proximity. It started with an art movie and then the models walked on the runway in an unusual way, wandering around and staying on the stage. There were more and more of them up there, then they got together and finally brought the designer forward. I found it a really good idea to present these loose street wear clothes in such a creative way. X x Festyläs mer »
Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Berlin
I thought that Friday is also worth mentioning and I should make a post about the fashion shows, too. We received standing tickets for Marina Hoermanseder's show so we could see the happenings from upstairs with Nóri. It was ideal to take photos from there because we could see the whole area. I love the feeling when the atmosphere of the fashion week catches me and I watch the creations of different designers with excitement. Marina Hoermanseder, Austrian designer, created an extravagant collection with the patterns of medical aids in the clothes. It was interesting to see a kind of knee machine on a fashion show that I had to wear after my sport accident... xo, Festyläs mer »
So many things have happened during a day, it seems that we have been here in Berlin for a week already. We left Budapest in the morning with Nóri Oravecz and we landed in Germany at noon. Our accommodation is in the city centre so we can easily reach everything within 15 minutes. I was really excited because I had never been to Berlin Fashion Week before so I couldn't wait to sit on the shows and learn about German fashion. We were invited to two fashion shows yesterday. At first, we checked the creations of a talented Austrian designer, Marina Hoermanseder. Then, we had the opportunity to look at the backstage of Studio Kaprol, it was the first time I had received a VIP ticket on an international fashion event. We could watch the fashion show from the second row which is a fantastic feeling for a fashion blogger. :) We got an invitation to the closing party at night where we got to know German and Austrian journalists and designers. It was adventurous to get to the party... It took almost an hour to find one of the old factory sites of East-Berlin. The place had a special atmosphere with a ruined brick building, wall paintings and railways tracks. Finally, we found a huge building like a hangar where masked hostesses were welcoming the guests at the end of the red carpet. We entered a large room where the closing ceremony took place. We talked to a lot of fashion professionals, everybody was friendly and kind to us. One of the great advantages of Berlin is that the underground operates all night so you can get home very easily even after midnight. X x Festyläs mer »