Germany has many compound words. Plenty translate easily and quite literally like Der Handschuh (hand shoes or rather gloves) and bittersuß (bittersweet). So when I came across a sign that featured the word Weinwanderung (wine ramble/walk), two of my all time favourite activities joined together, my interest was most definitely piqued.
The state of Baden Württemberg has two wine regions within its boundaries. Baden, which is Germany’s longest wine region at around 400km, stretches from the Bavarian boarder to the Alsace in France, and Württemberg the fourth largest wine region in Germany and is historically a predominantly red wine producing area, unlike the rest of the country.
Weinwanderungen (wine walks) take place within the vineyards that are producing the wine that you’ll drink as you walk. Owing to the nature of vineyards as lush green hills covered in geometrical pleasing straight lines of vines, it is hard to find a walk that is not picturesque. Even if the view is less than stellar, the wine will make up for it. Weinwanderungen are most popular during the good weather months of spring and summer but some hardy souls enjoy the activity year round.
Most walks prescribe to a certain formula. Wine stands are set up around the vineyard and you pay a Pfand (deposit) for a glass, which you take for the day and is refilled at your chosen stand. Most glasses are typically 0.1l but the measures can be more generous, especially at the end of the day. Food (usually snacks) and soft drinks are available at the stands but bringing your own is perfectly acceptable.
My favourite Weinwanderung is in Uhlbach, my first and one that has been hard to beat so far. A gentle circular hike of about 5km, with 7 stands all serving various varieties of local wine. It really is a good way to work out what you like and what you don’t. At this particular walk you will be handed a map at the first stand, when you purchase your first glass of wine. The map not only keeps you on course (though it is neigh on impossible to get lost owing to the number of other people also taking part) but if you get it stamped at each stand, you will receive a free glass of wine at the end from the producers cellar.
The weather has always been kind to us, so far, but I’m also always prepared for that to change. Don’t ever forget sunscreen, a hat (and maybe a waterproof, since the weather can change quickly and there is little or no cover) and consider bringing water, the distance between the stands may not be far but on the vineyard there is little shelter. Comfort wise you are unlikely to find a seat during the walk, so settling in between the vines and getting close to nature is essential.
Differences arise with the distance to walk, 4km-15km and anything in-between, best to check before leaving and always wear sensible footwear. The routes too, some are circular and some are not, work out your travel plans before you start on the wine. Some vineyards are steeper, have narrower paths and aren’t suitable for wheelchairs or pushchairs, some are much gentler, have wide paths and are suitable for the whole family. Do some research to avoid disappointment; you can find details of all the Weinwanderungen happening here.