On October 3rd, the Day of German Unity, S and I took part in one of the last walking wine tours of the season in the gorgeous town of Bühlertal in the Baden region of Baden-Württemberg. After having a ball on our first walking wine tour in Untertürkheim back in July, we were looking forward to another opportunity to go on hike through the vineyards. We tried to go on the hike in Degerloch (a neighbourhood of Stuttgart) a few weekends ago but unfortunately we got a late start in the day and by the time we got on the road, there was a terrible traffic jam and a main road closure up toward the start of the hike. We were forced to turn around and go home without getting to go on the hike. I suppose it all worked out for the best as it started to rain just as we turned around to go home.
When I found out about the upcoming hike in Bühlertal on the October 3rd holiday, we decided to make the 1.5 hour trip to take part. The entrance hours to the wine hike were between 10am – 2pm, so we left our place around 11am to give ourselves plenty of time to get there. Unfortunately, it seemed like every car in Germany was on the various Autobahnen that day and we were rerouted several times by our GPS due to traffic jams. We saw our arrival time get later and later until we finally pulled into Bühlertal at ten minutes to 2pm. Fortunately we were able to buy our entrance tickets just as they were starting to pack up the tables. For 2,50 Euro each, we were presented with two complimentary glasses of Sekt (sparkling wine) at the start of the hike and two entries in a draw for a candlelight dinner and some bottles of regional wine.
The hike was a 7km round trip that passed 5 different stations serving local wines and food. The menus of each station were posted at the start of the hike so we could plan our stops in advance. We decided to have lunch at the first station which seemed to have the tastiest menu with the most options.
The weather was perfect – warm and sunny – for the entire hike. As we made our way on the trail by following the orange marker signs, we pulled up to the first stand on the route. It turned out this station was actually station #5, the last stop on the round-trip hike. They were mainly serving coffee and cake (Kaffee und Kuchen!); we made a mental note to save room for cake at the end of the hike.
The hike was quite steep to begin with, but we were rewarded with an incredible view once we reached station #1. (Tip 1: Wear good walking/hiking shoes and bring sunscreen and water for your journey). Scroll through the slideshow below to see some shots from our hike and our meal at the first stop.
We had to order our drinks at the drink stand but had table service for the meal. We both tried different Weinschorles (wine spritzers); red for me, white for S. I ordered the chanterelle mushroom soup and S ordered the deer ragout with pureed potatoes and cranberry sauce. My first choice of pumpkin Maultaschen was unfortunately sold out, but the soup was a delicious second choice. Tip #2: If you start the hike a bit later in the day (like we did), be prepared for some items to be sold out!
We stayed at the first station for about an hour enjoying the view and the meal. We carried on along the path and made our way past stations #2 and #3. They seemed to be packing up a bit, but there were still lots of hikers sitting at the tables and enjoying a glass of wine.On the way, S spotted a praying mantis on the trail. It turns out that the mantis is quite rare in Germany and when sighted, it is mainly found in Baden-Württemberg. Lucky that we saw one!
As we descended the trail from the hillside, we made our way back to Bühlertal. The fourth station was located right in the village nested between the two surrounding hillsides. This station was the busiest and every table seemed to be taken.
Since we were anxious for our piece of cake, we carried on to the final station, the one we passed right at the start of the hike. We tried to order a piece of black forest cake (Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte), but they were sold out! (See Tip #2). We settled for a piece of peach cake which definitely hit the spot after the long hike.
Though we didn’t sample many wines on the hike, we had a lovely time walking through the vineyards and enjoying the scenery. We got the impression that the Weinwanderung is one of the biggest events of the year in Bühlertal. In fact, there are several wine weeks (Weinwochen) in Bühlertal that run every autumn from mid-September to early October and include a number of wine-related events, guided vineyard hikes, special menu tastings, and so forth. This year’s Weinwochen run from September 19 – October 10, so if you’re inclined to go, there’s still a bit of time!
Most of the Weinwanderungen are over for the season, but you can visit the main Weinwanderung website (in German) to learn about upcoming hikes this fall and next year.