Walking wine tours are one of my favourite things about living in southern Germany. From spring to early fall, regional wineries host a Weinwandertag or Weinwanderung. These are walking routes set through vineyards where guests can visit several stands set up along the way and sample different wines from the host wineries. So far I’ve been on three walking wine tours in Baden-Württemberg in Untertürkheim, Uhlbach, and Bühlertal.
On Mother’s Day this year, S and I invited his parents and two of his siblings to the Weinwandertag in Esslingen am Neckar, a beautiful town located just outside of Stuttgart. Since Father’s Day in Germany took place earlier in the same week, we had a combined Parents Day celebration. The weather was perfect – clear and sunny, perfect for a vineyard stroll.
The walking route has two possible start points – the Frauenkirche in Esslingen and the Kelter in Esslingen-Mettingen. You can start from either end and simply walk along the route. (Since this route is not a circle like some previous wine walks I’ve been on, you’ll need to plan your transportation to and from the walk accordingly). We decided to meet at the Frauenkirche to kick off our wine tour.
The hike to the first stand was a bit steep (you do have to climb up into mountainside vineyards, after all), but the view of Esslingen was spectacular. We decided to bypass the first stand since it was rather crowded. We carried on to the second stand which was even more crowded and extremely narrow – the booth was set up along the narrow path where people gathered, making it hard to pass through. Since we were all pretty thirsty at this point, we stopped for a glass of wine. I ordered a 0,1L glass of esecco rosé, a refreshing bubbly wine. In my experience, the pours are quite generous on walking wine tours and you often end up with almost 0,2L per glass.
You pay a 1 Euro Pfand (deposit) on your wine glass which you can keep throughout the walk. (If you want a clean glass at every stand, you can simply return your used glass, get your deposit back, and then purchase a new glass at the following stand). This was the first wine walk I’ve been on where I’ve seen the wine glass holders being sold alongside the glasses of wine. On previous wine walks, I’ve seen the seasoned wine walkers with their holders and wondered where they got a hold of them. Now I know! I wasn’t planning to purchase one, but my sister-in-law spotted one on the ground so I got one for free! (By the end of the hike, everyone in our group had either purchased or found a wine holder so we were well-equipped!)
It wasn’t crowded along the walking route as people tended to cluster around the six wine stands. There were beer benches and tables set up at each wine stand for people to sit at and enjoy a packed picnic lunch or food items sold alongside the wine at the stands. At the third stand, we found a grassy patch between the vines to eat our packed snacks – grapes, cheese sticks, little sausages, and cookies.
By the fourth stand, we decided to buy a bottle to share between the six of us; this is usually more cost effective than buying 5 or 6 individual glasses of wine. We tried a Rivaner, a smooth and sweet white wine which we enjoyed under a shady tree tucked around the corner from the main route.
Since we had all parked around the Frauenkirche start point, we decided to skip stands 5 and 6 and turn around. By then it was late afternoon and some stands were even packing up for the day.
All in all, it was a lovely little hike and one I’ve been meaning to try for the past few years. I must admit that I prefer the scenery in Uhlbach and Bühlertal with the rolling green hills and lush valley views compared to the route in Esslingen that was quite narrow and overlooked the train tracks and some industrial areas. That being said, it’s still a lovely walk and a well-organized event.
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Have you been on a walking wine tour? Which one is your favourite? I’m always looking to try new ones!