The state of Saxony in Germany produces some of the country’s best white wines and has a wine trail that offers a blend of breath-taking landscape, wine hills along the Elbe and sophisticated architecture that is perfect at this time of year. Germany may be lauded for its beer, but wine lovers will be happy to know that Germany also has a long wine history. Saxony has over 850 years of wine tradition; it is the smallest of Germany’s wine regions and the most northern. There are twenty full-scale wineries and over 3,000 smaller independent growers that form the Saxon Winemaker’s Association. Saxony focuses on white wine, with 80 percent of the area growing white wine grapes, and specializes in the Goldriesling, which is only grown in this region. There are 37 grape varieties grown and the main wines produced are the Müller-Thurgau, Riesling, Pinot Blanc white wines, and the Pinot Noir and Dornfelder red wines.
The best way to experience Saxony’s wine culture, taste the wines, meet the winemakers and see Saxony’s breathtaking landscape is by car along Saxony’s Wine Route. The route goes through 35 miles of the captivating Elbe River Valley. As you follow the Saxon Wine Route, you will start to see the vines in the suburb of Dresden, near Pirna, and then in Pillnitz, close to the stately homes and Augustus the Strong’s summer palace that line the River Elbe. On the other side of Dresden in the direction of Meissen, you will see vines growing on terraces on the Radebeul and Coswig slopes, which end at the romantic Elbe wine village Diesbar-Seusslitz. Theroute was created in 1992 and links some of the most beautiful vineyards and quaint wine taverns.
One of the largest (and oldest) private estates in eastern Germany is the beautiful Schloss Proschwitz (Castle Proschwitz). Until 1918, the zur Lippe family was counted as one of the reigning royal houses and one of the most important business families in Saxony. They were expropriated by the Communists and had to leave for West Germany. After German reunification, Prince zur Lippe bought back his ancestors’ land and castle and turned it into a flourishing enterprise. The winery totals 87 hectares of land, and is located right outside of Meissen, the porcelain-manufacturing town with over 300 years of tradition. The southwest part of the winery is situated on slopes that look down to the Elbe Valley and overlook the town. Proschwitz winery mostly produces white wine varieties such as Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, Riesling, Elbing, and Traminer. The castle and the grounds are an important stop on Saxony’s wine route and open for wine tours, tastings and visits.
Another example of unusual stops along the wine route is the Zimmerling Winery run by Klaus Zimmerling and his artist/wife Malgorzata Chodakowska who also designs the labels for the wine bottles. The winery opened in 1992 and is a unique blend of art, sculpture and wine. The vineyard is sought after for its delicious wines and is situated on 16 acres of land near Pillnitz, only a few hours from Dresden. Zimmerling winery specializes in white wines especially the Riesling, Grauburgunder, Weißburgunder, Kerner, Gewürtztraminer and Traminer. The vineyard itself is on a hill that faces the south and resembles an Egyptian pyramid, it is worth a trip to see the beautiful location, intricate sculptures and taste Zimmerling’s delicious Riesling.
On the last weekend of September, wine festivals are held in Meissen, where a visit to the romantic Vincenz Richter wine restaurant is always a must, and in Altkötzschenbroda, a picturesque former village which has been part of Radebeul for 100 years. In “Altkö”, as the locals would call it, the wine festival gets enhanced by theater performances. Radebeul, of course, is also the home of the Saxon State Winery at the beautiful Castle Wackerbarth, where events take place all year round.
For those with more sporting aspirations, there is the Saxon Wine Trail which is a scenic hiking path through the terraced vineyards. Since this constitutes a slower way of travelling along the Saxon Wine Route, it is good to know that vintners also offer accommodation, ranging from simple rooms to five-star apartments.
For more information on Saxony and the Saxon Wine Route, please visit www.saxonytourism.com
Courtesy Saxony Tourism