Europe’s hidden wine region: Explore Saxony on the wine trail
London, August 2018. Steep wine terraces, a very special grape variety and winegrowing going back to the 11th century – Saxony’s wine route is a treat not just for wine lovers, with enchanting scenery and great festivities over the coming months.
On 55 km, the Saxon Wine Route runs from Pirna via Dresden and Meissen up to Diesbar-Seusslitz through Germany’s easternmost wine-growing regions and one of its smallest. Which makes it perfect for leisurely explorations, taking in the Elbe valley scenery and its unique combination of stately architecture and winegrowing with palaces, mansions, old vintner’s houses and vine taverns. The main regional varieties are Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Traminer as well as the very rare Goldriesling which is almost exclusively cultivated in Saxony.
Get a taste of Saxony’s best: from sparkling to organic wines
Schloss Wackerbarth, the region’s most famous vineyard, is one of the places to sample the special aroma of the Goldriesling variety that was introduced to Saxony from the Alsace in 1913. Wackerbarth, sitting above the Elbe not far from Dresden, is a quite splendid combination of vineyards, Baroque gardens, a palace and a modern wine and sparkling wine factory. In other words, don’t miss!
Another name to remember is Hoflössnitz in Radebeul, a listed estate and jewel in Saxony’s winegrowing crown. Once a hunting lodge and with a history going back to the 15th century, the historic ensemble features a gorgeous ballroom with vineyard views as well as a wine museum and a “Saxon Wine Route” visitor information centre. The Hoflössnitz vineyard is also Saxony’s first to only produce organic wines. Tip: Make use of the onsite accommodation options (four double rooms and two apartments).
Schloss Proschwitz is Saxony’s oldest vineyard and also the largest privately-owned one. Run by Georg Prince of Lippe who step by step bought back his family’s estate after the fall of the Fall, Schloss Proschwitz was built in the early 18th century. Its location above the Elbe is hard to beat, with splendid views of Meissen and a great wine shop to sample top quality wines. Speaking of which, Saxony’s wines are best tried at one of the following wine festivals and wine-themed events:
25 & 26 August: Open Vineyards Weekend
A long-standing favourite with the locals for a reason: Every year, vineyards between Pillnitz and Diesbar-Seußlitz, in Dresden and the small town of Freital just a few miles south open their doors to visitors who can explore the wine terraces and winemaking on guided tours, before sampling the products. A great way to get to know what makes the Saxon Wine Route so special.
15 & 16 September: Federweisser in Diesbar-Seusslitz
Picturesque Diesbar-Seusslitz in the Dresden Elbland region is the gateway to the Saxon Wine Route. Early autumn is the time for Federweisser, the sweet and low-alcohol wine made of grapes that ripen early, and Diesbar-Seusslitz has quite rightly dedicated a whole wine festival to it. There’s music, guided tours of the surrounding vineyards and lots of delicious savoury snacks that go particularly well with this vine. Don’t be put off by its cloudy look that is down to the yeast that is added to the grapes and its sweetness – it is actually rather refreshing, with a pleasant sparkle. Tip: Take a look at the local Baroque palace and its lovely gardens.
28 to 30 September: Wine Festival in Meissen
Walks in Meissen’s vineyards are a delight in autumn but there is another reason why you should make it here in late September: The town’s Wine Festival is the biggest fair of the Elbland region with all the major Saxon vineyards showcasing their wines. For three days, Meissen’s beautiful old town is all about wine, music and food. Not to be missed: The residents open their courtyards and vaulted cellars to visitors, turning private homes into very charming vine taverns.
28 to 30 September: Autumn and Wine Festival in Radebeul
Competing with Meissen on the same weekend (but no worries, you can easily fit in both!), Radebeul, about 25 minutes further south, combines wine and performances to great effect: Apart from 30 stands run by winemakers from Saxony and the nearby Saale-Unstrut winegrowing region, wine lovers are treated to anything from pantomime to dance and puppet theatre. Various stages in courtyards and on squares invite visitors to enjoy international artists and vote for their favourite performance.
Easy access to Saxony: All major airlines to Berlin and Ryanair to Leipzig
New: ICE high-speed rail link cutting travel times from Munich and Nuremberg – Munich-Erfurt 2 hrs 15 min, Nuremberg-Erfurt 1 hr, Munich-Leipzig 3 hrs 15 min, Nuremberg-Leipzig 2 hrs
Saxony Tourism, www.visitsaxony.com, is part of the Cultural Heart of Germany, www.cultural-heart-of-germany.com, a tourism initiative of Saxony and Thuringia Tourism. The neighbouring states of Saxony and Thuringia feature a unique cultural heritage and rich musical tradition that the Cultural Heart of Germany promotes in the UK.
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