An idyllic valley nestled between the Taunus hills and Rhine River, the Rheingau Region holds a sunny place in the hearts of wine lovers all across the globe. Not only is the Rheingau known for its delicious wines and proximity to large cities like Frankfurt and Cologne, it's also renowned for its stunning views, numerous hiking and biking trails, castles, and rich trade history. I feel so fortunate to have been able to live in Wiesbaden, Germany's "gateway of the Rheingau" for the last 3 years. Since moving here, D and I have grown to love and appreciate all the wonderful sights, tastes, and activities this region has to offer tourists and locals alike. With every visitor that rolls through Haus Coté, we love introducing the splendor of the Rhine…so allow me to share 6 reasons why you should plan a trip to visit this beautiful wine-lovers paradise:
You can't come to Germany and not try the wine. You just can't! The best place to enjoy a glass of Germany's most coveted Riesling is the Rheingau Region. The Rheingau has a long tradition of wine-making, having just about every town and village along the Rhine River as home to a dozens of award-winning wineries. Known as the birthplace of Spätlese, each winery in the Rheingau produces their own wonderful array of dry to sweet and even super sweet wines (Eis wines) all for enjoying with traditional German dishes or light meat and cheese platters. The main wine grape varieties produced in the Rheingau are Riesling (this region proudly produces about 78% Riesling wine varieties) and Pinot Noir (Spätbugunder-red), but you'll also be able to find Müller-Thurgau (cross between Riesling and Madeleine Royal grapes), and Dornfelder (red) grapes. This wine region really has something for every wine lovers palate. Some of my favorite wineries in this region? Kaspar Herek in Oestrich-Winkel, Theo Kreis in Hallgarten, and Egert Winery in Hattenheim. Go forth and drink, my friends!
The Castles & History
Another one of my favorite things about the Rheingau Region…the CASTLES! There are dozens of castles towering over the Rhine River that are just dying to be explored. Some have been renovated and are still fully intact (like Burg Rheinstein) while others, like Burg Rheinfels and Erhenfels, are in ruins. Many of the Rheingau castles you can still visit and wander their grounds, while others have been turned into restaurants and hotels for guests to enjoy history in another fun way. Click here to see a map of castles along the Rhine River.
Germans love a good festival and the Rheingau Region hosts some pretty fabulous ones throughout the year. But the best festivals, the ones that draw in thousands of locals and tourists alike, are typically held in the summertime and are centered around the region's best attribute…WINE! During the summer months, you can enjoy the Rheingau Musik Festival, the Rheingau Gourmet & Wine Festival, and my personal favorite the Rheingauer Weinwoch held in Wiesbaden every August. The internationally known Wiesbaden Winefest (as it's known to us American folk abroad) spans 10 days and hosts over 100 different wineries from all around the Rheingau wine growing region. You can hop from tent to tent and sample Germany's best Rieslings and munch on local culinary delights while enjoying live music and the beautiful scenery of the Wiesbaden Marktplatz. In addition to these larger festivals, various villages along the Rhine River also host individual wine festivals throughout the summer and fall months. For a complete calendar of Rheingau events in 2014…you can click here (in German, but just pop it into Google Translate).
The Rhein Aflame
Speaking of fabulous festivals…every year from May to September, the Rheingau hosts the Rhein in Flammen (Rhine in Flames), one of Germany's most spectacular displays of lights and fireworks. The Rhine Aflame happens along the most scenic stretches of the Rhine River-from Rüdesheim to Bonn, Spay to Koblenz- and accompanies numerous festivals and celebrations in Rheingau towns. You can either enjoy the firework displays from various points along the Rhine River bed or hop aboard an illuminated party boat and be a part of the sailing processional that triggers each firework show along the river. We experienced this tradition firsthand last summer and I have to say, it's one of the most memorable events we've been to in Germany. It's romantic and absolutely unforgettable…a feast of the senses the whole family can enjoy!
The Incredible Views
There is no shortage of incredible, awe-inspiring views around the Rheingau region. From driving village to village along the Rhine River to enjoying a birds-eye view atop any one of the region's Seilbahns (chair lifts/funiculars), you can experience many different perspectives of this beautiful area of Germany. Might I suggest chair lift ride up to the Niederwald Monument in Rüdesheim? Or taking in the views from the balcony of Rheinstein castle? How about a quiet dinner among the vineyards at Schloss Johannisburg? No matter where you go or what you do in the Rheingau region, prepare to experience some of the most stunning vistas in all of Germany.
The Outdoor Activities
In addition to riding the various chair lifts and funiculars along the Rhine River, there are many other outdoor activities at your disposal when visiting the Rheingau. One of my favorite Rhine adventures was the day we got to pick grapes for a batch of wine at a local winery. It was back-breaking work, but the beautiful views and overflowing glasses of Riesling made it all worthwhile. Grape picking not your thing? Perhaps you'd enjoy a hike along the Rheinsteig, a 320 km trail that links Bonn, Koblenz, and Wiesbaden together amongst many vineyards, forests, and breathtaking views on the Rhine River. These trails can be quite steep and narrow, but they were designed to create a journey into nature that's unparalleled to any other region throughout Germany. The Rhine Castle trail also offers wonderful views as well as opportunities to enjoy Germany's rich history while strolling from castle to castle. Looking for a more leisurely outdoor activity? Taking a Rhine River Cruise might just be your speed. You can hop aboard the KD Rhine at various stops along the river and enjoy a day of sailing from village to village. You can choose to get off the boat and explore German towns like Rüdesheim or Assmannshausen, or you can stay on board, enjoy a glass of wine, and relax as the castles and vineyards pass you by.
As if this wasn't already evident enough from my previous points, the best reason to visit the Germany's Rheingau region is might be just because it's absolutely gorgeous. You can WWII sight-see in Berlin, walk the medieval wall in Rothenburg, but nothing can compare to sipping wine and taking in all of nature's splendor as you wander the villages and vineyards of the Rhine River. Spend a day or spend a week, but don't miss out on experiencing one of Germany's best kept regions.