The Pfalz wine-growing region in Germany’s south-west can boast quite a lot of superlatives. It is renowned above all for the biggest wine festival in the world, the Wurstmarkt (Sausage Market) in Bad Dürkheim, as well as the first and best-known wine route in the country, the Deutsche Weinstrasse, which links up 130 wine villages along its 85 kilometres. With an area of more than 23,000 hectares under vines, the Pfalz, or Palatinate in English, is the second largest German wine-growing region and second sunniest after Baden. It extends over a distance of 70 kilometres along the slopes that lie between the Palatinate Forest and the Rhine River plain, from Monsheim in the north to the French border in the south.The Pfalz is made up of a large variety of different soil formations, ranging from new red sandstone through loam,  marl, keuper, shell limestone, porphyry and granite to slate.

The largest Riesling-growing area in the world

The main focus of the Palatinate winemakers is on the classical grape varieties, above all Riesling.
With a total cultivation area of 5,500 hectares, the »King of the White Wines« is the undisputed Number One in the region, thus making the Pfalz the largest Riesling-growing area in the world where 15% of all of the world’s Riesling vines are cultivated. Rieslings from the Pfalz are not usually as delicate and light as those from the Mosel, for example, but they have a lot of power and density. In addition to Riesling, the grape varieties Pinot Blanc and Pinot Gris are also making strong advances in the Pfalz. Apart from these, other grape varieties such as Silvaner, Müller-Thurgau, Scheurebe, Gewürztraminer, Kerner and Morio-Muskat round off the wide range of white wines grown in the Pfalz. However, red wines are becoming more and more important too. There are lively and fresh rosés from the Portugieser vine and fruity Pinot Noirs, but the great Palatinate success story that has been causing an uproar for several years is Dornfelder, a deep red wine, usually dry, with a touch of Mediterranean charm. In the meantime, 40 % of the vines that grow in this region bear red grapes – which makes the Pfalz also Germany’s largest red wine-growing region.

The party-loving Pfalz

People in the Palatinate like to celebrate a lot. The wine festival season starts with the Almond Blossom Festival in Neustadt-Gimmeldingen and only ends with the Martinmas Wine Festival in November. Because it’s so easy for visitors to lose track of the numerous wine festivals, here’s a tip: the »Erlebnistag Deutsche Weinstrasse« (Wine Route Experience Day) on which the entire route is closed to traffic, always on the last Sunday in August, thus turning the entire stretch into an 85 kilometre-long connoisseurs’ paradise. The Palatinate’s close proximity to France can be felt everywhere, not least in the Pfälzer people’s love of good food. Top chefs, who have experimented successfully with the regional cuisine, have established themselves all along the German Wine Route in recent years, so a visit is very worthwhile. One of them, »Stiller`s« has established its restaurant with award-winning, modern German food in Shanghai. On top of this, the Palatinate has numerous sights that are well worth seeing: in addition to an obligatory visit to the towns of Bad Dürkheim, Neustadt and Landau, as well as picturesque wine villages such as St. Martin, Rhodt and Gleiszellen, detours to the castles and ruins at Freinsheim, Deidesheim, and Annweiler am Trifels are highly recommended. A visit to the remote, enchanting Zellertal is also worth the effort. And if you drive to the village of Eschbach and climb up to the Madenburg, one of the most beautiful castle ruins in the region, and look down over the Rhine valley, there is a panoramic view of lush green: vines, as far as the eye can see.


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