Nestled in between the Rhine and the Black Forest is the Ortenau region, Germany’s prime wine country. It’s here you’ll find Germany’s finest and most delectable whites, and some of its most beautiful landscapes.
Festplatz Durbach – Schloss-Staufenberg – Festplatz Durbach
On the tip of the Ortenau, just as the region spreads out into (the Black Forest) lies Durbach, a quaint wine village full of weinguts and vineyards for as far as the eye can see.
It’s here you’ll fund the Durchbacher Weinpanorama, a 15km trail up through the wine fields, valleys and woodlands, to the Staufenberg castle, which keeps guard over the area’s riches. It’s here you’ll be able to enjoy the local wine riches!
You can find a link to the route here.
The wine over time
Durbach has over six-century’s worth of wine-making history. The climate and physical geography here make it one of the best locations int the region for cultivating strong vines. It also makes the Durchbacher Weinpanorama one of the best single-day wine hikes in the whole of Germany.
The area has continued to preside over the impressive Markgraf von Baden wines for centuries. They have continued to provide the world with some of the best Riesling’s ever, and whose very fields the trail takes you through.
The trail is in itself more a journey through the history of the wine-making process. A journey directly through the vineyards providing views of both the Ortenau and the Rhine plain. Needless to say though, once you come to the mightily impressive Schloss Staufenberg halfway through, you can sample as many of the area’s Baden weins as your desire.
The route itself starts off in the centre of town and follows the Durbach stream, cutting past the Weingut Andreas Laible and presiding vineyards. The route is extremely well signposted, outlined by either a set of grapes image or a yellow triangle. As you meander along the soft, grainy gravel-bed that is the route’s footpath you are provided with stunning views of the Durbach valley, that drown your eyes in endless vineyards.
The trail takes you over to the other side of the hillside, where you can see all the way over to the west to and over the Rhine (some say you can even see Strasbourg from here.) Following the route yet further you’ll follow round through the surrounding forest, which acts a buffer against the cold weather thus protecting the grapes as they ripen. The woods also provide a cooling reprieve from the exposed fields, which — on a summer’s day — can become very intense.
Wines and Schloss
About 7km in and the trail’s main highlight comes into view, the thousand year-old Schloss Staufenberg. Here on the Schlossterrasse, you can work your way through sampling the local Baden-wines, and enjoy some fine local delicacies.
The castle has been an integral part of the region’s wine history, and in the success of the Weingut Markgraf von Baden, the regional cultivator of the area’s wines, dating back to the 15th century. Just outside the castle you can visit the wine store, where you can get your hands on some great samples from the surround Baden Weinland – along with some local schnapps too!
And let’s be honest here, these are some of the best Rieslings and Grauburgunders you will ever have anywhere else in the world.
Sitting on the terrace, looking out at across the flowing fields of grapes and vines, I opted to go for the local Spätburgunder Rosé, a charming, dry and crisp, flavourful wine perfect for a late, summer afternoon.
Back to Durbach
Once you’ve pried yourself away from the castle’s mighty grasp, it’s time to finish the trail, but not before you’ve managed to steal yourself some more epic vistas. About a kilometre outside of Staufenberg and you’ll be able to take a look from afar at the castle and its dominance over the surrounding landscape, with the fields dropping steeping from its towering walls.
Beyond the schloss you pass a serene, white chapel lost in the middle of the fields before you career yonder through more pristine, Black Forest woodland. Over yet another hill you start to venture past some farmland and back onto the Durbach stream, into the valley, through some orchards and back into town.
For those who still yearn for more, the trail passes directly in front of the Durbacher Wine Museum along with plenty of Weinguts and restaurants. Although I didn’t have time left to visit any of them, Gräflich Wolff Metternich’sches Weingut looked very inticing.
The whole valley is rich in award-winning weinguts and display rooms. If this is your thing, then this is the place for you.
Durbach is only around 20 minutes from Offenburg, in western Baden-Württemberg. From Offenburg there are buses running every hour from outside the train station. Offenburg is well connected by rail to the entirety of Germany, and even has direct trains connecting to Basel and Strasbourg, so you really don’t have any reason not to come here.
Photos – Dan Cole