Spätburgunder doesn’t roll easily off the tongue, but it does flow pretty well down your throat. The best place in the world to avail yourself of a bottle or seven is right at the source – the Ahr Valley in Germany. Wine nerds know the grape as Pinot Noir, but this tiny wine region about a half hour south of Bonn has over 100 different winemakers. The wine is rarely exported, so the only thing to do is check it out yourself. Here are our picks for the best wine tasting tours in the Ahr Valley.
Even though the Ahr valley is tiny, as far as wine regions go, there are enough wineries, cute towns and unspoiled nature to keep you busy on a leisurely long weekend. Stay on the wine estate that has been run by the Schäfer family for four generations and enjoy a four-star experience complete with three-course meal, wine tastings in your room, and packed lunch to fuel your forest wanderings.
A day at the wine farm
This three-hour tour includes a 90-minute walk along part of the famous Red Wine Trail, a cellar tour at a local winery, a formal wine tasting with samples of five top wines from the area, and a Winzervesperplatte, which is a small plate of snacks to accompany the wine.
Taste and hike
Start off the day in Arhweiler with an 11AM champagne followed by a two-hour guided hike through the vineyards. The guide is an experienced winemaker and can answer all your questions as you wander through some of most beautiful countryside in Germany. At the end of the hike, you’ll stop at a winery for an eight-course tasting and a rustic buffet. The whole tour lasts about five hours.
Secret wine tasting
After a glass of Sekt to get things going, this tour begins with a visit to the Dokumentationsstätte Regierungsbunker, the most top-secret building in all of the former West Germany. A one-and-a-half kilometre hike through the valley follows to the village of Dernau, where a six-course wine tasting in the wine cellar of the Dagernova Vinothek awaits.
Musical wine tasting
No hiking required on this tour. All you need to do is turn up at the Dagernova Vinothek in Dernau, help yourself to a glass of Champagne and get ready for a three-hour, five-wine tasting extravaganza with extra continental atmosphere provided by live musicians.
Do it yourself
What could be better than combining hiking with wine tasting? The Red Wine Trail is marked with signs featuring red grapes on a white background and wends its way for 35 kilometres (22 miles) through vineyards, winemaking villages and ancient ruins. You’ll be able to watch as winemakers bring in their grape harvest or stop to have a chat with a farmer to find out how the magic happens. The trail runs from Altenahr to Bad Bodendorf and all the wine villages connected by the trail welcome guests for tastings and a hearty meal.
Let the wine come to you
If all that walking sounds like a bit too much, then plan your visit to the Ahr Valley during wine festival time, that way, all the wine comes to you. Every weekend in September and October villages like Rech, Bachem, Dernau, Altenahr, and Mayschoß, the local vintners have parades, crown the local wine queen, drink a lot of wine, and let off fireworks. The season starts in Ahrweiler with the valley’s oldest wine fest. Google Winzerfest to see what’s on where when you are visiting.