As the leaves are starting to portray an array of stunning colours, it’s the perfect time to indulge in premium wines surrounded by autumn’s beauty. From the German Wine Road to Austria’s scenic wine countries and Switzerland’s lush Alpine vineyards – there is plenty to discover and to taste.
TEXT: MARILENA STRACKE | PHOTO © PIXABAY
Crisp air, a soft cool breeze, colourful leaves swirling around at your feet and a glass of fabulous wine in your hand. What more could you ask for this season? Just after the harvest is the perfect time to indulge in a cheeky glass whilst discovering all that the DACH-region’s wine areas have to offer.
Celebrating the harvest in Germany
Riesling, Müller-Thurgau, Pinot Noir and Dornfelder are just the tip of the crop, so to speak. With over 130 grape varieties being cultivated, Germany is certainly a wine country that’s gaining more and more popularity internationally.
One of the most beautiful and largest wine regions in Germany is Rhineland-Palatine. Think endless vineyards, rolling hills, gently gurgling creeks and, of course, the infamous warmth of its carnival-loving people. With wine production taking centre-stage over here, it should come as no surprise that there are plenty of wine festivals throughout October.
If you like hiking, you will enjoy the wine walking-tour in Züsch on 3 October. This scenic route measures 11 kilometres and has five stops where you can try over 40 wines from all six wine regions of Rhineland-Palatine, in just one day. The w.i.n.e festival at the historic ‘Spiegelpalast Bon Vivant’ in Neustadt an der Weinstraße offers a more relaxed way to enjoy a glass. It runs from 1 to 14 October and is located at the German Wine Road. A great day to check this festival out is 13 October, as the big vintner procession to celebrate the harvest takes place then.
From Neustadt, you can pretty much head straight to Landau, which is only a short 20-minute drive away. From 17 to 20 October, the town is all about the Federweisser during the Festival of the New Wine. This event is one of the most popular ones amongst the locals, so if you are looking for a truly authentic German wine experience, this is the place to be. The Martinus Weinfest in St. Martin runs from 8 to 10 November, and closes the wine festival season in the Palatine region.
From mountains to lakes: Switzerland’s diverse wine regions
Switzerland quite possibly tops Germany when it comes to breathtaking landscapes surrounding their vineyards. The largest wine region is the canton of Valais in Switzerland’s south and it’s well-known for its Fendant: a perfect white wine to accompany classic Swiss dishes such as Fondue or Raclette. A visit to the wine museum Salgesch gives great insight into the region’s winemaking history and it’s a wonderful starting point for all wine related excursions.
Another large wine region in Switzerland is the canton of Waadt, which nestles along Lake Geneva. Known for its Chasselas and Pinot Noir, the region is simply stunning, and the wine culture is deeply rooted here. From 4 to 5 October, head to Nyon for the wine festival and enjoy music, cultural events and, of course, great local wines.
In the west of Switzerland, the Bielersee vineyards are a real hidden gem and well worth a visit. A true highlight is the ‘Trüelete’ festival in Twann, which runs from 25 to 27 October along the shores of Lake Biel. It can’t get more Swiss than that!
Winemaking up-close in Austria
Last, but certainly not least, there are the beautiful wine regions of Austria. From the famous wine district of Burgenland to Styria, Kremstal and Donauland, Austria has, without question, a whole lot to offer when it comes to local wines.
In Mönchhof, you can celebrate 800 years of wine culture during the ‘Wein + Kultur Tage’, a festival running from 25 to 27 October. A great range of local vintners open the doors to their famous cellars – a perfect opportunity to not only taste the wines, but also to hear the story behind them.
Another great opportunity to get a behind-the-scenes glimpse of Austrian winemaking, is the Rotweinherbst (Red wine autumn) in Horitschon, from 26 to 27 October. The list of the participating vintners can almost be seen as the ‘who’s who’ of Austrian red wine makers. For those wanting to combine a walk with wine tastings, there is a guided Sunday morning hike along the vineyards.
Across the DACH-region there are so many festivals celebrating the grape harvest during October, it’s hard to choose just one. But while you’re there, make sure you also sample the chestnuts. Delicious with a glass of wine, they will not only warm your stomach, but also your heart.