Würzburg and the surrounding area in Franconia
How beautiful with wine hills all around.
I must say, traveling in Spring has its positives (aside from there only being early budding and blooms), there are not the giant massive crowds.
Würzburg is located in Franconia (Franken), the northern region of Bavaria (Bayern), it’s a smaller city at about 125,000 inhabitants, but for the size, the tram system is fantastic and relatively inexpensive. Würzburg is also home to a couple of the region’s wineries (weingut/weinkellerei). Franconian wines are known for Bacchus, Silvaner, and Scheurebe. All white varietals ranging from light and crisp to fruity.
Looking from most spots in the city, you’ll be able to look up to the Marienberg Fortress that is on top of wine hills. These grapes are for the Würzburger Stein; producing wine since the 8th century and is rumoured to have produced the oldest vintage tasted in the world (from 1540). Yum! Too bad I’ll never be able to afford that kind of a vintage!
From the Altes Mainbrücke, you can take the potentially more scenic route walking up to the Fortress through the wine grapes at about 45 minutes, or take the shorter route up the side that takes about 30 minutes. I did see some cars parked at the base. It is a lovely view looking down at the city, especially seeing the Old Main Bridge from a different angle, aside from walking on it. The Altes Mainbrücke began in 1120 and is one of Germany’s oldest stone bridges. In 1730 the 12 statues depicting different saints and emperors (think: similar to the infamous St. Charles bridge in Prague but smaller).
Würzburg’s Residence joined the UNESCO World Heritage Sites list in 1981. Architect Balthasar Neumann completed the palace in 1780. Instead of exploring the 40+ rooms inside, I stayed outside walking around this beauty. The stunning Hofgarten of the palace was created in the 18th century continuing with baroque traditions and is one of the top places to see in the city. It was sitting on a bench in the garten that I had wished I brought a book along with me to peacefully sit and read. Instead, I contemplated the beauty in April and appreciated the quietness from other visitors. It reminded me a little bit of the Sound of Music gardens in Salzburg, Austria. I went there about 5 years ago and absolutely fell in love with the natural sights. There is something so serene about large green spaces, especially well manicured ones with all sorts of flora and fauna.
As great as it is to visit Würzburg, I really wanted to explore some wineries in the area. For one, Reisers am Stein, located just north of the Haupbahnhof, is an exceptional restaurant and winery. I was fortunate to try one of their tasting menus where the chef’s surprise you with each dish after providing a list of ingredients they may use. I’ll note the wine here is also delicious and they have a large variety for all tastes, I should know, I tasted 10 of them!
Wineries to Visit
As I mentioned above, Würzburg is located in Franken which is one of Germany’s wine regions. There are over 6100 hectares of wine vines planted in Franconia. The top varietals are Silvaner and Müller-Thurgau, as well as the others I mentioned. The Bocksbeutel are famous from this region and are the only producers in the world allowed to use this bottle. It is plumply shaped and a heavy glass.
Zehnthof Luckert wein & gut is located in the town/village of Sulzfeld, a short drive southeast from Würzburg. I call myself directionally-challenged, so even with Google Maps, I got a little lost. The village, like so many in that region and I imagine around Germany, still has a stone wall around it from centuries ago that served as “protection”, I can only assume. The local residents knew a foreigner right away — A gentleman across from Luckert politely told me in German I was parked in a no-parking zone and needed to move; not to worry, he moved his car so I could take his place (how nice!). Luckert is owned by the family of the same name. They have been making wine since the 1960s and specialize in Silvaners.
Rainer Sauer weingut can be found in the village of Escherndorf. The street they’re located on has a solid few other wineries also. If I had more time, a personal driver, and an unlimited budget, I would have stayed in that town all day trying the different wineries! They use a concrete egg-vessel for aging their wines, providing a continuous flow of the liquid due to the shape. Like Luckert, Rainer Sauer specializes in Silvaner, while also making a vast variety of others. Their wine grapes are located on some of the steepest hills in Franconia.
While in Escherndorf, it was time for Mittagessen. I asked the folks at Rainer Sauer for a suggestion, they provided two: either a more traditional Franken-Restaurant also in the village, or the Restaurant Vogelsburg. It has a stunning view of the area! Spring-time is asparagus season in Germany. You will easily find white or green asparagus items on any menu in a German restaurant. I opted to try the Fränkische Mostsuppe as it is a local tradition in Franconia. What’s unique about this wine is that it is made with wine grape skins, it’s a creamy soup close to the colour white, not overly sweet.
Other wineries I did not make it to but was recommended:
- Andreas Weigand, located in Iphofen
- Paul Weltner, located in Rödelsee
- Christina Pröstler, located in Retzbach
Just as with any type of tasting, I really love and appreciate recommendations and suggestions from people within the industry or acquaintances, friends, and family who’ve been there themselves. I love wine tasting, and having moved from one of Canada’s major wine producing regions, Niagara, I am happy to know that Germany has 6 regions with wine. I look forward to exploring all of them with time! Basically, if you’ve been wine tasting in Germany, let me know some more places to go!