The Ahr valley, Germany's red wine paradise

Holidays in the Ahr valley, Germany's red wine paradise

The Ahr valley has had the possible biggest ever face lift. It comes as no surprise that top vintner Werner Näkel has contributed considerably to the German Red Wine Miracle, which put the Ahr valley‘s Pinot Noir on the map internationally during the 1990ies. Numerous important wine trophies have since made their way to the Ahr valley, which also beckons with culinary delights. This little side valley of the majestic Rhine River is wildly romantic with its rugged cliffs, steep vineyards and wooded slopes. The valley of the red grape is best discovered on foot along the Ahrsteig Trail and Red Wine Hiking Trail, from the saddle of your bicycle along the Ahr Cycle Route, while strolling in the spa town Bad Neuenahr-Ahrweiler or in the footsteps of the ancient Romans. Cosmopolitan is here what seems very small!

Hiking in the Ahr valley

The high-calibre hiking trail in the north of Rhineland-Palatinate, known as Ahrsteig, crosses the Ahr valley - also known as Germany‘s ‘Red Wine Dorado‘ - and the neighbouring Eifel region. Discover picturesque villages, rural meadow paths, some rock trails, breathtaking mountain plateaus, and working vineyards on beautiful hikes along the Ahrsteig Trail. The Ahrsteig Trail is characterised by impressive panoramic views of the romantic Ahr valley, far into the Eifel region, and beyond the plains of the Rhine River all the way to Cologne and its magnificent cathedral. The Ahrsteig Trail measures around 110 kilometres in total.

Photo: Ralfk, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1257656

A portrait of the AhrSteig Trail

The Ahr is a picturesque tributary of the majestic Rhine River, and the AhrSteig Trail fittingly begins or rather ends - whichever way you may look at it - in Sinzig, a town on the Rhine River. The entire route of the AhrSteig Trail, across the Ahr hills, romantic side valleys, steeply rising vineyards, and along the banks of the river, can be completed in seven half- and full-day hikes. The Ahr Valley Railway offers excellent traffic connections at many of the start and end points of the trail legs. And what could be more gratifying than to think back on the challenges mastered on the day‘s hike with a glass of red wine in hand!

 

The route, which has been planned in accordance with the strict guidelines for a top-quality hiking trail bearing the seal ‘Wanderbares Deutschland‘, consists of two partial routes, which are interconnected via four connecting trails. The overall distance of the trail is around 110 kilometres. The AhrSteig Trail logo, sprayed onto tree trunks in either red or blue, with the next one always visible ahead, guides hikers safely across the Ahr valley. Along the trail, comfortable seats have been installed, where hikers can enjoy a short rest.

Photo: Webbel, CC BY-SA 2.0 de, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=54859731

Rotweinwanderweg Trail

The picturesque Rotweinwanderwegexterner Link - Red Wine Trail is perfect for long walks through the heart of the vineyards. It runs for 35km between Altenahr and Bad Bodendorf, offering fantastic views and amazing insights into the work of a wine grower along the way. There are plenty of delightful places to stop for refreshments and paths down to the wine villages in the valley.

Photo: Superbass, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=29209215

The Ahr Cycle Route

The Ahr Cycle Route follows the course of the river Ahr from the point where it flows into the Rhine near Remagen to its source in Blankenheim. Close to the Rhine cyclists start off amid magnificent riverbank meadows. Once past Bad Neuenahr-Ahrweiler, that scenery gives way to the impressive cliffs and vineyards of the Ahr valley. The river now becomes quite wild, winding its way through craggy rocks and past steep vineyard slopes. Dernau, Mayschoss and Altenahr are some of the well-known wine towns along the Ahr Cycle Route. Here, rustic taverns and inns selling home-produced wine welcome travellers with hearty food and wine tastings. The last section between Altenahr and the source of the river in Blankenheim takes cyclists through the uplands of the Eifel region, partly along a disused railway line and partly through a broad meadow valley.


Photo: Rheinland-Pfalz Tourismus GmbH

Following the course of the river Ahr by bike from the point where it flows into the Rhine near Remagen to its source in Blankenheim, cyclists start off amid magnificent riverbank meadows. Once past Bad Neuenahr-Ahrweiler, that scenery gives way to the impressive cliffs and vineyards of the Ahr valley. The river now becomes quite wild, winding its way through craggy rocks and past steep vineyard slopes. Dernau, Mayschoss and Altenahr are some of the well-known wine towns along the route. Here, rustic taverns and inns selling home-produced wine welcome travellers with hearty food and wine tastings. The last section between Altenahr and the source of the river in Blankenheim takes cyclists through the uplands of the Eifel region, partly along a disused railway line and partly through a broad meadow valley.

Enjoy wine in the Ahr valley

The Ahr in the north of Rhineland-Palatinate is Germany's largest contiguous red wine producing area. Its steep, heat-retaining slate hillsides – which are volcanic in origin – are perfect for cultivating exquisite grapes. It is sheltered by the Eifel hills, and the mild climate of the Cologne basin also provides favourable growing conditions. Today's growers who cultivate the vines in the romantic hills overlooking the meandering river Ahr are continuing a tradition established by the Romans. In 1868 a wine cooperative was established by the wine growers of the Ahr region. This was a pioneering move for it as it was the first organisation of its kind in the world.

White wines of the Ahr valley

Weissburgunder (pinot blanc)
This most elegant of white burgundy varieties produces characterful wines that are fantastically fresh and sensuously smooth. Thanks to the predominantly slate soils of the Ahr valley, its Weissburgunder wines are intensely fruity, elegant and agreeably acidic – the perfect accompaniment for a variety of foods.

Photo: Alex Anlicker, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=569072

Grauer Burgunder (pinot gris)
This is a full-bodied wine that is subtle and restrained on the palate. Sometimes known as Ruländer – and internationally also as pinot grigio – it might have the aromas of pineapple, apricot, lemon, vanilla, butter or green beans. This wine develops an exciting yet balanced acidity in the Ahr's slate soils.

Photo: André Karwath, CC BY-SA 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=35292

Riesling
This grape is one of the world's finest white wine varieties and one of the most widely planted in Germany. Riesling grapes produce excellent wines ranging from dry to noble sweet. Riesling wines are zesty and racy with a hint of peach, apple, grapefruit, honey or roses. The Ahr's steep, stony, heat-retaining hillsides yield rieslings with strong mineral notes and a good acidic structure.

Red wines of the Ahr valley

Spätburgunder (pinot noir)
This grape requires a long time to reach maturity but growers who are not afraid of the work and the risks of a late harvest are rewarded with one of Germany's very finest red wines. These wines are velvety, fiery and full of character. The Ahr's hillsides and slate soils, though highly labour-intensive, offer the ideal conditions for this grape variety to develop a balance between colour, fruitiness and a burgundy bouquet. They also give it a distinctively mineral note.

Photo: Alex Anlicker, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2793275

Frühburgunder (pinot madeleine)
This smooth, aromatic Ahr speciality is becoming increasingly popular. It reaches maturity much earlier than Spätburgunder. Pinot madeleine is promoted by Slow Food Deutschland due to its important contribution to biological diversity and the high quality of the wines produced from the grape.

Photo: André Karwath, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=35268

Portugieser
A lively, uncomplicated wine that is low in acidity and pleasant to drink. The grapes mature early. Portugieser has been grown in significantly higher quantities over the last few years.

Event highlights in the Ahr valley

Wine is of course the main ingredient in all festivities of Germany‘s Red Wine Dorado - and more often than not, it even takes centre stage: From traditional wine festivals to top class culinary wine events.

Gourmet & Wine event series

"Gourmet & Wine" is the culinary event series in the Ahr Valley, at which vintners and chefs of the Ahr region offer unrivalled taste creations with the very best produce the region has to offer.

Historical Wine Festival at Heimersheim
The Middle Ages come to life once a year (third weekend in August) in the wine village of Heimersheim. During the Historical Wine Festival, craft stalls, street performers and musicians in colourful costumes create a unique atmosphere, which culminates in a historical parade through the festively decorated streets.

Advent weekends: Ahrweiler Christmas market
Visitors are echanted by the Christmas market in Ahrweiler's old quarter, which is often compared to a scene from a fairytale. The town's pretty half-timbered houses are beautifully illuminated, the stalls offer Christmas fare and gifts, and the mulled wine is made with grapes from local vineyards. There is a midnight Christmas market on the third Advent weekend.

Uferlichter festival at Bad Neuenahr
In Bad Neuenahr you can visit the delightful „Uferlichter“ festival featuring thousands of lights around the Kurgarten Bridge on the river Ahr as well as culinary delights offered by the regional chefs and vintners.

 

Ahrweiler
Germany

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