ExplorE EuropE’s Hidden Wine Region

Steep wine terraces, a very special grape variety and winegrowing going back to the 11th century – Saxony’s wine Oroute is a treat not just for wine lovers, with enchanting scenery and great festivities over the coming months.

Over 55 km, the Saxon Wine Route runs from Pirna via Dresden and Meissen up to Diesbar-Seusslitz through Germany’s easternmost wine-growing regions and one of its smallest. This makes it perfect for leisurely explorations, as the route takes in the Elbe valley scenery and its unique combination of stately architecture and winegrowing with palaces, mansions, old vintner’s houses and vine taverns. The main regional varieties
here are Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Traminer as well as the very rare Goldriesling, which is almost exclusively cultivated in Saxony.

Schloss Wackerbarth, the region’s most famous vineyard, is one of the places to sample the special aroma of the Goldriesling variety, which was introduced to Saxony from the Alsace in 1913. Wackerbarth, sitting above the Elbe not far from Dresden, is a splendid combination of vineyards, Baroque gardens, a palace and a modern wine and sparkling wine factory. In other words, it’s a destination not to miss! Another name to remember is Hoflössnitz in Radebeul, a listed estate and jewel in Saxony’s winegrowing crown. Once a hunting lodge and with a history going back to the 15th century, the historic ensemble features a gorgeous ballroom with vineyard views as well as a wine museum and a Saxon Wine Route visitor information centre. In addition, Hoflössnitz vineyard, which only produces organic wines, also offers onsite accommodation with four double rooms and two apartments.

Schloss Proschwitz is Saxony’s oldest vineyard and also the largest privately-owned one. Run by Georg Prince of Lippe, who step by step bought back his family’s estate after the fall of the Wall, Schloss Proschwitz was built in the early 18th century. Its location above the Elbe is hard to beat, with splendid views of Meissen and a great wine shop to sample top quality wines.

Speaking of wine tasting, Saxony’s wines are best tried at one of the region’s wine festivals and wine-themed events. These include the Open Vineyards Weekend (August 25 & 26), a long-standing favourite with the locals for a reason: Every year, vineyards between Pillnitz and Diesbar-Seusslitz, in Dresden and the small town of Freital, just a few miles south, open their doors to visitors who can explore the wine terraces and winemaking on guided tours, before sampling the products. A great way to get to know what makes the Saxon Wine Route so special.

The Federweisser in Diesbar-Seusslitz (September 15 & 16) takes place in picturesque Diesbar-Seusslitz, in the Dresden Elbland region, the gateway to the Saxon Wine Route. Early autumn is the time for Federweisser, the sweet and low-alcohol wine made of grapes that ripen early, and Diesbar-Seusslitz has quite rightly dedicated a whole wine festival to it. There’s music, guided tours of the surrounding vineyards and lots of delicious savoury snacks that go particularly well with this wine. Don’t be put off by its cloudy look, which is down to the yeast that is added to the grapes, and its sweetness – it is actually rather refreshing, with a pleasant sparkle.

The Wine Festival in Meissen (September 28 to 30) offers wine lovers the chance to walk in Meissen’s vineyards, which are a delight in autumn, but there is another reason why you should make it here in late September. The town’s wine festival is the biggest fair of the Elbland region, with all the major Saxon vineyards showcasing their wines. For three days, Meissen’s beautiful old town is all about wine, music and food. The residents open their courtyards and vaulted cellars to visitors, turning private homes into very charming vine taverns.

Finally, the Autumn and Wine Festival in Radebeul (September 28 to 30) competes with Meissen on the same weekend, but no worries, you can easily fit in both! Radebeul, about 25 minutes further south, combines wine and performances to great effect. Apart from 30 stands run by winemakers from Saxony and the nearby Saale- Unstrut winegrowing region, wine lovers are treated to anything from pantomime to dance and puppet theatre. Various stages in courtyards and on squares invite visitors to enjoy international artists and vote for their favourite performance.

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