Famous vineyard sites
Almonds & Chestnuts - Inspiring Sites and Festivals in Pfalz
One of the years earliest wine festivals in Germany celebrates both wine and the blossoming of Mandel (almond) trees a harbinger of spring and the start of a new growing season. The Mandelblütenfest takes place in March (date varies, depending on the outset of blossoming) in Gimmeldingen (district of Neustadt), midway along the Deutsche Weinstraße (German Wine Road) that runs the length of the Pfalz. Find more wine festivals and -events in Germany.
Kastanien (chestnuts), known by the locals as “Keschde”, take center stage in autumn, particularly at the Käschdefescht in early October in Annweiler, a 15 minutes drive from the Südliche (southern) Weinstraße.
Both nut trees are innate to the landscape of Germany’s second largest wine-growing region and numerous Pfälzer vineyards are named after almonds (14 sites) and chestnuts (2 sites), including the famous site Kastanienbusch in Birkweiler.
In the southern Pfalz many names of villages end in “-weiler” (hamlet). “Birk-” refers to the birch trees in the forests that top the vine-clad slopes near the town. Birkweiler, first documented in 1285, is a picturesque little wine village full of old half-timbered and stone houses with massive courtyard portals, and streets canopied with vines and lined with flowerboxes. There are no fewer than 17 wine estates in this village of ca. 700 people. Its three vineyard sites - named after roses, almonds and chestnuts - comprise some 200 ha.
This site, called "Keschdebusch" by locals, is about 80 ha in size. It has a south-southeastern exposure and lies in a natural hollow at the foot of Hohenberg hill – the peak of which is at least 550 meters high - which helps protect the vineyard from the cool westerly wind. Some 40% of the site is quite steep; 60% sloping. Vines are planted at an altitude from 160 to over 300 meters above sea level.
While the Haardt mountains (an extension of the French Vosges) extend into the northern part of the Pfalz, shifting faults over the centuries resulted in hills and vales that are much more pronounced in the southern Pfalz - and led to very diverse soil conditions. In Kastanienbusch, soils include Rotliegendes (an iron-rich, red soil mixture of slaty clay and sandstone) - as found in the famous Nackenheim and Nierstein vineyards of the Rhine terrace in Rheinhessen; weathered colored sandstone; and sandy loam top soil above colored sandstone and colored marl/keuper. Many grape varieties are cultivated, but Rieslings and Spätburgunder, Weißburgunder and Grauburgunder - as well as the ancient white variety Silvaner (traditional in this site) are particularly popular. Spicy specialties, such as Gewürztraminer and Muskateller are also cultivated here.
Tips for Tourists:
The Pfälzer Wald (Palatinate Forest) has an extraordinary network of marked paths for walking, hiking or cycling. The SÜW (Südliche Weinstraße) shop at the regional tourist office in Landau has a great supply of detailed maps and brochures (suedlicheweinstrasse.de).
Bad Bergzabern: Südpfalz Therme - spa (suedpfalz-therme.de); Café Herzog - known for delicious ice cream, chocolate and cake (cafe-herzog.de)
Annweiler: Burg Trifels - a 12th-century Hohenstaufen castle located on a sandstone bluff overlooking Annweiler (trifelsland.de); Museum unterm Trifels - museum (pfalz.de); concerts and other events (trifelsland.de)
Klingenmünster: Burg Landeck - castle (ruins from 1200) that offers a fantastic view, a museum and a restaurant (burglandeck-pfalz.de)
Speyer: Dom zu Speyer - Speyer Cathedral (1030), a UNESCO World Heritage Site (dom-zu-speyer.de); Palatinate Historical Museum (museum.speyer.de) with the Wine Museum (world’s oldest bottle of wine, from AD 300); Technology Museum (speyer.technik-museum.de); the historical Jewish quarter (speyer.de)
Hassloch: Holiday Park (east of the Weinstraße, 50 minute drive) – one of Europe’s largest amusement parks (holidaypark.de)
Siebeldingen (next to Birkweiler): Sonnenhof - hotel, beautiful terrace next to old chestnut trees (sonnenhof-siebeldingen.de)
Herxheim-Hayna: Hotel Krone - hotel and restaurant; Pfälzer Stuben - more casual restaurant operated by the same team (hotelkrone.de)