Seasonal Wine Pleasures
Discovering the Straußwirtschaften - Seasonal Wine Taverns
Here you will find an overview of seasonal wine taverns, known as Straußwirtschaften, in the 13 winegrowing regions of Germany, supplemented by direct links and literature tips.
In the Ahr Valley, most Straußwirtschaften are located along the Red Wine Hiking Trail, one of the most famous hiking trails in Germany. The panoramic trail winds for 35 kilometers past all the important wine sites in the Ahr Valley, so naturally the vintners and their seasonal offerings are a part of it. Sometimes you sit in the winemaker's private living room - which becomes a dining room for four months of the year, sometimes in beautiful backyards on bales of straw. The rustic stopovers are an integral part of the Ahr Valley.
The opening times vary, usually a few weeks in May and / or June, then again in September and October. However, many seasonal wine taverns also open continuously from May to November.
In Baden's wine-growing region, a seasonal wine tavern can have a maximum of 40 seats, must serve only their own wine and can offer simply prepared dishes (usually home-made). The “Strauße", as they are also called here, may be open for a maximum of 16 weeks a year, which is usually divided into two periods in spring and autumn. Incidentally, Straußwirtschaften are only known in the Alemannic language area - in Swabian they are called "Besenwirtschaften " or simply "Besen" (brooms).
There are said to be between 100 and 200 ‘Straußwirtschaften’ or temporary wine taverns in Franken, however the transitions to regular ‘Weinstuben’ or wine bars are fluid, which is probably why nobody can really estimate the number so clearly.
In Franken, the inns are also called ‘Heckenwirtschaften ‘ (hedge inns), which can possibly be derived from a ban on serving wine and beer in the 14th century, which led to many bars being hidden behind a hedge. It is more likely, however, that the term "hedge" comes from "Häcker", because this is how winegrowers used to be called in Franken.
In any case, as in other wine regions, the winegrowers had to empty their barrels shortly before the harvest, so invited guests to their living rooms. A bouquet of flowers was hung on the front door as a sign, and so the saying went: "Wherever the bouquet hangs, you will be served."
In Franken, as everywhere, strict rules apply to Heckenwirtschaften: they can only operate for a maximum of 4 months, usually divided into two sections, sometimes only at the weekend (for example in the Mainschleife region), sometimes continuously (as in the Untermain region). Also, only a maximum of 40 seats are allowed, only self-produced wines and simply prepared dishes can be served.
In the small wine-growing region on the Hessische Bergstrasse there are only a handful of Straußwirtschaft (temporary wine taverns) - for example in Reinheim, Rossdorf, Bensheim and several winegrowers in Groß-Umstadt.
A look at the local newspaper is helpful here as dates and opening times are usually announced in advertisements there. The Straußwirtschaft of the Vinum Autmundis wine cooperative in Odenwald in Groß-Umstadt is well known and there you can also find information about other Straußwirtschaft.
Also on the Middle Rhine, the old tradition "where the bouquet hangs, one is served" has been preserved. Many winegrowers place tables and benches in their gardens and courtyards and hang the "bouquet" over the door to let walkers know that they can drop in for a local wine and snack.
According to the website mittelrhein-wein.com, there are around 60 winegrowers with connected restaurants on the Middle Rhine. In addition to their own wine, they also offer the perfect accompaniment: “Spundekäs”, “Zwiwwelkuchen”, “Wingertsknorze” and “Winzersüppchen”.
On the Mosel, many winegrowers offer their own wines with regional specialties, often in old barrel wine cellars, wine press houses or beautiful courtyards.
More than 50 winegrowers have come together to form the working group of Straußwirtschaften (temporary wine taverns) on the Mosel-Saar-Ruwer. Together they promote the Straußwirtschaften, not only expanding the offerings for consumers but also for local business by engaging in training, exchanging experience and ideas and organizing campaign weeks.
The working group developed a Straußwirtschaft pass: after visiting eight different Straußwirtschaften, the eighth winery presented the guest with a bottle of wine. At the end of the season, the completed pass could be entered into a raffle, which includes vouchers for weekend trips to winegrowers, wine vouchers and wine gifts. The pass is available in the tourist offices on the Mosel and in the member wineries, as well as on mosel-strausswirtschafts.de
There are at least 65 Straußwirtschaften on the Nahe, as registered in the "Straußenliste" of the Weinland Nahe Association. Information about these “Straußen” can be found in the brochure “Enjoyment on the Nahe”, which can be obtained from the association's office in Bad Kreuznach - or at their website.
The association "Gastland Nahe e.V." publishes a small vineyard guide every year. This brochure is also available from most tourist information offices and hotels.
The Pfalz is a heartland of Straußwirtschaften, as the pleasure-seeking people of the Pfalz enjoy settling down with wine and good food. Because they are also pragmatists, they simply say "Woistubb" - not distinguishing between a wine bar, wine restaurant or Straußwirtschaft, because enjoyment is what is really important here.
For the southern wine route there is a separate directory of the 65 Strauß- und Besenwirtschaften, that hang either a bouquet or broom out the front to indicate that they are open. This can be obtained from the tourist office.
In all Rheingau winegrowing communities you can find Straußwirtschaften, which here have often been converted into respectable inns. However, the simplest, most original wine bar is still called a "Straußwirtschaft" - whereby the vintner family clears out an area of their courtyard in order to serve their own wine to guests for a short time of the year.
There are also many large old wine barrels in parks along the Rhine river, that are open throughout the summer months. Here local winemakers offer their wine with simple snacks on a rotating schedule. They are hugely popular and a wonderful way to taste a local drop.
Rheinhessen is the old country of the imperial palaces - Charlemagne resided in Ingelheim am Rhein, there are dozens of Straußwirtschaften (seasonal wine taverns) here, and there are probably around a hundred in all of Rheinhessen. The special feature here is that many of them are housed in old “Kuhkapellen” (cow chapels”) - former stables that were equipped with cross vaults to protect the cows against fire. Today, they are noble or rustic wine taverns, where you can cheerfully drink and feast.
Please note that on the english version of the rheinhessen website, Straußwirtschaften is translated as ostrich farms, but does in fact refer to these wine taverns.
There is also a tradition of Straußwirtschaften in the Saale-Unstrut wine-growing region in eastern Germany, that are open mainly in the summer months and on weekends. Here they are called Besenwirtschaften or Straußwirtschaften, depending whether a broom (Besen) or bouquet (Strauß) is hung out the front to indicate that they are open. It is an old tradition whereby winemakers can sell wine on their own property that they have produced along with small hearty snacks.
There are also Straußwirtschaften in Württemberg, but here they are usually called "Besenwirtschaften" referring to the tradition of hanging a broom ('Besen') out the front to indicate that wine is being served, as opposed to a bouquet ('Strauß'). There are so many here in Württemberg that it is said: 'There is always one nearby.'
The winegrowers also serve hearty, down-to-earth regional specialties such as tarte flambée, Bibbeliskäs, Schäufele, Maultaschen or Vesperplatten with their own wines.