When we talk about German wine regions, what comes to mind first? Mosel, Rhein-Hessen, Pfalz perhaps? Or Franken with its Boxbeutel?
But have you ever heard of the wine region Saale-Unstrut?
This area (at 51 degrees north latitude) is the most northern growing area of quality wine in Germany. Its cultivation was first documented in 998 AC. Two rivers are the namesake of this region: Saale and Unstrut.
Most of the terraced vineyards are found in their river valleys. Small islands of warm climate which arise in these valleys provide a sort of mild microclimate for a successful cultivation.
But even there, the growth is only possible in protected locations. Most of the vineyards are south facing.
With about 500 mm of precipitation per year, the Saale-Unstrut region has the lowest precipitation in Germany. The 1600 hours of sunshine contribute to the fact that 42 hl a year can be harvested.
The largest part of the wine-growing area is situated in the Naturpark Saale-Unstrut-Triasland. The whole growing area extends over these 3 Federal States: Saxony-Anhalt, Thuringia and Brandenburg.
You can still find the original landscape there: steep terraces, centuries-old drywalls and wineries. Defiant and also lofty castles such as the Neuenburg and Burg Querfurt (film locations for Der Medicus or Die Päpstin) characterise this area. The Naumburger Dom tells the history of the region.
With about 750 ha, the Saale-Unstrut region is one of Germany’s smallest wine growing areas. Traditionally, dry white wines with a fruity and tangy note are cultivated.
About 30 different grape varieties are well preserved. Above all, the Mueller-Thurgau variety. The wine makers are also proud of their Silvaner and Riesling.
A quarter of the surface is reserved for red wines such as Dornfelder, Portugisier and Zweigelt - a type of wine you may know from Austria.
The Saale-Unstrut with its famous wine routes can be wonderfully explored on bike and hiking trails. The traditional Straussenwirtschaft invites you to take a break.
You will recognise them immediately by the wreath or broom displayed at the entrance. Winemakers, especially the smaller, family-run ones, can serve their own wine for a certain period during the year without being subject to certain bureaucratic regulations.
Wo’s Straeuss’che haengt, wird ausgeschenkt !
Roughly translated to: where the wreath hangs, wine will be served ;)
When one reports about the Saale-Unstrut region, the famous Rotkäppchen Sekt must not be left out, as it was the top export product of the former GDR.
Freyburg, the secret capital of the Saale-Unstrut region, is home to this sparkling wine Rotkäppchen. The advertising campaign with the famous lady in red, Maria, made Rotkäppchen sparkling wine the most popular in Germany at the end of 2001.
Photo 1: ©Saale-Unstrut-Tourismus, Photo 7: ©Weinbau Lindicke