Pfalz is the second-largest and one of the most important wine-producing regions in Germany with around 23,500 hectares of vineyards. Only Rheinhessen, to the north, produces more wine than the Pfalz wine region. The Wurstmarkt, which is the largest wine festival in Germany, happens in the town of Bad Dürkheim every year in September. Vineyards are enclosed in a superb landscape that is home to a lot of biodiversities. The Pfalz region is also important for German history, as it had a central role during the Holy Roman Empire.
The vineyards of the Pfalz wine region are bordered by the Rheinhessen wine region to the north and the French region of Alsace to the south. The Pfalz is divided into two separate areas, the Mittelhaardt-Deutsche Weinstraße and the Südliche Weinstraße. The breath-taking surroundings include the Haardt Mountain Range, which is covered in trees, castle ruins, rows of fruit trees, orchards, and old walled villages. Production in the Pfalz wine region is characterised by the use of modern technology and traditional viticultural methods.
Wine tourism contributes significantly to Pfalz’s economy and many tourists visit the wine trail of the region. This tourist trail was created in 1935 and it still draws hundreds of thousands of visitors to the region each year.
Climate and Soils
The delicious wines of the Pfalz wine region benefit from the perfect climatic conditions of the area, as it is one of the warmest wine regions in Germany. Summers are dry, but not too hot, and winters are mild. The climate is mild enough for grape varieties and other crops to thrive and grow well. The soil is quite varied throughout the region with areas of sandstone, limestone, marl, loess-loam, granite, and a few isolated stretches of slate. In the northern area of the Pfalz region, the most common soil is limestone, while in Southern Pfalz loess and loam are more common.
Riesling, The Star of the Pfalz Wine Region
Riesling is by far the most important white wine grape grown in the Pfalz wine region and it is becoming even more significant. In terms of vineyards, Riesling is the undisputed leader in Pfalz with around 6000 hectares cultivated.
While Riesling plays a dominant role throughout the northern Pfalz wine region, the southern Pfalz has also begun to produce various varieties of Pinot. The warmer climate of the region as well as the deep soil, make this part of the region an ideal area for growing Pinot Blanc (Weißburgunder), Pinot Gris (Grauburgunder), and Pinot Noir (Spätburgunder). Almost half of the vineyards in the area are planted with red wine grapes, making the south of Pfalz the largest red wine-producing region in Germany.
Today, the Pfalz is highly regarded for its red wines and, each year, its vineries are among the recipients of the German Red Wine Prize. The most commonly planted red grapes in the region are Dornfelder, followed by Pinot Noir. In the region, one can also find small areas of Gewürztraminer plantings, which are actually quite rare in winegrowing regions, despite the very German-sounding name.
Needless to say, Riesling is the most grown grape in the region followed by Dornfelder, Müller-Thurgau, Portugieser and Pinot Noir.
Weiβburgender (Pinot Blanc)
Grauburgunder (Pinot Gris)
Spätburgunder (Pinot Noir)
What to Expect from Pfalz Wines
The white wines from the Pfalz wine region are dry but still possess bold and unique fruit flavours on the palate. The white wines can be described as ‘racy’, mainly due to higher acidity and distinguished quality. The Riesling from the Pfalz wine region is produced using grapes with substance and finesse, lower in acidity compared to the ones grown in the Mosel. This is also possible thanks to the mild climate, as the average temperature of the vineyards area is 11°C.
On the other hand, red wines from the Pfalz wine region tend to be lighter and present wild berries, black tea, rhubarb, and spices flavours. Today, the Pfalz is highly regarded for its red wines and, each year, wineries in the region are among the recipients of the German Red Wine Prize. Also, Pfalz red wines generally have a deep red colour and are produced mainly using the Dornfelder grape.
Early in the wine-producing history of Pfalz, winemakers recognised the region’s ideal characteristics for the cultivation of Riesling grapes and when the dry wine craze swept through Germany about 20 years ago, they were already well prepared!
All the wines from Pfalz have an unmistakable full-bodied flavour with hints of earthiness and spiciness; these specific characteristics contribute to giving the perfect balance to the wine.
Wineries to Visit in Pfalz Wine Region
The best way to enjoy high-quality regional wines is to visit wineries in Pfalz, where our local partners will meet you with open arms and introduce the story of their wines.
Wein und Sektgut Wilhelmshof
As soon as you arrive at the Wein- und Sektgut Wilhelmshof winery, you are welcomed by a very German house with the name of the winery written all over it. Here, the welcoming, as all the services and the wine, is absolutely of the highest quality. The winery’s Riesling and Pinots (Blanc, Gris and Noir) are all made with hand-picked grapes. The vines of the Wilhelmshof winery grow on clayey slate soil and thanks to their position, soak a lot of sun.
Wein- und Sektgut Wilhelmshof winery’s sparkling wines have also won several awards like Germany’s Best Sparkling Producer 2018 and the Falstaff Sekt Trophy Blanc de Noirs 2018.
The Spindler family started their wine business back in the year 1656 and then expanded their vineyards after purchasing more hectares from Forster Weingut Ferd. Heinemann in 1980. The Weingut Heinrich Spindler winery is located outside the village of Forst and the vineyards are sheltered by the Palatinate Forest, which create perfect conditions to grow and produce exceptional wines. 80% of the vineyards are cultivated with Riesling grapes and the rest 20% is for Pinot Blanc, Pinot Noir and for a very fruity Sauvignon blanc.
At Weingut Langenwalter winery, the passion for winegrowing started in the 17th century and it’s been kept alive ever since. The harmonious mixture of traditional and modern working methods results in the production of high quality and fine wine. The peculiarity of Weingut Langenwalter’s wines is that they’re aged in Palatinate oak barrels, which show even more the bond with the territory. Exceptional red wines, Burgundy wines and Riesling are just some examples of the vast production of this winery.
Neustadt an der Weinstraße – A German History Lesson in between Vineyards
As the name of this city suggests, Neustadt is on the way to the vineries of the Pfalz region. In between wine tastings, there’s actually much more to see. The city’s main attraction is the Altstadt (Old Town) with its market square surrounded by half-timbered buildings. The most majestic building in the Altstadt is the Stiftskirche (Collegiate Church), the most important and significant Gothic church in the entire Palatinate region. It was built in the 14th century and features two twin towers at the front. The church is divided into a Catholic and a Protestant side; a wall separates the two sections making it possible to celebrate to masses at the same time.
Outside of Neustadt, at the outskirts of the Palatinate Forest, you will find Hambach Castle. The castle is clearly visible from the road as it stands on a hill and dominates the landscape. The first settlement on the castle hill dates back to the late Roman times. During the Medieval Ages, the castle was used as the residence of the bishops of Speyer. The castle became famous for the Hambacher Fest, a democratic festival in support of a union of German princedoms that took place in May 1832.
TIP! After exploring Hambach Castle, don’t miss the opportunity to visit The Müller-Kern winery. The winery located just below the castle and taste internationally recognized distinct wines in the idyllic village setting.
Landau – A long-Standing Cultural Center
Landau is a town located in the south part of the Pfalz wine region on the German Wine Route. It is known for being a university town, as well as an important cultural centre. The city centre of town is marked by the main square (Rathausplatz), where the town hall and the market hall are. In the past, Landau was a fortified town surrounded by defensive walls, which are unfortunately no longer standing.
15km to the north of Landau, you can visit Castle Villa Ludwigshöhe, the summer residence of King Ludwig I of Bavaria. The stunning villa is plunged in nature as it is close to the Palatinate Forest. King Ludwig’s Villa is closed for renovation until 2022, but you can still see it on the way to the green paradise of the Palatinate Forest.
Speyer – Come Visit the Emperors
Even though Speyer is a bit out of the wine route, it is still worth a visit for being one of the most beautiful cities in the entire Rhineland-Palatinate state. From the 11th to the 17th century, Speyer was one of the most relevant and important cities of the Holy Roman Empire. Together with Worms and Mainz, Speyer is one of the “Imperial Cities” and many German emperors are buried in the cathedral.
The Romanesque style Cathedral dominated the skyline of the city. The Cathedral was consecrated in 1961 by Konrad II, Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire. The enormity of the red-brick building will stun you as soon as you will catch sight of the high towers. Recently, a viewing platform was opened on the south-western tower, from where to see the city and the Rhine River.
The entrance to the Cathedral is on the main street of the city, Maximillianstraße. It is 800m long and it connects the Cathedral to the western door of the city, called the Altpörtel. Maximillianstraße is characterised by baroque buildings, including the city hall, and shops.
Discover True Nature in Pfalz
The natural landscape of the Pfalz region is diverse and unique, with striking landscapes, enchanting volcanoes and endless vineyards. Nature conservation is a priority for the Pfalz government, that is why the majority of parks and forests are under special protection. These environments also provide a safe home for many animals that kids, and also adults, like to spot while walking in the Pfalz untamed nature.
Hunsrūck-Hochwald National Park – Germany’s Newest National Park
The Hunsrück-Hochwald National Park was given the charter of National Park in 2015. The Ebeskopf, the highest point of the Rhineland-Palatinate state at 816m above sea level, is in this National Park. The flora consists mainly in forests of beech and firs, where wild cats and deer are free to run and hide from hikers.
The great variety of trails offered by the National Park makes it an ideal gateway for adventure-seekers, families and casual hikers. The German Gemstone Route is a circular path that passes through the stunning landscapes of the Hunsrück-Hochwald National Park. The peculiarity of this trail is the tremendous variety of precious gems and stones you can encounter while walking.
Palatinate Forest Biosphere Reserve – A German and French partnership
The Palatinate Forest was first established in 1958, making it one of the oldest nature reserves in Germany. Covering an area of about 1,790 square kilometres, the nature reserve is also one of the largest in Germany. In 1998, the Palatinate Forest was joined to the North Vosges park in France to form the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve of the Palatinate Forest-North Vosges. In the Palatinate Forest Biosphere Reserve the extensive chestnut and oak forests at the foot of the mountain ranges, and the pines and other conifers at higher altitudes, are particularly worth protecting.
One of the most popular hiking trails is the “Hauensteiner Schusterpfad”, a moderate difficult 15-km circular route around the shoe-making town of Hauensteiner. The trail is full of interesting sites, like medieval castles and unique rock formations. On the route, the numerous viewpoints invite hikers to stop for a minute and enjoy the panorama.
Volcanic Eifel Nature Park – The land of dramatic events and sceneries
This spectacular land was created by a series of dramatic events. Explosions and fire erupting from the core of the earth, blowing holes into the group and creating the mountains of the Volcanic Eifel Nature Park. Up until 10 000 years ago, the volcanoes in this area still gave off smoke and most recently the Ulmin Maar was formed – Germany’s youngest volcano. Volcanic activity hasn’t completely disappeared; it’s just taking a break and waiting patiently for the next eruption. Nevertheless, the legacy has been impressive, leaving behind some 350 small and large volcanoes, maars, lava flows and a number of mineral springs.
Besides this, the Nature Park offers even more to see – red sandstones, tropical reefs and powerful sea deposits which tell a story of both peaceful and tumultuous times over the past 400 million years. The Nature Park has been named a European Geopark and has been recognised by UNESCO.
Pfälzer Gastronomical Specialities to Try
Pfalz specialities possess that strong German taste that characterises the country’s cuisine. Chefs in Pfalz have a passion for authentic food. The authenticity of this food is based on very best local and seasonal ingredients, such as chestnut, pumpkin, asparagus, figs, strawberries or Pfälzer Grumbeer (potato) which will no doubt make you fall in love with Pfalz even more.
Pflälzer Spundekäs – Spreadable Cheese with a Twist
The Spundekäs is a cheese spread or dip that originates from the city of Mainz. However, it is typical in the entire Rhineland-Palatinate region. The base ingredients of the Spundekäs are fresh cheese (mainly Quark), butter, onions, peppers, chilli peppers and various spices. This delicacy is best experienced with a glass of wine and pretzel crackers or with some wholesome German bread. It is usually served with a cone shape, together with radishes and boiled potatoes.
Zwiebelkuchen – A Delightful Spongy Onion Pie
As its name suggests, this dish is literally a delightful onion pie. The Zwiebelkuchen can have a round or a rectangular shape; it is filled with steamed onions, fresh cream, caraway seeds and bacon. A variation of the Zwiebelkuchen has beef or meat inside.
The taste of the Zwiebelkuchen is very similar to that of the Flammkuchen however, the main difference is the dough. While the Zwiebelkuchen comes with leavened dough, the Flammkuchen is made with a very thin base, more similar to a pizza.