The Saale-Unstrut wine region is the northernmost of Germany’s 13 wine-growing regions and is well known for producing high-quality wine. The name of the region comes from the two rivers named Saale and Unstrut and it is situated in between the various slopes of the rolling hills surrounding the rivers. The total area of the wine region is 1690 hectares, which is almost completely covered in vineyards in the federal states of Saxony-Anhalt and Thuringia. Come, discover Natural beauty set in the backdrop of historical castles and trace more than ten centuries of winemaking traditions in this northernmost viticultural corner of Germany.
Out of the 13 wine-growing regions in Germany, Saale-Unstrut is the most northern wine region not only in Germany but also in the world. The region is named after the Saale and Unstrut rivers and the vineyards are planted along the steep slopes of the riverbanks. Wine has been grown in the Saale-Unstrut region for over 1000 years since the planting of the first vineyards by the Cistercian monks of the Pforta Abbey. The region enjoys a lot more sunshine than other wine regions and also experiences extremely low levels of rainfall.
Historical Vineyards of Saale-Unstrut Wine Region
Despite having the perfect conditions for wine growing the far north climate of the Saale-Unstrut wine region can also be extremely harsh and the Spätlese and Auslese wines of the region can only be produced during warm years. Vines have been produced in Saale-Unstrut since AD 998 along the hills along the river banks. Because of the potentially harsh climate of the north, the vines are planted on stone terraces that help to temper the climate but which also mean that they are extremely labour intensive. The vines of the region are taken care of by part time wine growers who then take their crops to cooperative cellars in Freyburg. In the Saale-Unstrut wine region there are 14 private wine estates that currently make and sell their own wines. There are also state owned cellars at Kloster Pforta which used to be an old monastery and which is now the regions largest wine estate.
White grapes dominate the Saale Unstrut wine region(73% of the vineyards). The most widely planted grape varietal in the region is the Müller-Thurgau varietal, and this makes up almost 20% of the areas vines. Other varietals, which are grown in the region, include Pinot Blanc, Silvaner, Riesling, and Bacchus from white grapes and Dornfelder, Blauer Portugieser, Blauer Zweigelt, Regent, and Andre from red grapes. Although historically the area was dominated by the production of white wine, since 2003 there has been an increase in red wine production when more red wine varietals were planted.
Style of wines
Many wine drinkers around the world might not have heard about the wines from Salle-Unstrut wine region which is understandable since nearly all of the wine produced in this very small wine region is consumed and enjoyed by the local people. Because the region is so small it is easier for the local wine makers to have a commitment to quality rather than quantity. This is evident in the number of wine awards received by the different wineries in the region.
Traditionally, Salle-Unstrut wine region produces dry, lively wines with typical, fine fruitiness.
The most popular Müller-Thurgau wines from Salle Unstrut wine region express yellow greenish colour, mild acidity and aromas of ripe apples and peaches. It is very pleasant wine to be paired with fresh salads and light dishes.
Top 3 Places to Visit in Saale-Unstrut Region
Naumberg – Where Old Meets New
Naumberg is a town, which is located in the southern region of Saxony-Anholt. The town is most famous for its cathedral, which in 2018 was named an official UNESCO World Heritage site. Naumberg was once a historical centre in the region and this can be seen in the number of old and beautiful castles that surround the town. In recent times the focus of the town has become on tourism to its famous vine growing areas. Visitors to Naumberg must be sure to see the St. Peter and Paul Cathedral, the Nietzsche House, the Kloster Pforta and the Großjenaer Blütengrund.
Freyburg – A Town With Winemaking Carved into its Roots
Freyburg is one of Germany’s most romantic towns and is most well known for its excellent wine and sparkling wine. The town is located in extraordinary scenery in between rolling hills, meadows and fields, which are all surrounded, by acres of vineyards. One of the most beautiful areas of Freyburg is the Schweigenberg, made up of old dry stone walls, steep steps and old vineyard huts.
In 2010 the Schweigenberg was officially added to the exclusive list of ‘highlights of wine culture’, which is produced by the German Wine Institute annually. The area also hosts a range of excellent wine restaurants and cafes where visitors can enjoy a relaxed day of wine tasting. The location is not the only thing that has made Freyburg famous. The town is also home to the Rotkappchen sparkling wine producers, who are the leaders in sparkling wine production in Germany.
Merseburg – One of the Most Beautiful University Cities
Merseburg is located in the southern region of Saxony-Anhalt and is most well known for its cathedrals and university. It is also one of the oldest cities in the whole of Germany. One of the most notable facts about Merseburg is that it is the oldest preserved example of the Old High German language. Tourism in Merseburg is promoted through the hosting of various historical and cultural festivals, which attract visitors from all across the world. One of the most fascinating experiences when visiting Merseburg is hearing the sounds of the Ladegast Organ from the cathedral, which attracts visitors on a daily basis.
Natural Beauty Set in The Backdrop of History and Castles
The natural beauty of Saale Unstrut is complimented by the history of the region which has been cultivated over centuries, leaving behind a range of historic buildings in between the hills, vineyards and waterways. This natural scenery makes the region the perfect escape for adventure travellers and visitors of all ages.
Experience nature while discovering history
The Saale-Unstrut Nature Park is situated between the Saale and Unstrut rivers and forms one of the most beautiful landscapes in all of Germany. When visiting the nature park, visitors can walk along the meandering rivers and enjoy the coloured sandstone and unique structures and formations of the rocks. The nature park covers an area of 103 737 hectares and includes forests, meadows, grasslands vineyards, orchards, castles, palaces and monasteries.
The forest Botanical Gardens
The Botanischer Garten is also known as the Sächsisches Landesarboretum or the Saxony State Arboretum, and is one of the oldest arboreta in the world. The arboretum was built by Henrich Cotta in 1811, who was also the founder of the Forestry College. In 1816 the arboretum was made a part of the Royal Saxon Academy of Forestry and has since then been exapanded on many different occasions. The Arboretum contains over 2000 differnet species of plants for visitors to enjoy.
A Nature Reserve That Pleasures The Senses
The Saale Elster Aue Bei Halle is a nature reserve that is located in the city of Halle in Saxony-Anhalt. The nature reserve spans over 915 hectares of land and has been under protection by the German government since 1998. Visitors to the nature reserve can enjoy the vast grassland areas, meadows, forests and marshes. The nature reserve is home to a wide range of species of fauna and flora including woodpeckers, chickens, kingfishers, herons, geese and roads.
What to Eat in Saale-Unstrut Wine Region
Traditional German cuisine is well known around the world but most people who enjoy it are not aware that there is so much more to traditional German food than just sausage, cabbage and meat. The Germans have perfected the making of comfort foods that are rich and full of flavours. The types of food to enjoy are dependant on where in Germany you are as the cuisine varies greatly across the different regions.
Thuringer Rostbratwurst – The Must Taste German Sausage
Thuringer Rostbratwurst is also called Thuringian Sausage and is a uniquely German sausage that cannot be called this when made in any other region. This type of German sausage was first produced in 1404 in a local convent and the oldest known recipe was written in 1613. The sausage is made using minced meats including pork, beef and veal, salt, pepper, caraway seeds, herbs and garlic. It is very important that the ingredients are locally sourced to give the sausage its local German flavour. Thuringer Rostbratwurst is usually prepared over a charcoal fire or rubbed with bacon and cooked over a grill. During the grilling process, some chefs even sprinkle the sausage with beer for some extra flavour. The sausage is then served on a bread roll topped with mustard.
Salzwedeler Baumkuchen – The Ultimate German Treat
Salzwedeler Baumkuchen is a cake that was traditionally served at the courts of German royalty, giving it the name of the king of cakes. The cake was invented in the town of Salzwedel about 200 years ago and is made using a very traditional baking process of creating about 12 – 15 layers of batter which are later baked over an open fire. The ingredients that are used to make the cake are butter, flour, eggs, vanilla, sugar and salt. Added to this are extras such as groundnuts, marzipan, honey and cardamom. To finish the cake to perfection, it is finally coated and glazed with dark chocolate or sugar. What makes the Salzwedeler Baumkuchen especially unique is the fact that the cake is made only by hand using only the best quality ingredients
Altmarker Hochzeitssuppe – A Soup Eaten at German Weddings
Altmarker Hochzeitssuppe is also known as wedding soup and is made of a clear broth like soup made with chicken as well as chicken meat balls, aspargus, noodles and a savoury egg custard. The soup is traditionally eaten by the bride and groom after their wedding ceremony and by guests at the wedding reception. When visiting Germany one can try many variations of the wedding soup and an instant version can even be found in most grocery stores and retail outlets.
Share about Saale-Unstrut Wine Region:
Soil: Shell-limestone and coloured sandstone
Climate: Continental. Warm, dry summers and cold winters
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Map of Wineries in Saale – Unstrut wine region
Discover the long wine tradition of Saale – Unstrut and discover some of the best wineries in this region
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