The German Wine Route or Wine Road (German: Deutsche Weinstraße) is the oldest of Germany’s tourist wine routes. Located in the Palatinate region of the federal state of Rhineland-Palatinate, the route was established in 1935.
The German Wine Gate (Deutsches Weintor) in Schweigen-Rechtenbach on the French border adjacent to Wissembourg (Weißenburg) in France marks the start of the route. Built in 1936, the gate is an imposing ceremonial gatehouse made of sandstone. Currently, the route traverses the Palatinate wine region (Pfalz, formerly Rheinpfalz) which lies in the lee of the Haardt Mountains, an area known as Anterior Palatinate (Vorderpfalz). The route runs northward, beside the path of Bundesstraßen B 38 and B 271 for 85 km, passing through towns like Bad Bergzabern, Edenkoben, Neustadt an der Weinstraße, Deidesheim, Bad Dürkheim and Grünstadt. It ends at the house of the German Wine Route in Bockenheim an der Weinstraße. The route is marked by a yellow sign with a stylized bunch of ten grapes and the name of the route. The region around the route has come to be known as the Weinstraße (Wine Route) region, and the administrative district (Kreis) of Südliche Weinstraße (literally, “Southern Wine Route”) takes its name from the route.
The German Wine Route is marked by numerous open-air wine festivals, held annually from March to October, that make it a major tourist attraction. The largest wine festival worldwide with more than 600,000 visitors each year is the Wurstmarkt in front of the world’s largest wine barrel in Bad Dürkheim in September. Other important wine festivals are the German Wine Harvesting Festival (Deutsches Weinlesefest) in Neustadt an der Weinstraße where the German Wine Queen is selected in October, the festival in Freinsheim (Stadtmauerfest in July), and in Deidesheim (Deidesheimer Weinkerwe in August). The first wine fest on the wine route is the Mandelblütenfest (Almond Blossom Festival) in Gimmeldingen held in March depending on the start of the flowering.
On the last Sunday in August, the route is closed to motorized traffic for German Wine Route Day (Erlebnistag Deutsche Weinstraße) with many wineries and Straußwirtschaften open air (seasonal wine bars) open to the hundreds of thousands of hikers, cyclers and inline skaters who visit this festival.
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