It’s no secret. The famous German Weinstrasse (wine street), which stretches some 80 kilometres from Schweigen-Rechtenbach close to the French border to Bockenheim, is one of the prettiest wine routes across Germany. Not to mention that it also was the first official wine route established globally – in 1935!
Wine off course is the main attraction but there are several other reasons not to miss a drive along the German wine route: Striking scenery, several historic monuments and castles and many beautiful small historic villages spotting immaculately preserved half-timer houses.
One of the villages where you simply have to stop is the gorgeous little wine-growing town of Deidesheim, also called Riesling Town as this famous German varietal is the main grape being grown by local wineries.
So let’s explore all the exiting things to do in Deidesheim:
Do like late chancellor Helmut Kohl: Eat pig’s stomach at Deidesheimer Hof
The little town with only around 4,000 inhabitants has actually come to a certain international fame thanks to late chancellor Helmut Kohl. He was born and raised a mere 30 kilometres away and loved visiting the locally well known Deidesheimer Hof where he is said to have regularly ordered one of his favourite dishes, pig’s stomach. At the hotel’s restaurant he also entertained many state guests including Maggie Thatcher and Michael Gorbatschow.
On sunny days (and there are plenty of them in the Palatinate region, Germany’s warmest and sunniest region), settle outside on the small market square for a coffee break or lunch. Otherwise, you can chose between the hotel’s Michelin-star Restaurant Schwarzer Hahn or Restaurant St. Urban serving traditional local food. Both offer variations of their most famous dish – you guessed it; pig’s stomach.
Go sightseeing around Deidesheim
Simply stroll around town and take in the gorgeous historic facades lining the small streets.
Wander around the former Castle Grounds just around the corner from the market square. However, do not expect to encounter a real castle here. The buildings you will see are dating back to the early 1820s. They were developed on the foundations of a former castle however, built during the 12th and 13th centuries by the prince bishop of nearby Speyer. It was destroyed in 1689 by the troops of Louis XIV, than rebuilt in 1745 but finally knocked down by the French Revolutionary Army and local residents.
Instead, wander along the former castle moat which in the mid 1870s was transformed into a small park. It was awarded a special price in the Garden Culture Competition by the German Wine Route Association in 1988 for being the most beautiful garden along the Weinstrasse.
The beautiful baroque former town hall building dates back to the 16th century albeit it was restored at the beginning of the 18th century after being destroyed by a fire. Today it hosts two museums: The Historic Town Museum on the upper floor and the Museum of Wine Culture, featuring the history of wine growing in the historic town hall.
One of the most prominent buildings in town is the historic St. Ulrich Parish Church, built between 1440 and 1480. It’s 70 metres high tower can be seen from most parts in town. There is an exhibition of the coats of arms of wealthy noble families from Deidesheim inside.
Enjoy excellent food
Whilst Deidesheim along with the wider Palatinate area is still mostly known for traditional local food, in recent years the culinary scene has undergone a huge transformation. Many young chefs have arrived in the area, trying their hands at innovative modern interpretations of the local classics.
In addition to Restaurant Schwarzer Hahn at Deidesheimer Hof, another Michelin-star restaurant directly in Deidesheim is L.A. Jordan at Hotel Ketschauer Hof, another historic luxury hotel location in town.
If you want something more casual, you will find lots of other restaurants conveniently located along the town’s main street, many of them belonging to local wineries.
Taste award winning local wines
There are many opportunities to taste local wines and brandies directly in town (thus eliminating the need for driving). In fact, Deidesheim is home to one of the highest numbers of ‘grosse Lagen’ wineries, which means the winery produces wine which has been produced under the strict regulations and criteria of the VDP group, a small elite group of German vintners who uphold the highest level of terroir-driven viticulture.
Just off Weinstraße (which in this case refers to the town’s main street, not the entire wine route) you will find Bassermann-Jordan, one of the most important wine estates in the Pfalz region. Founded in the 19th century, the winery was at the forefront of innovation and also introduced the spätlese style to the region.
Similarly important (and originally part of the Bassermann-Jordan winery until it was divided into three in the late 1840s) is Weingut Reichsrat von Buhl, whilst more excellent wines are found are at Weingut Georg Siben Erben, Weingut Mehling and Weingut Georg Ferdinand Kimich, all located just a few steps from each other along the main road.
Time your visit to enjoy local wine festivals
If you love street festivals and other culinary events, then you should likely time your visit around one of the annual festivals taking place in Deidesheim and the surrounding areas.
Most are wine related as the annual Weinkerwe, the Deidesheim Wine Fair taking place in August. This event sees as many as 100,000 visitors attending each year, therefore making it one of the largest wine festivals in Germany.
If you love wine, good food and scenic locations, along with hikes through the vineyards (optional), I really recommend to explore the stunning German Weinstrasse and particularly stopping of at Deidesheim with its many award-winning wineries and excellent restaurants and hotels.