A trip to the Black Forest’s Ortanau typically means a trip to Durbach and its leading wineries.
It’s Germany’s third largest, one of the oldest – and sunniest – wine region. However, Baden wine region in the south-west of Germany, stretching over more than 400 kilometres all the way from Tauber in the north to Lake Constance in the south, often gets overshadowed by the famous steep Mosel vineyards, the Rheingau with its historic monastery sites and even the culinary and wine innovation hotspot Pfalz.
Baden wine region is divided into nine major areas, all characterized by different landscapes, soil types and climate. In the northern part, starting just south of Baden-Baden lies the picturesque Ortenau region.
Ortenau is home several beautiful small wine towns, but with over 450 hectares under vine Durbach is surely the centre of it all.
With most of the local wineries located directly in town or just outside but mostly still at walking distance you don’t even have to worry about drinking and driving, provided you are staying in town.
Check out my post ‘Checking In: Celebrate Culinary Hotspot Hotel Ritter Durbach In The Ortenau Vineyards’ if you wonder where to stay in Durbach.
The local winegrower’s cooperative is definitely worth a visit. The tasting room offers a wide range of wines from the around 250 participating winemakers. The cooperative will also host various special events in their stunning vineyard hut perched over the town over the year, so make sure to check out their event calendar.
But Durbach is also home to some of the regions leading wineries, with several integral to the local wine history and looking back at centuries of winemaking.
Five Leading Durbach Wineries To Check Out
When you visit, make sure to check out these five favourite wineries when visiting the Ortenau.
Of course, the list is not exhaustive and if you have the time there are many more wineries in the area definitely worth a visit too!
Weingut Markgraf von Baden – Schloss Staufenberg
The restored 11th century fortress perched on top of the rolling hills just outside Durbach belongs to the family of the Margrave of Baden since 1693 and a leading spot for winemaking. In fact, it’s believed the vineyards on the slopes surrounding the site have been planted to vines even before the castle was build.
What’s definitely known is that Margrave Carl Friedrich of Baden first ordered the planting of Riesling grapes in 1782 on the Klingenberg plot. And today ‘Klingenberger’ Riesling is regarded to be at the centre of the region’s Riesling tradition.
Winemaking of course continues at Castle Staufenberg and it’s home of one of the two Markgraf von Baden wineries (the second one is located at Schloss Salem further south in proximity to Lake Constance).
Once you have climbed up the road to the Castle (OK, you can also drive if you prefer the lazy way), you are rewarded with stunning views over the surrounding vineyard ant the Rhine Valley and nearby Strasbourg.
On warm days, enjoy local wines and food right on the terrace or alternatively in the wine bar. Both are managed by Dominic Müller from Hotel Ritter Durbach, a renowned culinary hotspot in the little wine town.
Weingut Graf Wolff Metternich
Though you might not be reminded of a castle upon entering the little town of Durbach and driving by the buildings forming part of today’s Wolff Metternich winery. Nevertheless, still today referred to as ‘Castle Grohl’ the site looks back at an intriguing family and winemaking history.
Since 1180 Castle Grohl belonged to the noble Strasbourg family Zorn von Bulach, who started to make wine here in 1381. In 1830, Ernst Maximilian Baron of Zorn von Bulach introduced Sauvignon Blanc grapes to the area for the first time. Later, in 1936, the winery was taken over by a descendant of the Zorn von Bulach family, Imperial Princess Wolff Metternich zur Gracht. It stayed in the Metternich family until 1995.
Today, Wolff Metternich is owned by Gertaud Hurrle, who led the winery into a new era of modern and biodynamic winemaking. On occasion, you might find her greeting visitors in the little tasting room and wine shop herself.
A wide range of awards is testimony to the excellent quality of Wolff Metternich wines, so definitely pop into the tasting room to try some of their leading wines, including the Riesling and various burgundy wines.
Weingut Andras Laible
Though you might have to be a diehard wine enthusiast to be familiar with the wines of Andreas Laible, the winery is perhaps the most awarded in the whole Baden area, counting more than 800 gold medals awarded to their name in regional and national as well as a couple international competitions.
With a winemaking tradition in the family going back to 1672, it’s perhaps no surprise the tradition is now carried on by sons Andreas and Alexander. The older, Andreas, is now the winemaker at Andreas Laible alongside this father, Andreas senior.
Both Andreas senior and junior are putting the highest priority on preserving the grape’s own aromas in the wine. Therefore, fermentation is taking place exclusively in steel tanks and whenever possible, only natural yeasts are used.
Perched on top of the rolling slopes just a few minutes walking distance from the little wine town of Durbach, the winery offers beautiful views over the surrounding area too.
On nice days, enjoy wine tasting outside the small tasting room.
Weingut Alexander Laible
Nestled right at the entrance to scenic Durbach Valley, Alexander Laible winery is just a few minutes from away from the little town by car (or a nice 30 minute hike along the vineyards).
Born with a 350-year DNA of family winemaking, the younger son of local wine making bedrock Andreas Laible (senior) has released the first wines to its own name in 2006.
Continuing the family tradition, Alexander is looking at a large range of awards, including ‘Young Winemaker of the Year 2009’.
In front of the modern winery, a 160-year-old mill, carefully restore by Alexander Laible, is the location for special wine tastings. Otherwise, guests are welcomed at the little tasting room and wine shop.
Weingut Andreas Männle
Leaving Durbach towards Oberkirch, Andreas Männle winery is nestled along the road just a 30-minute hike (or 5 minutes by car) away, offering scenic views over the surrounding vineyards and nearby Castle Staufenberg.
The winery was founded in 1919 though winegrowing at the site goes back all the way to the 16th century. Today winemaker Alfred Männle together with his son Thomas are at the helm of operations in the third and forth generation.
The winery is one of the most awarded in the region and among the awards is one as ‘most beautiful tasting room (Vinothek) in the Ortanau.
Personally, I’d go as far as saying, it’s definitely deserving to be among the best designed tasting rooms across Germany. Indeed, it officially ranks within the Top 50.
Have you explored any of the wineries (or wines) of the beautiful Ortenau region? I’d be curious about your experience. Which one did you like most?