Saale-Unstrut Wine Route
The Saale-Unstrut Wine RouteThe Saale-Unstrut Wine Route in Sachsen-Anhalt is not just the most northerly in Germany, but also the most northerly in Europe. It is located on the 51st degree of latitude which is the perfect temperature for cultivating quality wines.
The wine route follows the Saale and Unstrut rivers as they pass through the beautiful Sachsen-Anhalt countryside. Sturdy forts and majestic castles, such as Neuenburg or Rudelsburg, gaze down proudly on the charming river valleys below. The region is ideal for a weekend road trip, lying within easy distance of cities such as Erfurt, Leipzig, Magdeburg or Berlin.
Memleben is the best place to start from, squeezing through the narrow Steinklöbe gorge on the Unstrut and then passing towns like Nebra, Freyburg, Naumburg und Bad Kösen until you reach Bad Sulza.
It goes without saying, but the wine routes detailed on this page are for the benefit of hire car passengers ... designated drivers must confine themselves to drinking in the scenery.
Archaeological treasures: Sky disc of NebraIn 1999 Nebra became an overnight sensation with the discovery of a 3,600 year-old artefact: the sky disc, with a diameter of 31.2 cm and weight of around 2.1 kg. Around the edge of the disc, now on display in the Museum of Prehistory in Halle, are curved gold inlays representing the easterly and westerly horizons and thus sunrise and sunset.
To give you an idea of the importance and significance of the disc, it is currently insured for 100,000,000 euros. A futuristic visitor centre at the discovery site of the disc, the Nebra Ark, explains the sky disc’s significance and history in a light-hearted and entertaining way.
Travel tip: Mansfeld Lakes wine routeBefore setting off on the Saale-Unstrut Wine Route, we recommended warming up with a quick trip along the Mansfeld Lakes Wine Route. The route begins in picturesque Lutherstadt Eisleben and finishes 25 kilometres later just outside Halle, which is fast becoming a popular with wine lovers.
In recent years the village of Höhnstedt has become the leading wine producer on the route. The local climate has certain Mediterranean qualities due to its location in the lee of the Harz Mountains and proximity to the nearby lakes. Around 80 families are involved in the wine business and Weingut Born is a leading light, offering wine and home-cooked treats during the summer months.
A great resource for finding out where to taste the famous Müller-Thurgau and all other local specialities is the VinoInfo, the local office for tourism and culture.
Discover nature: Naturpark Saale-Unstrut TriaslandBeing on the wine route isn’t Nebra’s only claim to fame, it’s also right in the middle of the Naturpark Saale-Unstrut Triasland.
The name is taken from the prehistoric Triassic Age when sedimentary rocks, such as red sandstone, shell limestone and keuper, were formed to create the geological structure which defines the countryside around the Saale and Unstrut rivers today.
On the whopping 103,000 hectares a diverse eco-system has developed around the vineyards, including orchards and wetlands. As a protected nature reserve a wide variety of flora and fauna are able to thrive in this unspoilt environment.
So leave the car keys in your pocket, pick up a paddle and canoe and discover the magic of this unique natural environment.
Wine capital of Sachsen-Anhalt: FreyburgWith only 5,000 inhabitants but a capital nevertheless, this little town on the banks of the Unstrut is the undisputed epicentre of the Saale-Unstrut wine region. Nowhere else around here can you see so many vineyards and terraced hillsides with the characteristic vintner huts.
This is where A-list vintners like Bernhard Pawis perfect their creations and is the home of the Wine Museum which resides high above the town in Schloss Neuenburg. This is where the wine history of Central Germany is recorded and where, on the second weekend of September every year, the Freyburger Wine Festival takes place, the biggest in Central Germany.
The Sachsen-Anhalt is also the home of Rotkäppchen, one of the largest producers of sparkling wine in the country. Their cellars are open daily to visitors all year round and an appointment is not required.
Cultural highlight: Naumburg and Naumburg CathedralIf Freyburg is the wine capital of the region, then Naumburg is without doubt the cultural capital.
This becomes clear when you visit the cathedral which houses the famous Stifterfiguren: these unique sculptures from the 13th century consist of eight men and four women and their realistic presentation is what makes them so impressive. This realism made the Margravine Uta famous as the most beautiful woman of the Middle Ages and made her creator, the "Naumburg Master" - whose identity remains a mystery to this day - equally famous.
There’s so much to see in Naumburg, don’t miss the medieval fortifications such as the Marientor, as well as the gorgeous old grandiose houses in Renaissance and Baroque style grouped around the pretty market square.
Back to the Stone Age: Goseck observatoryThe Nebra sky disk is not the only artefact found in the Saale and Unstrut region that has opened a window to the past. The Goseck Solar Observatory, which is more than 6,800 years old, takes you back in time to when our ancestors studied the patterns of the sky to help them determine, for example, the best time to plant and harvest crops.
The Goseck circle, the oldest known solar observatory, was first spotted from the air in 1991. To get a full understanding of the history and significance of Goseck it’s best to visit the information centre before going to the observatory.
There’s a special audio presentation for children and food and refreshments are available at the Schloss Schenke cafe in the castle courtyard.
Recommended winery: Landesweingut Kloster PfortaThe Landesweingut Kloster Pforta is a winery in a former monastery on the Saale between Naumburg and Bad Kösen and is perfect for a pit stop.
The earliest evidence of wine production here dates from when the monastery was established in 1137. Today the Winery Shop is located in the gatehouse which was built in 1857. You can find the monastery in Schulpforte on the B87 between Naumburg und Bad Kösen.
You can also enjoy the wines and local cuisine in the Saalhäuser Weinstuben restaurant at the vineyard. Relax on the comfortable terrace with superb views of the Saale and the vineyards.
Beautiful Burgenland: RudelsburgLeaving Bad Kösen, home to the excellent winery Weingut Lützkendorf which produces fine wines and is open daily, the Wine Route continues towards the Thuringian state border.
A magical sight awaits you; you will see instantly why this region is known as "the land of castles”. Near Saaleck, the Rudelsburg towers into the sky, rising 85 metres above a steep hillside. The brightest jewel in the “land of castles”, newly restored, with a great restaurant, it’s a go-to place for travellers on the Romanesque Road which also passes here.
Recommendations for hungry and weary travellers:
- Berghotel zum Edelacker, Freyburg
- Weinrestaurant und Hotel zur Sonnenuhr, Freyburg
- Bock’s Café und Restaurant, Naumburg
- Gasthaus und Hotel Zur Henne, Naumburg
- Kaffeehaus, Konditorei und Hotel Schoppe, Bad Kösen (coffee shop, patisserie and hotel)
(1) Winzervereinigung Freyburg; (2) Saale-Unstrut-Tourismus e.V.; (3) Grebennikov Verlag; (4) Rotkäppchen Mumm Sektkellereien GmbH; (5) Linsengericht/CC-BY-SA 3.0; (6) Landesweingut Kloster Pforta; (7) Grebennikov Verlag