If you’re a wine lover, visiting Germany is a must, especially if you’re a fan of rieslings. I’m still on the hunt for a proper riesling here in Canada that compares even remotely to the spectacular, floral nectars we enjoyed in Germany.
There are plenty of ways to bring out the wine lover in you if you visit Trier. Here are just a few ways to try the local tipples and develop your appreciation for German wines and wineries.
A Brief History of Wine in Trier
Trier was founded in 16 BC, and was a major Roman outpost. The Roman conquerors needed a local source of wine for their garrisons, so they brought grape vines to the Moselle Valley over two thousand years ago. As Germany’s oldest city, Trier has a lengthy history of grape cultivation and winemaking. “Wine villages” popped up in the Middle Ages, which included paths linking local vineyards to the city center.
The Riesling grape became the Moselle Valley’s claim to fame in the 17th Century. The cool temperatures in the Moselle region combined with porous slate impart the Riesling wines with their characteristic mineral and fruity-floral tasting notes.
Take a Winery Tour
First off, I would recommend taking a guided bus tour to some local wineries to get a good introduction to the local wines. The tour we took was specifically for the Georg Fritz von Nell winery, which included bus transfer to the winery, a tour and tasting of four different wines. We also had supper at the winery, but the cost was not included in the tour price.
You can also visit the oldest wine cellar in Germany. Built in 330 AD, when Trier was a Roman imperial city, this wine cave is an experience you won’t soon forget! Advance booking is recommended.
Contact: Tel. +49 (0) 651 97808-0
Wednesdays and Fridays, 11.00 a.m.
Stiftungsweingut, Krahnenufer 19, 54290 Trier
For additional winery tours, check the Trier Tourism and Marketing website.
Grab a Glass at the Hauptmarkt Wine Stand
During the warmer months, you may find a pop-up wine bar right smack-dab in middle of the Hauptmarkt (Main Market Square). Trier is located on the banks of the Moselle, arguably one of the best wine regions in Germany. Local winemakers from the Trier region showcase their wines here, and some of them you may not find anywhere else.
The wines are reasonably priced, so you can try a few without breaking the bank. Just don’t wander too far, since they serve the wine in real glasses!
The Hauptmarkt is especially interesting on market days. Trier loves white asparagus (spargel in German). There were stalls selling nothing but white asparagus. You think I’m kidding but I’m not. This was just one of several stalls selling nothing else except white asparagus.
Hours of Operation:
The wine stand is open from late March to early November, from 10am to 10pm.
Hauptmarkt hosts a daily market from Monday through Saturday.
Walk the Wine Culture Path
If you want to walk along miles and miles of vineyards, check out the Wine Culture Path (Weinkulturpfad). It’s a short walk from the Trier Amphitheater. Just follow the well-marked signage:
My only issue with the signage is that everything was in German, and my High School-level German is nicht so gut now. So we followed the little grape sign to where the main path started. But without being able to read all of the signage along the way, we weren’t able to get the most out of the walk.
The Association of Olewig Wine Growers maintains the Wine Culture Path, which runs for approximately 1600 m. If you walk far enough, the path takes you to the wine village of Olewig.
The interpretive signs along the way introduce you to different aspects of wine cultivation, such as the interconnectivity between grape varieties, climate and soil.
This wayfinding sign was helpful to show where the main attractions are in Trier from where we were standing.
Unfortunately I could only make out a few words on the interpretive signs in the vineyards, so the information they conveyed was lost on us. Still, the views from the hills were lovely.
In order to get the most out of the Wine Culture Path, I would highly recommend taking a guided tour. This way you’ll get the most out of the hike and be able to ask questions along the way!
Trier Tourismus und Marketing GmbH
Tourist information, city tour department
at Porta Nigra
Tel. +49 (0) 651 97808 -52, -21, -20
Have Supper at Weinstube Kesselstatt
One evening while looking for a place for supper that would have a decent local wine selection, we inquired at the visitor center and they recommended trying Weinstube Kesselstatt.
“Weinstube” is a very important word to look for in Germany. It basically translates to wine room or wine bar. Luckily, you’ll see that word a lot here!
It was a little hard to find the restaurant as it was tucked away down a narrow street in the shadow of the High Cathedral of Saint Peter. But that actually made it kind of cool, since this became our view during our meal:
The restaurant has a large outdoor seating area, which is where we chose to sit. This option always comes with pros and cons in Europe – pro – you’re outdoors and get to people-watch and enjoy the lovely weather. Con – smokers. So if you have real issues with cigarette smoke, choosing indoor seating may be preferable.
This restaurant also has a bit of a different set-up from most dining establishments. You don’t place your order with wait staff, you have to go inside and place your order from the large boards behind the counter. You pay immediately, and they give you your drink order and a little sign with your table number. This system appears to be more efficient than having wait staff coming around to take orders repeatedly throughout the evening. And the really nice thing about this place, is that everything is handmade in-house, right down to the salad dressings and sauces.
Neither of us were particularly hungry though, since we’d spent most of the day snacking on street food and gelato. Mark chose a light meal of new baby potatoes and spargel, white asparagus with hollandaise sauce. This was something of a phenomenon to me, this apparent obsession the Germans had with white asparagus. It was everywhere. We had never tried it before, although we had both had the standard green asparagus before, and I can’t say I’m a fan. It’s too….feet-y tasting.
So this white asparagus? It’s actually very different tasting than green. It’s mild, not feet-y flavoured at all, and can even be described as sweet. It was the first time I could genuinely say I like asparagus.
I ordered a simple salad with feta cheese, which had a wonderful delicate, creamy homemade salad dressing on it. You can see in the background of the photo the “self service” card placed on each table which explains how to order your meals.
And the wines? Oh my gosh, the wines were lovely. We became absolutely enamoured with sweet German rieslings on this trip. The folks at this restaurant know their stuff when it comes to wines, so if you can’t make up your mind, do get their opinion, that’s what they’re there for! They even offer wine tastings for groups if that’s more your thing.
I think food always tastes better outside anyway, but with a view like this, it’s hard not to enjoy everything about Weinstube Kesselstatt. And yes, that includes the white asparagus.