Ahr Valley Travel Guide, Germany | Moon & Honey Travel

Ahr Valley

Ahr Valley Travel Guide

The Ahr Valley (Ahrtal in German) is a region in Rhineland Palatinate and North Rhine-Westphalia that surrounds the narrow River Ahr. It’s also Germany’s largest red wine growing region. Red grapes are able to grow and ripen here, because of the warm microclimate created by the volcanic slate cliffs and soil. The Ahr’s most notable red wines are Spätburgunder (pinot noir), Portugieser, Dornfelder, and Frühburgunder. If you prefer white wine like us, the Ahr also produces exceptional blanc de noir wines.

The Ahr feels like a local secret. Unlike the Moselle Valley and Upper Middle Rhine, there aren’t many foreign tourists who know about the Ahr. During your visit, you’ll be surrounded by locals.

The best way to experience the Ahrtal is by drinking wine, and even better, by hiking the Red Wine Trail (Rotweinwanderweg) while drinking wine. And if you’ve had enough wine, then we recommend venturing to Regierungsbunker for a guided tour of a Cold War government bunker, built between 1960 and 1972. There’s also one Therme (thermal bath spa) located in Bad Neuenahr, which is a good option for a rainy day.

 

When to Visit the Ahr Valley

We visited twice in summer and had a great time. However, early Fall is probably the most rewarding time to visit, as wine festivals are in full swing in the Ahr’s wine-growing towns.

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Ahr Valley, Germany Travel Guide - what to do in Germany's red wine region

Ahr Valley Travel Guide Overview

  • Red Wine Trail (Rotweinwanderweg) – trail options
  • What to Eat & Drink in the Ahr Valley
  • German Wine Terminology – so you can drink like a pro
  • Local Insight about the Ahr Valley – a short Q&A
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Ahr Valley Travel Guide, Germany | Moon & Honey Travel

Red Wine Trail (Rotweinwanderweg)

The best way to explore the Ahr Valley is by hiking the Red Wine Trail (Rotweinwanderweg). This 35 km hiking trail leads from Altenahr to Bad Bodendorf and is divided into several stages. It winds through steep terraced vineyards and connects several small wine villages. The trail is easy, mostly flat, and clearly signed with a red grape motif. The point of this hike is to savor the local wine, and hop slowly from one winemaking village to another. Here are the stages of the hike:

  • Altenahr – Mayschoss: 4 km
  • Mayschoss – Rech: 3 km
  • Rech – Dernau: 4 km
  • Dernau – Marienthal: 4 km
  • Marienthal – Walporzheim: 3.1 km
  • Walporzheim – Ahrweiler: 3.4 km
  • Ahrweiler – Bad Neuenahr: 6.7 km
  • Bad Neuenahr – Heppingen:  2.3 km
  • Heppingen – Heimerscheim: 1.1 km
  • Heimerscheim – Lohrsdorf: 1.4 km
  • Lohrsdorf – Bad Bodendorf: 2 km

 

Red Wine Trail Hike Option 1 – Altenahr to Dernau

We hiked the stretch from Altenahr to Dernau. The trail begins at Burg Are, built around 1100. If you climb to the top of the castle ruins, you’ll be rewarded with a great view of the valley. The hike continues in the direction of Mayschoß. From the hills of the vineyards, you’ll see the small village of Mayschoß happily situated on the riverbed of the Ahr. We stopped at Weinhaus Michaelishof for a glass of wine on their sunny terrace.  Next, we hiked to the town of Rech to visit the Weingut O. Schell. We ordered a plate of bread with various spreads and sampled their Domina, Blanc de Noir Frühburgunder, Blanc de Noir Spätburgunder Feinherb (exceptional!), and Inspiration Rosé. Blanc de Noir is a white wine made from red grapes. Next, we hiked to Dernau and ended our day at Hofgarten Weingut Meyer Näkel.

 

Red Wine Trail Hike Option 2 – Mayschoß to Ahrweiler

We wanted to re-hike the beautiful stages between Mayschoß and Dernau, before tackling a new section of the trail. The highlight of this hike was our lunch at Weingut Kloster Marienthal – a winery located in an old monastery. The setting is gorgeous, as is the wine and cuisine. Definitely eat the Flammkuchen and Rotweinkuchen (red wine cake) and drink the Spätburgunder Blanc de Noir. The end destination, Ahrweiler (where we stayed the night),  is a charming walled town.

Rotweinwanderweg Trail, Ahr Valley | Moon & Honey Travel
Ahr Valley Travel Guide, Germany | Moon & Honey Travel

What to Eat & Drink in the Ahr Valley

Eat

Sauerbraten – translates as “sour roast.” Sauerbraten is made by marinating a beef roast in a sour-sweet marinade for 2 to 3 days before browning it. Next, the meat simmers in the marinade for several hours, which makes it very tender.

 

Halve Hahn – translates as “half a chicken.” This is somewhat of a joke, as there is no chicken in this dish. Halve Hahn is simply a rye roll, halved and topped with Gouda cheese. Mustard, pickles and onions are generally served on the side.

 

Reibekuchen (also called Kartoffelpuffer) – translates as “grated cakes.” It’s essentially a deeply fried potato pancakes made with potatoes, onions and eggs. It’s popular to eat these on the street at Christmas markets, fairs and sports events.  They’re delicious, but don’t over do it. You’ll die.

 

Flammkuchen – Alsatian pizza. Thin rectangular dough topped with various vegetables, cheeses and meats (no tomato sauce).

 

Rinderroulade – a meat dish which consists of bacon and onions, wrapped in a thin slice of beef, and then cooked. The meat is characteristically tender and soft. The dish is presented with usually 1-2 side dishes and gravy over the meat.

 

Wine

Red Wine. Spätburgunder (pinot noir), Dornfelder, Frühburgunder, Portugieser

White Wine. Spätburgunder Blanc de Noir (white wine made with red grapes).

 

Essential Wine Tasting Words

Here are some essential wine tasting terms that will guide you throughout the Ahr and other wine regions in Germany.

Wine Tasting

Weingut (pl. Weingüter) – winery

Weinprobe (pl: Weinproben) – wine tasting

Wein probieren – wine to try

Weinkeller – wine cellar

Kellereibesichtigung (pl. Kellereibesichtigungen) – wine cellar viewing

Places to Drink Wine

Weingarten – wine tavern with outdoor seating (think “biergarten”)

Weinstube (pl. Weinstuben) – wine tavern

Weinlokal (pl. Weinlokale) – wine tavern

Weinschänke (pl. Weinschänken) – wine tavern

Wine Buying and Selling

Weinverkauf (pl. Weinverkäufe) – wine-selling

Wein zu verkaufen – wine to sell

Weinladen – wine shop

Vinothek – wine store

Weinhandel – wine trade

Winzer – winemaker

Wine Regions

Anbaugebiet – a major wine region

Weinbaugebiet (pl. Weinbaugebiete) – wine region in Germany

Bereich – a district within the wine region

Großlage – a collection of vineyards within a district

Einzellage – a single vineyard

Ahr Valley Travel Guide, Germany | Moon & Honey Travel

Local Insight

We were able to connect with Alexander, an Ahr Valley local and blogger at Home Away From Home. He kindly answered our questions.

When’s the best time to visit the Ahr Valley? The perfect time to visit the Ahr is around September and October. The color of the vines are turning yellow and red, the vintners are harvesting the grapes and the temperature is perfect for a hiking tour.

 

What’s your favorite winery in the Ahr? Honestly, I’m not the greatest fan of pinot noir wines. But, I really like the pinot noir from the Jean Stodden winery. I especially like their “Großes Gewächs” pinot noir.

 

Do you have any tips for drinking wine in Germany? White wines should be mainly enjoyed when they are young and fresh. High quality products are often labbled “Großes Gewächs“. Those wines are made from the best grapes and vineyards. Those wines can also be savored after several years. Most of the wineries and cooperatives offer tastings and they are pleased to give advise and to provide interested visitors with a lot of background information.

 

How is German wine culture different from that of other countries? The size of the wineries are quite small, especially compared to the so called “new world” wineries. But, the quality standards are high. You will find in Germany one of the best Rieslings in the world and the prices for the wines are really attractive. Also, you should not miss local varieties like Silvaner and Kerner.

Ahr Valley Travel Guide, Germany | Moon & Honey Travel

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