duminică, 7 iulie 2013

The Neckar Valley Wine Region

A flourishing urban centre surrounded by forests and vineyards, Stuttgart is also the ideal place for a wine tour. Just a short hop from the main railway station, the vines stretch up across the sunny slopes of the Neckar Valley. You can look back on a long history of wine-making traditions, kept alive on vineyard tours, at numerous wine and vintners' festivals and during the popular Stuttgart Wine Festival. The wine trail is also a fantastic way to explore the hilly vine-clad countryside all around the city – and enjoy some wine tasting along the way.
One of the finest vantage points from which to see the idyllic Neckar valley, the city of Stuttgart and the vast expanse of vineyards is historical Württemberg hill. In the eleventh century it was the site of the ancestral castle of the ruling family of Württemberg. King Wilhelm I had the mausoleum built here in 1820 after the premature death of his beloved wife, the Russian Grand Duchess Katharina.
Roman emperors had planted vineyards across the region back in the third century AD. By the 16th century, Stuttgart was one of the largest winegrowing communities in the Holy Roman Empire. Today locals and visitors to the Stuttgart Region can wander through the vineyards on countless walking trails enjoying the beautiful vineyard scenery, idyllic spots, sensational viewpoints and wayside places of interest.
And one interesting stop is the Stuttgart Viniculture Museum opened in 1979. After extensive renovations, the history of winemaking has been given a fresh new look since September 2012. The result is a contemporary exhibition in historical surroundings. Wines from the Stuttgart region can be sampled at the museum’s vinothek. The wine list offers 20 regional varieties for up to 70 people.
There are few other places in Germany where visitors can experience history as vividly as they can in Esslingen. Half an hour ride from Stuttgart, the town dates back well over a thousand years. Evidence of this long history can be seen in the old quarter with its three town halls, magnificent patrician houses and the oldest row of timber-framed houses in Germany. Esslingen is famous far beyond the region for its long tradition of winemaking. In 1826 this brought Georg Christian Keller to the town, where he founded Germany’s first sekt winery. And if you arrive in Stuttgart and you don’t taste a Kessler sekt, you should come back!
I tasted it and still want to go spend some more days in Stuttgart and surroundings. Nestled in one of the largest wine-producing regions in Germany, this regional capital is an inspiring destination thanks to its superb location, lovely squares, magnificent castles and buildings in a huge variety of architectural styles.

• Shoppers paradise

Stuttgart's restaurants and cafés provide a whole range of gastronomic treats, from spätzle noodles to pinot noir, from corner pubs to award-winning, internationally renowned restaurants. The city's Königstrasse offers more than a kilometer of shopping fun with any number of fashion boutiques, specialist shops, department stores, cafés, restaurants and quiet zones. In Stuttgart's Bohnenviertel, bric-à-brac and antique shops sit amongst charming eateries of all sizes, whilst Calwer Strasse is home to elegant boutiques and a host of restaurants with outdoor terraces. Moreover, in the evenings, Theodor-Heuss-Strasse und the square surrounding the 'Lucky Hans' fountain are particularly recommended, with bars to suit any taste.
Visitors to any of Stuttgart's many festivals will experience for themselves the joie de vivre and hospitality of its residents. After the May Stuttgart Spring Festival, neighboring Bad Canstatt hosts end-September the largest festival in the Swabian region and the second-largest beer festival worldwide – the Cannstatter Wasen. With more than 300 fairground rides and large beer and wine tents, a great time is guaranteed for all!

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