Stuttgart Wine Culture: Viniculture permeates city

View from the Untertuerkheimer Rundwanderweg, wine walk during October in Stuttgart, Germany by Slade Walters.

By Carola Meusel
USAG Stuttgart Public Affairs Office

In Stuttgart, many legends revolve around wine. Some think that the Romans planted the first grapevines in Bad Cannstatt more than 2,000 years ago when settling along the Neckar River. Others believe that monks cultivated wine in the region.

All that’s known factually is based on a historic document from 1108 stating that a monk named Ulrich presented the Blaubeuren Monastery with wine hills in Stuttgart, according to Bernhard Nanz, director of the “Weingut,” or vineyard, of the city of Stuttgart. Also, during the 17th century, Stuttgart was considered one of the largest wine growing regions within the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation, according to the Stuttgart website.

To this day, the wine-growing industry influences the city in many ways since Stuttgart is surrounded by, even situated within, wine hills.

Grapevines grow on a 400-hectare area and 3.5 million liters of local wine is produced annually, according to Nanz. However, the area’s annual wine consumption of 20 million liters far exceeds the local wine production.

About 500 wine-growing associations cultivate and sell wines in 16 of Stuttgart’s 23 city districts.

“We have a unique wine growing area based on the warm climate within the valley and sunny hillsides,” Nanz said. Steep terraces covered in grape-vines are ideal for wine growing. Stone walls hold the terraces in place while storing the heat from the sun and transferring it to the grapevines, he added.

Stuttgart is the only large city in Germany with its own winery that grows, produces and sells wines. Its vineyard is comprised of 17 hectares of grapevines and produces 150,000 bottles per year.

Wine is cultivated throughout the Mönchhalde area including Hasenberg, Neue Weinsteige, Karlshöhe, Birkenwaldstrasse, as well as Cannstatter Zuckerle along the Zuckerberg (Sugar Mountain), and Cannstatter Halde. Here, grapevines grow on travertine soil, a form of limestone that typically makes for an elegant and full-flavored wine.

Some of the Stuttgart vineyard’s oldest grapevines are on Mönchhalde, such as the 50-year-old Saint-Laurent (red wine).

Grape varieties range from Trollinger, a red grape mainly used to produce rose wines and wine secco, to Spätburgunder, Lemberger and Cabernet Sauvignon, to Riesling, Kerner, Silvaner and Müller-Thurgau white wines.

According to Nanz, some wine lovers favor cuvee, a blend of grape varieties. As for Stuttgart’s winery, it produces four red and two white wine cuvees that are served throughout some of the city’s well-known wine restaurants, he said.

“Enjoying wine that grows in front of one’s front door is the secret to local identity. One can taste the heart of the city,” Nanz said.

Wines from the Stuttgart Weingut can be purchased at Sulzerrainstrasse 24, 70372 Stuttgart-Bad Cannstatt. The winery is open Monday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. For more information, visit here.

Interested in finding out more about local wines? Check out these activities:

Stuttgart’s Weinwanderweg site lists suggested routes through the vineyards with wineries and restaurants along the way. For information, visit www.stuttgarter-weinwanderweg.de.

Esslingen Weinwandertag – May
Start the hike in the traditional Weinwandertag in Esslingen either at the Frauenkirche in Esslingen (direction Weinberge / Mettinger Tor) or at the wine press in Esslingen-Mettingen in the direction of Stadtmitte to the Hof der Webergasse 7.

At six tasting tables setup along the walk through the vineyards, Esslinger wines can be tasted where they thrive. Also, the wines are named after historic Esslinger landmarks. Purchase a sample at each stand to receive a free wine tasting at the finish (Kelter or Webergasse 7) where food and musical entertainment are also staged from noon on into the evening. Parking is available in the city center in the car parks or in Mettingen. Public transit is preferred. An S-Bahn connection to the city center as well as to Mettingen is available. From the Esslingen train station, or from the S-Bahn station in Mettingen, the wine trail is easy to reach. For more information, visit here.

“Weindorf” Stuttgart – August/September
Stuttgart’s annual “Weindorf,” or wine village, is held typically the last week in August through the first week of September in downtown Stuttgart. More than 500 wines from the Württemberg and Baden regions can be accompanied with traditional Swabian dishes such as “Maultaschen” (meat and vegetable-stuffed noodles), “Zwiebelrostbraten” (roast beef with sautéed onions) and “Bubaspitzle” (potato noodles mainly served with sauerkraut). The fest is open daily from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday through Wednesday, and from 11 a.m. until midnight Thursday through Saturday. For more information, visit here.

Wine Hike – September
The city of Stuttgart’s winery offers a wine hike the end of September through Mönchhalde. Along a two-kilometer trail, patrons can sample Lemberger, Riesling, Saint-Laurent and Weissburgunder wines at five booths. A hearty “Vesper,” a meal consisting of bread, cold cuts and cheese, will be offered as well.
For more information, visit here.

Untertürkheimer Rundwanderweg – Ongoing
Circular walks through vineyards, gardens and forest with views of the Swabian Alb and the Neckar valley in Untertürkheim. For more information, visit here.

City and Wine Tour – Ongoing
For those interested in seeing Stuttgart’s historic downtown area and some of its most prominent landmarks while learning about and sampling wine, the “Stuttgart After Work – City and Wine” tour makes for a delightful outing. The tour takes off from I-Punkt Tourist Information at 7 p.m. and ends with a wine tasting at a Swabian restaurant. For English-guided tours, call civ. 0711-22281-00, or visit here.

Wine Growing Museum – Ongoing
At the “Weinbaumuseum,” or wine-growing museum, located in a historic winery (“Kelter”) in Uhlbach, visitors can learn all about wine, from growing to harvesting to bottling. A wine press from 1885 is also on exhibit. Displays are in German and English. At the museum’s wine bar visitors can sample wine from a variety of Stuttgart wineries.

The Weinbaumuseum, located at Uhlbacher Platz 4, 70329 Stuttgart, is open Thursday and Friday from 2-8 p.m., Saturday from 2-6 p.m., Sunday and German holidays (except Christmas, New Year and Easter) from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. For English-guided tours, call civ. 0711-2228-122. For more information, visit here.