Thursday, August 1, 2013

The St. Goar Wine Festival

What’s the one thing you think of when you hear Germany in late September?  I think great weather, the Bundesliga in full swing, and a great festival dedicated to drinking.  A scenic 3 hour train ride from Munich took us to one of the great festivals of Germany.  Confused? Yes I said train ride from Munich in late September. The St. Goar Wine Festival may not have the hype or attendance of the other great German festival at that time, but what it does have is great wine in a picturesque Rhine hill town with the same festive atmosphere that Germans bring to the table.

As we pulled into this area nestled along the winding Rhine I couldn't help but think how quiet, relaxing, and full of vineyards the hills are. Bacharach and St. Goar pack great views, great wine, and some of the most inviting people in Germany. We had to find out where our delicious Riesling came from, so being there was a real treat. Picking Bacharach as our home base at this particular time was choosing the sleepier of the 2 towns.  No worries though as there are frequent trains and boats running between the 2.

At Fritz's, she gets the good ones and I get the average ones
We also chose Bacharach because of Fritz’s wheel of 16 wines. 16 varieties of Rhine wine in their own individual glass on a wheel for you to sample before settling on your favorite. Being a couple who never likes to waste a drop we did the wheel proud. We forgot half way through which ones we liked, so we had to guess once we made our after wheel choices.  It was an awesome recommendation and a nice change up from the copious amounts of beer downed on the previous legs of this trip in Belgium and Munich. Add the fact that you are in a sleepy town with a choice of 5 streets that your B&B is on and your stumble back is not quite the adventure it is in say Munich.

We feel no shame in the fact that we'll be
trying your friends soon and enjoying it
We also found that the bike ride between the 2 was good for our health and gave us lasting memories of our time on the Rhine. Who knew though that renting a bike for the day would not only lead to a train ticket purchased? Beyond that it also landed us smack dab in the middle of a festival we didn't know existed. We had just left the largest beer festival on Earth and now were right back into another festival. As we rode along the river on our Mary Poppins bikes complete with basket, I soaked up everything that I could. Endless stretches of hills dotted with vines and castles jutting out of those vineyards around every corner.

As we finally arrived in St. Goar the town was buzzing with action. Every café and restaurant was bursting at the seams (oh yeah and no fast food to be found in these 2 towns, major cultural bonus). The distinct sound of Oom-Pah in the distance along with loud people filled the air. This of course is the mating call of people ingesting some sort of spirits. We rode to the town square to find the sign “Annual St. Goar Wine Festival”.  Jackpot, and it was stumbled upon. That’s like having all 6 numbers plus the Powerball.  1 drink to start and we’d come back later as we had a long bike ride back.

Great way to see the Rhine towns
We parked our bikes and went into the local market as we had planned a wonderful Rhine picnic before heading back. A nice lunch including Paprika Pringles (why can’t we have Paprika flavor in the US, they’re the best) and back to our bikes we strolled. And there it was, a flat tire staring right back at me with an hour bike ride also staring at us.  I knew I had consumed too much sausage and Augustiner in Munich. Thank goodness for the frequent milk run trains and the kind gentleman who actually couldn’t stop laughing as I walked the bike in. I had actually blown out the tube, no hole, no leak, just 10 too many pretzels in Munich.

Cheap train ticket to great wine
That night we hopped back on the train. We were greeted by revelers from around the globe plus fireworks, polka, and wine that never stopped. St. Goar Wine Festival is held annually around the 3rd or 4th weekend in September. All the vintners across the region attend, and you must taste and talk to them about the subtle differences they all bring. Beyond the wine you must also sample the other spirits that they provide. From the most amazing Peach Brandy my lips have ever tasted to their own take on the “Pure” Beer recipe. As always in Germany I took down way too much sausage and this time some great wine. We danced and chatted the night away. We Stood and Sing Ein Prosit even though we were not at the great beer festival that song is for, we still wanted to say Cheers to all.