Hiking the Saxon Wine Trail is divided into 6 daily stages averaging 8 miles, or 5 to 6 hours of walking per day. 2022 is 30th Anniversary.
The Saxon Wine Trail, a 50 mile walk and wine tasting experience through more than 850 years of wine making, is easily divided into six stages with an average of eight miles or five to six hours of walking a day. This region of German, nicknamed the Saxon Rivera, follows parts of the Elbe River as it winds its way through countryside near such historic Saxon towns as Pirna, Meissen and Dresden, all renowned for their porcelain, art, architecture, history and castles. With temperatures averaging about 75 degrees during summer and orchards and vineyards brimming with fruit, the trail is also lovely in autumn when the leaves are ablaze of colors. For those who’d rather drive, it’s 34 miles by car.
Either way, according to Victoria Larson, USA Press Representative, State Tourist Board, visitors can sample over 60 grape varieties – including Riesling, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir, but also Traminer, Scheurebe and the Goldriesling, which is only grown on the Elbe.
“You will pass beautiful villas and magnificent castles,” says Larson. “A detour into the old town of Dresden leads to the Zwinger, Semper Opera and Frauenkirche. In Radebeul, you can take time to visit the Saxon Wine Museum Hoflößnitz and the beautiful 850-year old winery in Europe at Wackerbarth Castle where you can treat yourselves to fabulous tours, meals and a great gift shop. The journey continues to Meissen: the imposing castle hill with the cathedral and Albrechtsburg Castle can be seen from afar. The WineExperienceWorld of the Saxon Winegrowers’ Cooperative Meissen offers information and insights into the history and current practices of winegrowing in the area.”
In the last 40 years, Saxony has experienced a true renaissance of wine growing with young and experimental vintners leading the way. Although Saxony is still Germany’s smallest and northernmost wine region, currently there are not only many professional growers but also about 1000 hobby winemakers. Typically grapes are grown on hillside terraces requiring that most tending and harvesting be done by hand.
The northern starting point of the Saxon Wine Route is the charming village of Diesbar-Seusslitz with its beautiful baroque castle surrounded by formal gardens.
The most prominent winery of the route is Schloss Proschwitz housed in a baroque-style castle built by one of Saxony’s oldest families who lost their home after WWII but bought it back after reunification. With dedication, labor and love, they recreated one of Saxony’s leading and largest privately owned wineries. Their wine production includes a range of wines from Pinot Gris and Pint Blanc to Müller-Thurgau and Goldriesling, a Saxony speciality. The castle and vineyard are year-round destinations for events and weddings as well as the concerts that are part of Dresden’s famous music festivals.
Not far away, Meissen, once the seat of the Saxon electors which gives it a special prominence in this historic land, also has extensive vineyards.
“Two trademarks of this 1000-year-old city on the Elbe are the Albrechtsburg, an enormous Gothic cathedral, and the well-known Meissen porcelain manufactory, MEISSEN, a must-visit destination for anyone interested in design and craft, jewelry, art and architecture,” says Larson.
The capital city of Dresden with its magnificent skyline is notable for the dome of the Protestant Church of Our Lady (Frauenkirche), the smaller dome of the Catholic Palace Church (Hofkirche), the roof line of the Semper Opera and the ornate gates to the museums in the Zwinger Palace.
Just down the river, the next highlight is Castle Pillnitz, the summer palace of the Wettin kings and Saxon electors. The baroque palace is home to the Arts and Crafts Museum of the Dresden State Art Collection as well as a castle museum and has an extensive formal garden and park. The most spectacular way to get to the palace is by paddle boat from Dresden as the riverbank is lined with beautiful villas and castles built by noble families who wanted to be near the king.
A magnificent winery in Pillnitz with views over the Elbe River Valley is Weingut Klaus Zimmerling, where visitors can stay for a wine tasting and view the fields and the outstanding sculptures by Malgorzata Chodakowska.
The last stop on Saxony’s Wine Trail is the medieval town of Pirna, the gateway to Saxon Switzerland. Pirna is famed beyond the borders of Saxony due to the paintings by Venetian artist Bernardo Bellotto, the nephew of the famous Italian painter, Canaletto, who often took his uncle’s name to further his own reputation. The medieval town is much as it has always been and features winding streets, leading visitors in between town houses, charming courtyards and numerous fountains, and taking you on a journey through the past.
Every autumn, towns like Pirna and Radebeul host wine festivals where visitors get to taste the local wines and meet regional growers. Saxony and Dresden is an easy car or train ride from Berlin or Frankurt both of which have many direct flights from the U.S. and Canada.