The Mosel Valley may be Germany’s most famous wine region, but the green-terraced hilltops of nearby Radebeul are an ideal place for vino, vineyards and cosy autumn vibes.
When you think of German wines, Dresden is probably not the first place that comes to mind. Grand error, because the Elbtal is a wine region not to be scoffed at, and Radebeul, a suburb of Dresden, is a true etestament to that. The small town boasts a surprisingly vibrant wine scene, enclosed by beautiful, rolling vineyards, castles and wineries dating back to the 18th century.
Although Radebeul is within shouting distance of the Saxon capital, the combination of stately manor hotels (highly recommended for an overnight stay), tiny pastel-coloured houses and terraced hills in rich autumn colours makes Radebeul more a picturesque town than city suburb.
The viticulture-curious ascend to the hilltop vineyard…for a morning of plucking ripe grapes from the vine.
The mineral-rich soil and sunny microclimate, as well as its choice position along the looping Elbe river, have blessed Radebeul with robust grapes that become full-bodied, aromatic Spätburgunder (Pinot Noir) and sweet yet acidic Grauburgunder (Pinot Grigio).
The best part? Despite Radebeul being outside of Brandenburg, you could do the trip in a single day with Deutsche Bahn as your navigator and designated driver. (Though we seriously urge you to consider staying for the weekend.) Simply hop on a regional train in the early morning, slurp your way through the 11 vineyards by day, and jump on the train back in the evening for a sleepy post-booze ride back to Berlin.
The Fall Festival
You’ll get the best wine selection and peak autumn weather anytime between late August and the end of October, but it’s worth planning your trip to coincide with the Herbst & Weinfest, set for September 23-24. This yearly festival showcases regional wines along with hearty food choices like Bratwurst and Käsebrötchen to soak them up while taking in the autumnal landscape.
Jump on the train back in the evening for a sleepy post-booze ride back to Berlin.
To maximise the day, first wander through the vineyards that dot the hillsides, where vintners open their doors for guests to pop in for a glass of the house special with spectacular views overlooking Dresden and the Elbe. As you descend to the festival in town, you’ll find a collection of stalls from local winemakers, serving small portions that allow you to try a handful of samples without getting sloshed.
Entertainment offerings range from the expected (live music, children’s rides) to the truly bizarre (people dressed as frolicking sheep). If you’re lucky, you may even get to rub elbows with the only royalty that matters: the crowned and sashed wine princesses, who float through the festival in glittering Dirndls.
Vintner for a day
If you want to go beyond the glass, some vineyards offer the chance to join in for a day of harvesting – for free. At Weinbau Frédéric Fourré, the viticulture-curious ascend to the hilltop vineyard in the early hours for a morning of plucking ripe grapes from the vine.
Fourré explains how to separate the duds from the heavy bunches of yellow-orange and blushing green grapes that make up the Grüner Veltliners and Rieslings. After the harvest, a lunch spread with plenty of wine accompaniments awaits on his terrace overlooking the vineyards below.
- Train: If you have the €49 ticket, you can make the trip down at no extra cost in about 3.5 hours. Connections depend on the time and day of your departure, so check Deutsche Bahn before you plan your trip. The high-speed trains will get you there significantly faster – around 2 hours.
- Car: The drive is about 2 hours, but keep in mind that you’ll need a designated driver for the journey back. Taking the train is probably your best bet.
For the self-guided wine tours, prices will vary. A 1.5 hour, 3-wine tasting at Hoflößnitz will set you back €18 (book at [email protected]) and a similar tasting at Schloss Wackerbarth is €17 ([email protected]). To join in the harvesting, contact Frédéric Fourré at [email protected].