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German Winefest

29 September, 2011

One of the great parts of living in Germany in the summer and fall are festivals. In this region, namely wine festivals. Ali and I heard about one from a friend and decided to do our date night there a few Saturdays ago. So here is a view of a typical German Winefest.

I’ve Never Been to.. Where the heck are we?

The backdrop to the festival is the town. This one was in Emmendingen only 10 minutes out from Freiburg on the train. This is a fairly compact(read small) village but with enough space for three stages each in a square and 20+ wine tents. In classic German fashion the transport is pretty good. The trains run every 30 minutes and extra buses were added just for the festival. The station was only 2 minutes walking from the first stage.

Festival Eats

What is a festival (or indeed any party) in Germany without food. This however being Germany wurst was plentiful and in many shapes and flavors. Flammkuchen (a local type of pizza with cream sauce instead of tomato sauce) and whole roast chickens were also offered from stands along the way between squares. We got to town and were already hungry. We found a stall grilling sausages on open coals and got ourselves each one to have food before we started drinking.

Roast Chicken

It is common to have specific stalls that travel about Germany setting up at festivals. These are the festival standards. No town really has enough local places to feed all those people so these other stalls just go from event to event. However especially in small towns, a festival is a chance for a local establishment to make some extra customers. Sometimes it is hard to distinguish the difference except that the storefront behind the stall is named the same. The two local places that stood out were asian. We ended up going back and getting chicken and noodles later in the evening. It was pretty good. The place was named for Saigon but in a small German village and housed in what looked like a building that was once a local tavern brewery, still with the sign on the outside. Some sort of historical preservation perhaps?

Wine

The point of the festival is of course the wine. A whole bunch of local wineries (this is German wine country you know) each had a stall. They were serving single glass portions of any of their wines. This was a great way to taste a bunch of wines without driving. It also was a fun night.

Each glass was 1/10 of a liter (about a third of a soda can) and 2 euros on average. We did see some as much as 3 and had one at 1.60. In classic German fashion, you pay a deposit for the glass and carry it around with you. Each stand has the same glasses and will take back glasses from any other stand so it makes perfect sense to wander around and listen to the music and be entertained. During the whole night we had 4 different wines with a few that we liked enough to double up on. All in all, it was cheaper than going to sit at a bar and drink wine. The stalls had the full bottles for sale as well. We saw a number of people just walking around with the bottle and a glass.

Other drinks were available too. Again being Germany both beer and coffee were in evidence. There was one stand that was doing cocktails. The crowds of young people around it was staggering. Non-alcoholic was available as well in a lot of the food stands.

Entertainment

There were stages with bands playing in several different plazas around town. In the main square we stood and listened to a band playing acapella/acoustic mixes of rock songs. Ummm Nirvana does not sound right without electric guitar. It was however fun to listen to and do some people watching.

As with the food, often local businesses will sponsor events during the festival either music or other. We ended up catching the end of a fashion show that was hilarious. We rounded the corner into some classic eighties tunes belting out. Germany often seems stuck in the eighties music wise and both Ali and I enjoy this kind of music. The show however was even better. The piece we saw was of young people showing off local traditional German clothes. Shown off to 80’s music. With most of them wearing sunglasses at night. When they walked off stage, they were wearing Vans sneakers and had their collars turned up frat-boy style.  Maybe it was the wine, but Ali and I couldn’t stop laughing.

Festivals are Fun

The summer in Germany is full of these type of festivals. Wine is a common theme, though sausage and of course beer can be found at any of the festivals. It is well worth your time if you happen to be anywhere near Germany to look up a local festival. This one was in our backyard and I would not have known about it without a tip, so they can definitely be off the beaten path. Despite this there were plenty of people and yet nearly no tourists, so it is a good way to get a piece of local culture and local food and drink.

This kind of thing can be family friendly as well. We certainly saw enough kids around and the festival was doing a family day as well, presumably with different entertainment options.

 

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18 Responses to German Winefest

  1. Pingback: What to See in Freiburg, Germany - Freiburg Travel Tips

  2. Pingback: German Summers are for Festivals - Grounded Traveler

  3. You had me at “Wine” hahaha… love it. In fact, you’ve inspired me. I’m off to drink a gallon or two of wine right now.

    • Andrew says:

      Wow. Don’t blame your drinking on me. ;) This fest was indeed pretty good wine.
      It is new wine season now. As soon as I can get a good day for pictures at the market, I will do a post on it. They call it new sweet and it is cloudy and sweet, but still with a subtle kick.

  4. Andrea says:

    Mmm – I’m intrigued by the Flammkuchen. Can’t wait to try German wine – love the beer, of course, but we drank heaps at Oktoberfest and I’ve heard great things about the selection of wines in and around Freiburg.

    • Andrew says:

      German Wine and Flammkuchen is definitely something we can get for you. Looking forward to hanging out. Let’s hope the weather holds.
      Check the market around the Cathedral, it may be New Wine season. The unfiltered sweet, but still alcoholic, new wine is sold in small cups for a euro or two from bit plastic containers. It’s a good reason to be drinking in the morning.

  5. Writing about a German winefest during Oktoberfest – that’s being unique! I think I would like this better than Oktoberfest. Emmendingen reminds me of Rothenburg.

    • Andrew says:

      Oktoberfest? I think I’ve heard of that. Bavarian I think, no where near us. :)
      I’m sure at one point Rothenburg and Emmendingen were somewhat similar, though different cultures as one if Bavarian and the other Badisch. Freiburg growing kind of overshadows Emmendingen as well, Rothenburg is more isolated.

  6. I love all the amazing little villages in Germany. It would be very fun to spend time at the great festivals in and around. Great recap.. . made me wish I was there!

    • Andrew says:

      To me the villages all begin to blend together just like the churches. Yes they are different in subtle ways, but after two or three they kind of blend together. This was a great fest as now I remember Emmendingen for something special. We were saying how cool a town it looks. Maybe we will go do dinner there at some point and see how it holds up without a fest.

  7. Sabrina says:

    I love, love, love all the little festivals in Germany and have such fond memories of quite a few. As a teenager, these were some of the most fun events we had to look forward to in our little town outside of Cologne :) More beer up there than wine down in the South. And I am jealous of the Flammkuchen you guys have access to. Delicious!

    • Andrew says:

      Yeah, I guess I was surprised with the number of children seemingly wandering without parents. The atmosphere is more comfortable than I think the US would be with a similar thing. Flammkuchen is neat, but can get tiring after a while. It’s nice to have a normal pizza sometimes.

      • Sabrina says:

        Normal pizza is one of my main staples :) Flammkuchen is more the one-in-a-while thing. You’re right though about kids without parents. I remember going alone with my friends when I was 16 or so and before that going with my parents and then doing my own thing with my friends.

        • Andrew says:

          Ok, same for me. I like flammkuchen that is really salty. So with feta, salami and olives. Pizza is a little more wide open.

          That is pretty cool to have that freedom. I remember having some of that even in the US as a kid. But that seems to have been curtailed some in the past years.

  8. Ariana says:

    Ah, fests… This definitely makes me miss Germany! I was always amazed by how seemingly *everyone* in a town would come out for each festival. And I loved that it was fun for all ages and demographics– such a community builder. Enjoy!

    • Andrew says:

      Aww. Don’t they have fests where you are? Maybe different, but still would think the English would do something?

      • Ariana says:

        Well, we’ve been here for two months, and nothing so far. We did do an antique fair that felt similar, but they do those everywhere. Still waiting to find out what the big community events are.

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