Last weekend my husband and I took a little road trip to the world’s most northern red wine dominated wine region, Ahr! Since recently I have been living between two cities, one of which has zero vineyards nearby, *gasp*…I know right? I decided it would be good for my peace of mind to check out the closest wine region to my new second home.
After about an hour and a half putting along in our little silver Twingo, she’s not exactly a speed demon, but you can park her anywhere!, we pulled off the autobahn and turned into the Ahr Valley. I could hardly believe my eyes – the word ‘stunning’ isn’t enough to justify how gorgeous this place is.
The entire wine-growing area spans over a total of just 25 beautiful kilometres, with vineyards situated mainly along the middle and lower parts of the Ahr river. All in, there are only about 550 ha of vineyards – more than 85% of which are planted with red wine varietals. It’s one of Germany’s smallest wine regions, and it’s Spätburgunder (Pinot Noir) heaven!
Since the region is situated so far north I had a hard time understanding how it could be possible for the red varietals to ripen. But once I arrived, and climbed (not so gracefully…) up the face of the steep Marienthaler Trotzenberg vineyard, I began to understand. It was May, but it felt like August in the middle of the southwest to southeast facing slopes. With most vineyards benefiting from the protection of the Eifel hills, it is said that Ahr actually has a Mediterranean micro-climate! By the time I slipped and slid my way back down over the loose slate and volcanic stones I was ready for a glass of wine. And luckily for me, I was in the right place.
The predominantly terraced slopes of the Ahr valley stretch upwards along the winding road and are broken up by humble wineries – most of which offer quaint garden terraces where you can stop for lunch and enjoy a glass of wine in the afternoon sun. And that’s exactly what we did.
At the foot of the vineyards stood a winery that I was particularly excited to visit, Weingut Paul Schumacher – a definite insiders tip! We walked in unannounced and immediately met Paul and his wife Anne who started the winery together in 1988 and today have 5 hectares of vineyards. Anne was incredibly hospitable and so lovely to chat to! She let us taste every wine on the list (about 20 wines) and even went the extra mile to line them all up next to each other so we could taste them side-by-side and go back and compare. The wines were phenomenal!! My favourites were the 2015 Marienthaler Trotzenberg Spätburgunder, the 2015 Carpe Diem Spätburgunder, the 2017 Leutesdorfer Gartenlay Riesling and the 2017 Blanc de Noir, which I have now added to my list of ‘Perfect Summer Wines’!
So, if you are looking for the perfect little European weekend road trip destination – add Ahr to your list. Trust me friends. It’s a magically modest little paradise for wine-lovers!