The visit to Stuttgart was made together with the German Tourist Board, but all opinions and thoughts are, as usual, my own.
On the rolling hills along the river Neckar, viticulture has been part of Stuttgart's history for over two thousand years. It was the Romans who brought the knowledge of viticulture to the area and through the centuries the knowledge and love for the grapes has developed both the grapes and the production. Today, more than 11.000 hectares of the Württemberg wine region's farmland are covered by vineyards and the wine region is Germany's fourth largest.
What is unique about most wineries around Stuttgart is that they are very centrally located and can be reached by local transport. I visited the family owned and operated winery Schwarz, located in the middle of a residential area on the outskirts of Stuttgart. A place where neighbors and friends meet to share moments of joy and fellowship over a good glass of wine.
Today there are over 70 cooperatives in Württemberg, which together produce 75% of the area's wine.
Third generation winemaker
There have been vineyards on the outskirts of Stuttgart for hundreds of years, but over the years the city has expanded. The Schwarz family's old farm, which once stood alone without neighbors, is today located on a narrow street surrounded by apartment buildings. The only detail that tells that this is not a residential building like the other houses, is the 100-year-old vine outside the gate.
When the family started viticulture here almost 300 years ago, production was solely for self-sufficiency. Grandpa Schwarz expanded the vineyards and today the second and third generation of winemakers continue to run the family vineyard through Markus Schwarz with his daughter Stefanie and son Ludwig. The vineyards themselves on nine hectares are just outside Stuttgart, but here on the street in town is the actual wine production and the wine cellar.
Stefanie Schwarz takes us on a guided tour down the tunnels of the wine cellar. Each year, around 70.000 bottles of wine are produced and bottled here in the underground, almost all of which goes to local consumption and regular customers in the area. Part of the production also goes to the family's small wine bar with food service - a so-called besenwirtschaft.
Trollinger and Riesling
70% of the grapes grown here in the Württemberg wine region produce red wines and historically they have mainly grown trollinger, a very local blue grape that produces a bright red wine with a fruity and light taste. Other popular blue grapes are lembergerand different types ofPinot. But there are trends in wine and 2022 Riesling took over first place as the area's most cultivated grape and its popularity is only increasing. Generally speaking, Trollinger is losing its popularity and the desire for Pinot/Riesling is only increasing.
We go further and further into the Schwarz wine cellar, among large oak barrels and steel barrels. This is a family farm where most of the work is done by the family themselves, apart from the harvest where friends and family also help out. The grapes grow along steep slopes, which for many years had the wine to be harvested completely by hand. Nowadays, however, there are machines that can handle the slopes, which has made it possible to harvest faster and with less manpower.
Organic farming or not?
The summer of 2023 was a tough summer for winemakers across Europe. In Württemberg, the summer started dry and hot and ended in a very rainy August. Molds and fruit flies thrived in the vineyards and the wine had to be sprayed to prevent it from going to waste.
For small wineries, it can be difficult to run a certified organic vineyard according to the rule book and be completely in the hands of weather and pests. A sudden downpour or an invasion of pests can turn a promising harvest into a disaster in just a few days.
- Organic farming or not is not always neither better nor worse - but we need to talk about it! says Stefanie when the question of organic farming comes up.
Stefanie exemplifies the complexity of an organic viticulturist being allowed to spray his crops with natural copper, but too much copper kills all life in the soil under the vine. Everything is not black or white about organic farming and Stefanie believes that we need to talk more about what needs to be done in general to promote biodiversity and sustainability in the wine industry.
It's early morning and a little too early to try some of Schwarz's wines and since I'm traveling with carry-on luggage, I can't bring any liquid with me either. I simply have to plan a return visit to get to know the winery and the Württemberg wine region more. For Schwarz winery is a reminder that the soul of a wine is not only found in its flavors and aromas, but also in the people and generations of knowledge that created the wine.
How do I get to the Schwarz winery?
The Schwarz winery is located in a residential area on the outskirts of Stuttgart, approximately 7 kilometers from the center of Stuttgart.
Have you been here? What did you think of the destination?
Travel blogger, gastronaut, photographer and family adventurer with over 55 countries in his luggage. Eva loves trips that include beautiful nature, hiking boots and well-cooked food. On the travel blog Rucksack she takes you to all corners of the world with the help of her inspiring pictures and texts.