Sure, Germany is famous for its its cars and its Riesling wines...but those who want to combine all three should head to Stuttgart, the capital of SouthWest Germany in the state of Baden-Wuerttemberg. The state has several notable automobile museums, including Mercedes-Benz, Porsche and the workshop of Daimler and Maybach and the Benz House. At the same time, the wine festivals in late summer and early fall are a great way to enjoy and be a part of the local culture.
|The Stuttgart Wine Village|
Stuttgart is at the center of Wuerttemberg, one of Germany's 13 wine-growing regions, and is also close to another: Baden. The city is surrounded by low-lying hills that are covered with vineyards and harvest time is especially active. Tip: We hear a popular aspect of SouthWest Germany's wine culture is the "broom tavern," or Besenwirtschaft, that lets locals open their homes and sell wine and food for 12 weeks of the year. Why the name? The owners hang a broom outside of their house, which signifies to visitors that they are open for business.
Starting August 27 and running through September 7, the Stuttgart Wine Village will have plenty of wine vendors open for business. More than 500 different types of wine will be available from the two regions in 120 wine arbors set up around the old palace. The local favorites are the red Trollinger and the white Riesling. People stroll from one to another with their glass of wine in hand or stop for onion pie or other local favorites, including Maultaschen (stuffed pasta squares) and Spaetzle (local noodles).
The Fellbach Autumn Festival from October 10 to 13 and other festivals and wine tastings follow, including the Night of the Cellars in nearby Weindorf or Degustation - Stuttgart's Best Wines on November 22. The Stuttgart Museum of Viniculture also offers regular wine tastings and tours.
Can't make it for the festival? The Stuttgart Wine Trail is a good way to explore the region for a few hours any time of the year. Guides are available from September to October.
Those who prefer driving over drinking will want to check out Stuttgart's car museums. Built in 2006, the Mercedes Benz museum has a collection of luxury cars that belonged to famous people, including Princess Diana, the Pope and Emperor Hirohito. Record-winning cars, such as the Blitzen-Benz and Formula One winners, are on display. In summer, be sure to check out "Starry Night," when the top floor of the museum is transformed into a restaurant and diners can look out over the countryside.
|The Mercedes Benz Museum|
The Porsche Museum has an exhibit of cars that includes 80 unique vehicles, such as the Type 64, the very first Porsche. Good to know: The historical racing and sports cars on display are actually kept in perfect running condition and are used at exhibitions and old-timer races. Visitors can watch the mechanics at work on the cars in the museum's own workshop. The museum's workshop and historical has a comprehensive image library with over 3,000 photos and 1,700 hours of film material.
Beyond the museums, car aficionados can visit Gottlieb Daimler's home or his villa and workshop in Taubenheimstrasse, where he, with Wilhelm Maybach, invented the engine. Close by is the Meilenwerk, an extensive trading and viewing center for vintage and classic cars. (We hear visitors can stay in the V8 hotel for a complete experience.) Those interested in a day trip from Stuttgart can take in the views along the Bertha Benz Route, Formula One racing at the Hockenheimring, car collections in Sinsheim, the Langendorf Castle and the Boxenstop in Tuebingen.
Bonus: Every year in March and June there is the Retro Classic trade fair and the Retro Classic Meets Baroque in Stuttgart where vintage and modern classic car enthusiasts gather to enjoy their vehicles.