One of the things that surprised me the most when I moved to Stuttgart...other than things like the fact that Germans have a plan for everything including going to the bathroom...is that there's fairly big wine industry "in the neighborhood". There's even some grapes growing on a hillside just a few hundred feet from the main train station in the center of the city. Since I'm not much of a beer drinker, it's been a treat to be able to order a local wine when going out and not having to feel bad about not ordering a beer ("no thanks, I just want to try the local wine" works every time). Note to self: I need to write a separate post about the local wine...
Anyway, just after our arrival at Stuttgart's airport on the first day, we visited the tourist-information desk to get some information about our new home. One of the things in the massive pile of papers that we took home that day was something about a wine festival held right around the last week of August or first week of September each year. The event, called the Stuttgarter Weindorf (Stuttgart wine village), is a chance for the local wine industry to strut its stuff for the locals. Because our original plans only had us here for six months, I figured that we wouldn't get to go but I kept the paper as a reminder...just in case... Well, as with all good plans, ours changed and we found ourselves (still) in Stuttgart as the calendar page turned to September...
The Weindorf is set up in two downtown plazas and the surrounding streets. This photo was taken in the Schillerplatz between the Alte Kanzlei (white building) and the Altes Schloss (out of the photo to the right):
Each winery and business has its own stand and many of the stands are actually mini restaurants where local food specialties are served up. My guess is that there are more than 100 different places operating during the almost two-week-long festival.
It must be time for the early-bird specials or something with the makeup of this crowd:
It's a great opportunity to not only buy "half glasses" of wine so that you can try lots of different ones, but also get appetizer-sized plates as well to do the same with the food. Can you say yummy Maultaschen (a local ravioli-style item) and Spätburgunder (a local Pinot Noir variety)?
Some of the action in the Rathaus (city hall) plaza:
My German school is about two blocks from the Weindorf so I made sure to visit early and often! I even "convinced" my German-English language partner (my roommate's mom - is she too young or what?!?!?) to meet up one afternoon for a couple of glasses of Weißburgunder (a local Pinot Blanc):
...and back at the Schillerplatz a bit later:
During one of the last nights of the event, we met up with some friends for an evening out. I was super happy hanging outside drinking and talking. The international crew: Alex from South Africa, Katharina from Cologne, Fuka from Japan, Diana from Colombia, and me from the United States (missing from the photo due to poor timing was our roommate Berat - sorry!):
All in all, a great event especially when you consider that southern Germany is often only thought of in terms of beer consumption. As the Stuttgart locals are sometimes heard saying, "we're not Munich" and they've got the festival to prove it. Now to go and buy some of the wines that I sampled...