The Great German Grape

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Wine Connoisseurs and inquisitive travelers will find the medieval village of Bacharach ideal for white wine immersion and castle exploration. Situated on the Rhine River, this dreamy little German getaway is home to the renowned Riesling grape.

Since the Middle Ages, Bacharach, named for Bacchus, the ancient Roman God of wine, has been the most important wine village in the Middle Rhine Valley. At one time, when the riverbank was higher, the medieval defense tower in the center of town was on the waters' edge and loaded wine barrels from a crane onto ships. The must-see crane still exists.

Take a Self-guided Walking Tour
It is easy to explore Bacharach on foot. Walk along cobblestone lanes flanked with half-timbered houses; some dating back to the 14th century. With a population of 1,000 residents, Bacharach is small and best seen on foot. Stroll past homes with cottage-size gardens and vineyards growing renowned Riesling grapes. It's quiet, peaceful, and laid back. To explore the valley, rent a bike; it's six miles to St.Goar, which is the next village north of Bacharach on the Rhine. Hotels provide bikes for free or rent one at Hotel Hillen.

Where to Sample Riesling Wine
Sampling Riesling wine is a must-do while visiting Bacharach. It is one of the greatest white wine grapes and also one of the best sweet wines in the world. For a casual wine tasting, choose between family-owned Weingut Karl Heidrich located in the town center or Bastian's Weingut zum Gruner Baum. It is not a sophisticated wine tasting, but it will be undoubtedly memorable.

Take a Rhine River Boat Tour
A boat tour on the Rhine should at the top of the to do list. Simply walk across the street to the KD landing stage and ticket booth located on the Rhine. Purchase one-way (take a return train) or roundtrip tickets on the river boat, which departs twice daily, and travels north to the village of St. Goar. Soak in views of hilltop castles and listen to amusing tales about barons from centuries past. In the summer the hills are lush, deep green, and the river is busy with barge traffic. (In June 2002, the romantic Middle Rhine between Koblenz and Bingen was added to the UNESCO World Heritage Sites.) KD is the only shipping company with several daily services along this stretch of the river and provides over 160 departures at 16 KD landing stages every day.

Length of Stay in Bacharach
Spending one or two nights in Bacharach is a sufficient amount of time to explore the quiet village and tour the Rhine before moving onto your next destination. On departure, walk to the village train station, and purchase a ticket for Marksburg Village, home to Marksburg Castle, a black and white castle, which is not only striking, but the only surviving medieval castle on the Rhine. It is now a museum.

Getting to Bacharach
Fly into Frankfurt International Airport. Walk from the airport terminal via the sky bridge to the train station. Take the escalator down to the main office and purchase a one-way or round trip ticket to Bacharach. The train journey is less than 2 hours and makes a change in Mainz or Bingen. Arrive at Bacharach's small train station and walk into the village.

Where to Stay
The cozy and comfortable 3-star 14-room Rhein Hotel will make you feel right at home. Overlooking the river, it has been in the same family for six generations. The hotel's restaurant offers the best dining in Bacharach with outdoor seating and river views.

For college backpackers on a budget, stay at Jugendherberge Stahleck, a 12th century hilltop castle reached by climbing 500 steps above Bacharach. The castle-turned-hostel offers eye candy views of the Rhine.

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