A tour of Germany's smallest wine-producing region on the Saxon Wine Route offers a wonderful blend of picturesque vineyards and local architecture.
This part of Saxony enjoys a particularly favourable climate. Grapes have been grown here for over 850 years, and the local porcelain manufacturing tradition dates back almost 300 years. It was wine and porcelain, together with rich silver deposits, that brought fame and fortune to Saxony. As you follow the Saxon Wine Route, you see vines for the first time near Pirna, then in Pillnitz, close to the stately home there, and then beneath the palaces that line the river Elbe in Dresden. Just outside Dresden, going towards Meissen, you will see the next vines growing on terraces on the Radebeul and Coswig slopes, which end at the romantic Elbe wine villages near Diesbar-Seusslitz.
The mediterranean feel, lovely scenery and cheery innkeepers create a carefree atmosphere, which works its magic as your paddle steamer cruises down the river and your gaze wanders over the vine-clad terraces and vineyards along the Elbe's riverbanks. Some of the charms of this delightful countryside dotted with towns and romantic villages are the countless reminders of its wine heritage: here and there a freshly whitewashed vintner's cottage, a soaring church steeple or a snug wine tavern.
Stop off at a vintner's tavern and let your host pour you one of his best vintages accompanied by some hearty fare or a sweet dish from the list of house specials, all served up with an amusing Saxon tale or two.