When it gets colder in the run-up to Christmas, it doesn't make hiking any less enjoyable. Quite the opposite, as you can now enjoy cozy stopovers with homemade bratwurst and mulled wine. In order to experience this, we have Rhine Terrace Path between Alsheim and Oppenheim.
Exceptional: The Alsheim hollow ways
Wrapped up in a warm winter jacket and with a woolly hat on my head, it doesn't seem so cold anymore. Although it is still mild in Rheinhessen, as is typical for a wine-growing region. We set off at 4° C to hike the Rheinterrassenweg between Alsheim and Oppenheim. We leave the car in Alsheim because, thanks to the train connections, we will be taking the regional train back from Oppenheim tomorrow.
After leaving the small town of Alsheim behind us, we immerse ourselves in the wintry nature of the vineyards. At this point, however, it is not the vines that impress us. We take a detour into the sunken paths. To do this, we have to leave the Rheinterrassenweg trail briefly and follow the signs to Hohlwegeparadies.
It doesn't take long for the high walls to rise up to our right and left. These earth walls, some of which are still covered in green even now in December, are quite impressive. A sign tells us that every hole in the walls is home to a bee. This makes nature even more impressive.
We return to Guntersblum on the paths of the Rheinterrassenweg. We enjoy the views along the way. About halfway along the trail, we pass the Church ruins of St. Mary Magdalene. In winter, everything seems even quieter and more reverent here. The bare trees and the colorful leaves on the ground make the ruins of the old church seem less alien.
Warming up at the Winzerhof
Admittedly, despite our winter jackets and hats, we are a little cold and looking forward to our first stop. The winery Oswald castle yard is organizing the "Advent bouquet" this weekend (09. and 10.12.2023). Mulled wine and punch are served in the winery's festively decorated courtyard and we enjoy a freshly grilled homemade sausage. The wine tavern is also open and you can enjoy a roast venison with dumplings and red cabbage in the warmth. Not only does it sound good, it also smells tempting. But we decide to go for the bratwurst and mulled wine anyway, because we want to move on quickly. We still have a long way to go before we reach Oppenheim.
Before we dive back into nature, we marvel at the impressive Heidenturm church in Guntersblum. The large church in the rather small town attracts everyone's attention. It almost seems a little oversized.
After Guntersblum and back in the countryside, we enjoy the cool air and the scent of winter. The path climbs slightly as we continue our leisurely hike. We let our gaze wander over the vineyards, where a few leaves and grapes still hang on the vines.
Small but nice: Christmas market at the winery
For our next stop, we take another short detour. The small village of Ludwigshöhe is not directly on the Rheinterrassenweg. The Winery on the Honigberg organizes the event "Christmas at the winery" in the new vinotheque on two weekends in Advent (02. and 09.12.2023). Here we also warm up briefly with a cup of mulled wine and in the warm wine bar.
However, we are quickly drawn back outside behind the vinotheque. The winegrowing family has set up a small Christmas market. In addition to wines from the winery and beautifully wrapped gifts, we can also buy a knitted hat or Christmas decorations. But we have another goal out here. Directly behind the wine shop are a few of the estate's vines. We enjoy our warm mulled wine surrounded by vines. I wonder if the grapes for the mulled wine grow here in summer?
Back on the hiking trail, a bit of fog rolls in and covers the landscape in a blanket of white. This creates a completely different atmosphere over the last few kilometers. Nature has many faces, even in winter.
Winter diversity at the Oppenheim stage destination
We can already see the large St. Catherine's Church in Oppenheim in the distance and have our destination clearly in sight. But before that, the Rheinterrassenweg leads us past the toad fountain in the middle of the vineyard. With the light mist in the air, the fountain now looks more enchanted and fairytale-like than we remember it from the summer.
The damp and cold slowly seep under the thick clothing. So we set off on our way to Oppenheim and the "German Wine Museum". Christmas in the Museum" takes place here tonight (02.12.2023) and a small festival of lights in the courtyard. Admission to the museum is free during the event. The exhibition rooms and the courtyard are bathed in atmospheric light. We warm up again with a cup of mulled wine before following the excited children back inside to watch Santa's visit.
This is not just a highlight for the children. We sing Christmas carols together and greet the man in the bishop's mitre. The shining eyes of the children are the icing on the cake.
Our stomachs are slowly getting hungry. No wonder after a long hike. In the Wine tavern not far from St. Catherine's Church, we eat a delicious leg of goose with crispy skin, dumplings and red cabbage with apples. We enjoy a Rhine-Hessian red wine with it.
A beautiful winter's day comes to an end and we return to the Hotel "Altes Amtsgericht Oppenheim". Located right next to the vineyard, the rooms in the historic building have been lovingly renovated and we sleep wonderfully and quietly.
For the start of the next day, we booked a table in the small Café "Genussheldin" reserved. Here we choose something from the individual breakfast menu. The sausages and eggs are from regional producers. At lunchtime, freshly filled bagels and homemade cakes are also on offer. The café is located right next to the train station, which is very convenient for us. After breakfast, we take the train back to Alsheim.
The train connection is a special feature of the Rheinterrassenweg. This means that you can reach many of the places along the trail by train and travel back the way you came.
Before we set off on our journey home, we want to take a piece of winter in Rheinhessen and a small souvenir of the winter day with us. That's why we make a detour to the Weber Winery Hof-Bärenstein. We can buy a bottle of white or red mulled wine in the Vinomat in the courtyard of the winery, regardless of opening hours. In addition to mulled wine, the wine vending machine also sells other wines from the Rheinhessen winery.
Another food and event tip in Oppenheim is the Restaurant Völker. Events with course menus are held here at Christmas time. However, you need to book in advance. You can find all the information you need on the website of the Restaurant Völker.
There is a lot to experience along the Rheinterrassenweg during the winter and Advent weekends. Take a look in advance in the Calendar of events of Rheinhessen Touristik and to the Website of the municipality of Rhein Selzso that you don't miss any events or Christmas markets nearby.