As the days slowly get shorter, many look forward to the cosiest time of the year - with Christmas markets, mulled wine, winter hikes and the smell of open fires and pine branches. The Southern Wine Route also celebrates winter and the pre-Christmas season and offers numerous opportunities for a relaxing, enjoyable short holiday or day trip with delicious wines, varied cuisine, lots of culture and even more nature. Because even in winter, the region in the south of the Palatinate can be explored, equipped with sturdy shoes and warm clothing, on hikes and tours through the Palatinate Forest, the surrounding vineyards and during culinary breaks at the most beautiful places. Especially when the grape harvest is long over and the leaves have fallen from the trees, the wide view over the landscape and the winter countryside is impressive...
White powdered mountains, snow-covered castles, sugared vines, cosy huts - all this is best enjoyed on a winter hike through the Palatinate Forest. When winter arrives and the cool wind blows the last leaves off the vines, the Southern Wine Route is far from putting its feet up.
Numerous hiking trails entice connoisseurs and active people with different routes and levels of difficulty in the winter countryside, including the Richard Löwenherz Trail near Annweiler am Trifels. Along the 12-kilometre-long circular trail, hikers can look forward to imposing red sandstone rocks, a varied natural landscape and beautiful views of the Wasgau region.
For gourmets and foodies, there are many delicious dishes on the menu in the Southern Palatinate all year round. The region's extensive woodlands provide a great habitat for wildlife and usher in the "Wild Weeks" during the winter months. Participating restaurants offer a piece of nature during this time and source the game meat exclusively from the local areas. Saddle of venison, spare ribs of wild boar or fillet of venison calf - depending on availability, the various establishments offer a selection of game dishes that are based on the wild animal populations in the forests of the Southern Palatinate. The sensitive balance should not be disturbed, which is why there are closed seasons during which hunting is not allowed.
As the year draws to a close, the special and atmospheric atmosphere never fails to delight visitors to the Christmas markets on the Southern Wine Route. Landau is the home of the creator of "Santa Claus", for it was here that Thomas Nast, the cartoonist who became famous in America, was born in 1840. Handicrafts and Christmas are closely linked here and it is impossible to imagine the festive calendar without the St. Nicholas market. From potters and goldsmiths to painters and wood turners to basket weavers, bookbinders and many more, unusual crafts can be admired here, all of which also provide inspiration for possible Christmas gifts. The "Himmelsbackstube" and the "Schreibstube Himmelspforte" also offer an exciting range of activities for children. The Christmas letters written in the writing room are guaranteed to receive an answer before Christmas Eve and the baked treats can be snacked on directly on site. Another highlight is the nativity scene house under the big fir tree. There, beautiful hand-carved wooden figures from Val Gardena depict the Christmas story. Those who prefer a motorised ride can take a ride on the Father Christmas Express or sit on the double-storey nostalgia carousel.
The other Christmas markets on the Southern Wine Route also enchant visitors year after year with their special romance and cosy atmosphere. From Christmas-decorated wine press houses to medieval market hustle and bustle with Swedish fires and mulled wine, numerous Christmas and Advent markets here light up the eyes of connoisseurs and active people alike in this winter wonderland.
Those who long for a little warmth after the fresh and cool air of hiking will find just the right offers on the Southern Wine Route. The region's accommodation establishments offer feel-good oases to recharge your batteries and relax tired legs. The PfalzCard allows free admission to numerous leisure facilities, including the Südpfalz Therme. After a walk through the snow-covered landscape, relaxing hours in the Therme are especially recommended. Soothing water between 30°C and 32°C from a depth of 450 metres pampers the whole body. Counter-current systems, water fountains and bubble loungers ensure a very special bathing experience here. The whole thing is complemented by a visit to the sauna with a view of the white landscapes or massages with grape seed oil.
The Palatinate sausage culture stands for long tradition and first-class craftsmanship. The knowledge of the special taste is a family matter here - in some places even in the 10th generation. The products of the Palatinate country butchers, who in many places attach great importance to regional produce, are made with a sure instinct and genuine craftsmanship: Starting with the pigs and cattle, through the ingredients such as bread for the meat dumplings, to the feed for their own animals in the barn.
Winter is a special time for the butchers along the Southern Wine Route - the time of the slaughter festivals. Because after the work is done comes the cosy get-together with a glass of wine and regional specialities.