German Wine Harvest Fest starts today
Neustadt hosts premier event of wine fest season

Petra Lessoing
Kaiserslautern American

Harvest time in Germany is also wine fest time. And the highlight of the wine fest season is the annual German Wine Harvest Fest being celebrated in Neustadt along the German Wine Street today through Oct. 9.

The German Wine Harvest Fest is considered as the vintners’ Thanksgiving. For more than 50 years, regional vintners celebrate the event after they finished their work in the vineyards and wine cellars for the old season, and the new season with new wines will start.

The fest is well-known for the little reconstructed wine village set up across from the Neustadt train station, the election of the Palatinate and German wine queens, the carnival and the biggest vintners’ parade in Germany.
The wine village is made of little framework houses called “Haiselscher,” (Palatinate dialect meaning little houses) and booths, where local wines and food specialties are sold.

***image2***A typical season specialty offered is “Zwiebelkuchen,” or onion cake. It is similar to Quiche Lorraine and customarily it is served with “Federweisser,” the first new wine for that year. “Federweisser” has a cloudy color and tastes more like grape juice than wine, containing less alcohol. It is still fermenting and after a few weeks loses its sweetness.

Live party music starts at 7:30 p.m. today on a stage set up next to the Haiselscher. Each day, different bands and singers will present different music styles.

A carnival with rides and a fest tent is near the wine village. Family Day, with reduced prices, is scheduled for Wednesday.
Neustadt’s Hetzelplatz will turn into a giant wine probe location at 7 p.m. Thursday. The “German Wine and Champagne Meeting Point,” made of little pavilions, will lure visitors who want to sample wines from the nine wine villages belonging to Neustadt and from the other 13 wine-growing regions in Germany.

Highlight of the wine harvest fest is the vintners’ parade with floats, bands, walking groups, costume groups and the Palatinate and German wine queens at 2 p.m. Oct. 8.

The fest will close with a fireworks display at 9:30 p.m. Oct. 9.
The German railroad company, Deutsche Bahn, offers trains going from Kaiserslautern to Neustadt every half hour, at minute :28 and :58. Trains taking visitors back from Neustadt to Kaiserslautern leave at minute :32 and :02. Tickets for groups of one to five persons are available for €12.50 at the travel center in the Kaiserslautern Main Train Station or from the ticket machines. If boarding in Landstuhl, the group ticket costs €17.50.
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