We are planning a trip for this September thru the Mosel Valley via car,renting either out of Koblenz or Trier, 4-5 days ??? enough too much ??? where to stay along the way, am told smaller places like Cochem are best as 1/2 way and can do day trips...any recomendations for good winery tours,best sites to see.
Cochem is an ideal town in an ideal location, but you really can't lose in this region. Since wine is a focus, I'd suggest doing a "vacation-with-the-vintner" stay. Weingut Rademacher or Ferienweingut Elisabeth (Weingut Thiel) are in town. Weingut-Pension Gansen is outside a ways. There are dozens of other places in Cochem and around the area too but these give you an idea of what such a stay might be like.
This place is in Traben-Trarbach:
We stayed in Beilstein, at the Hotel Haus Lipmann. The town is just a little 'blip' on the road but SO charming. From there we drove to Cochem, Trier, etc.... Burg Eltz is a must-see and I think RS considers this his favorite castle.
I really like Cochem as a base and it is perfect for day trips, even without a car. The suggestion about staying at a winery is a great one. I stayed at Rademacher and really enjoyed it. It was great to end a day touring by sitting on the patio next to the vineyard every evening with a glass of wine. I think the Roman sites in Trier- Porta Nigra, the Constantine throne room and the Roman baths are really worth seeing. You can find plenty to do for 4-5 days in the Mosel valley. If you are looking for quiet smaller towns, beautiful scenery, wine and history, you will be fine with 4-5 days.
Many people like to stay in Bacharach, just south of Koblenz. It's a small city on a train line with a picturesque view of The Rhine. And they have great B&B's--and Hotel Kranenturm, a castle built in the late 1500's. I've stayed there a couple of trips when driving from Amsterdam to Munich.
See BavariaBen for info on the Mosel Valley: http://www.bensbauernhof.com
Cochem is a great place to stay and an excellent base for exploring the Mosel Valley. We always stay at (and I'd highly recommend)Hotel Lohspeicher in Cochem. The owners are a husband and wife and the husband is an accomplished professional chef. The hotel and restaurant are excellent. We first came across the hotel on our 2nd trip to Germany (my wife and I with our 2 small sons and my parents) after having a bad experience in the town of Zell and deciding (very last minute) to change our accomodations from Zell to Cochem (PS - stay away from the winery/hotel recommended in Zell by Rick Steves- it was the only bad recommendation I ever had from Rick's books). The hotel was closed for holiday, but the owners came back and opened it for us - even giving my children their own room at no extra charge. If you need more info on the hotel you can always private message me.
From Cochem, we took a day trip to the Burg Eltz castle. Leave time to explore Cochem though, it's a great little town that's worth the stop.
I second Alexandra's recommendation of Beilstein.
We too stayed there in Hotel Haus Lippman (highly recommended by RS and by us). Beilstein was a great jumping-off point for Trier, Cochem, Burg Eltz and more wineries than you can count (or ever sample).
When we rolled into Beilstein on a Sunday afternoon, we were overwhelmed by the tourist buses and people from the boats. But by late afternoon, the entire town was ours - quiet, peaceful, and totally wonderful. And every evening thereafter was the same way. So we spent most of the daytime hours traveling and came home to Beilstein for a quiet evening.
I'm sure there are other towns along the Mosel with the same character, but we'll return to Beilstein when we can.