"I'm not a fan of hotel hopping so sounds like staying in Bacharach all nights might work best. We will be there last week of September... We like all wines! Other than the river cruise, we thought we would drive around, to explore.....unless the advise is to take the train from town to town? Thank you!"
Exploring near Bacharach:
1) Last week of September: The annual Boppard Wine festival is your passport to wine fun. From Sept. 23-26 this Rhine town, roughly 20 train minutes north of Bacharach, will be set up with wine and food stands from multiple local wineries. Visitors stream in from all over for this event, which actually takes place over two weekends (the 1st October weekend as well.) The busiest day is Saturday, when the fireworks and the evening party cruises happen. There's live music in town in the evenings as well. The guide to Boppard below will inform you on things to see/do.
Boppard's Weinfest on market square
Guide to Boppard
Getting to Boppard: direct trains from Bacharach run hourly or better all day long. Only a naive international tourist would think it's wise to take a car into a small town like Boppard during a Weinfest. This group from Duisburg-Huckingen got to the Boppard Weinfest by train, and you should probably do the same:
2) Oberwesel: Another handsome old town with in-town wineries, this one only 5 minutes by train north of Bacharach. Walk the old town wall for sure.
3) Rheinfels Castle in St. Goar: 10 min. by train from Bacharach. Shuttle available from in town to the cliffside castle, or walk up.
4) Rhine Cruise: Don't board in Bacharach unless you wish to miss out on half the scenery. The best strategy is to take the train 20 minutes south to Bingen (Rhein Stadt station) and board there for a cruise to St. Goar or Boppard - then return by train. This cruise covers the most scenic segment of river.