I'm posting this as an adjunct question to a previous one hoping to get a little additional feedback. Some folks have said the wine festivals in Sept are like Oktoberfest (lots of crazy drunks and tons of people) and others have said they were a wonderful experience - but take public transportation. We're hoping to enjoy the entire ambiance of the area including the natural beauty and quaint architecture - along with the festivals. What is your experience?
Well, I have been to both Octoberfest (albeit on a Monday and mid day) and the Bernkastel-Kues winefest. The two do not compare. Even an off day of Octoberfest is much more crowded, many more partiers (we boarded a train at 7:00 in the morning with a group of guys in Kaiserslautern,some 3 hrs from Munich, who were already well lit and more so by the time we arrived) and much more expensive. Once there, the crowds oppressive, spots in the tents possible but difficult to find, and expensive (we dropped 40 euro on a couple beers, a pretzel, and something to eat) I can't imagine it on a saturday night.
The winefest is crowded for the small venue, parking can be limited, best to have someone who will be designated driver or at least only casually taste. The drill is you wander in, each winery or group has a booth/tent, your first stop you pay for a small glass full of wine, keep the glass, then pay for refills (euro or two) everywhere else. Food is cheap as well, brats, currywurst, schenk, other snacks. They have a parade somewhere in there, music around in places, I recall a Craft Fair and other vendors, maybe some things for the kids. I suppose there will be adults behaving badly, but my experience was more jovial comaraderie than Baccanalian orgy. Maybe popular street fair scene in a city would be the comparision.
Bernkastel-Kues seemed to be more a regional winefest as opposed to just the town, and the Mosel probably much better than the Rhine. I would definitely urge you to go if you like a glass or two of wine, or just festivals.
I've only been to the Bad Dürkheim Würstmarkt (really a wine festival, despite the name). Although it was crowded, it was nothing like the fratboy invasion that Oktoberfest can sometimes resemble.
Wine festivals are nothing like the Oktoberfest. I wouldn't put them in the category of refined, but they aren't "let's see how drunk we can get and then act like fools" festivals.
I also think each town has their own flavor and atmosphere. If you go to Youtube, there are a lot of videos of these festivals. Have a look at just a few.
Paul, your description is like a youtube video in words: "more jovial comaraderie than Baccanalian orgy"! And Jo, I rather used an off-base descriptor with "semi-refined," because, of course, here in the states one wouldn't use those words in describing a wine fest. I'll check out your youtube suggestions. I didn't think of that. Most of the wine fests are Fri-Sun, and we might be in other areas on the weekends. Could be a mute point. Thank you, all!
I guess I can add that I found wine festivals, especially along the Mosel, to be as much for the locals as the tourists. The wineries bring their wine, there seem to be a slew of wine princesses or maidens, or what ever they call them (we have Pork Princesses here in Iowa, so I am not being glib) There were what I would call Oompa bands all over, people really of all ages. It was the type of atmosphere similar to, as I said, a big community street fair or county fair, and while yes there is drinking, it seemed to lead to complete strangers singing and wandering arm in arm as opposed to fighting. Maybe what Octoberfest used to be. We also hit the Cochem wine fest, and my brother was stationed in the area on small Air Force bases over 6 years and 4 tours and hit many, all with the same basic atmosphere, but each with it's own character. If you can adjust your itinerary, it would be well worth a weekend along the Mosel.
Thank you for asking this question. I read your other question about this, too, and this was good follow-up. Now after reading these responses, I really want to go to some of these wine festivals and might have to work it in to a future trip. I really like the Rhine/Mosel area anyway, especially the Mosel.
Paul, you painted another perfect picture and I am much encouraged. In any case, the Mosel wine fests sound delightful! (Leigh, you're welcome!) (Pork Princesses in Iowa, Paul? My oh my. The gals that carry that title must have exceptional self confidence! But then, I went to school where the mascot is a geoduck [gooeyduck], which is a long-necked clam.)
The only place I've visited that I'd describe as crazed is Oktoberfest - but I've heard Fasching can be crazy.