With its old courtyards and winding alleyways lined with half-timbered houses, Rüdesheim is the epitome of a Rhine wine town. The vineyards around the village date back to the Roman emperor Probus. The full-bodied Riesling is produced here, as well as brandy and Sekt (sparkling wine). Rüdesheim is also the scene of the annual August wine festival, when the old taverns on the narrow and very touristy Drosselgasse (Thrush Lane) are crowded with visitors from all over the world. Drosselgasse has been called "the smallest but the happiest street in the world." From April to November, you can listen to music and dance in these taverns daily noon to 1am.

To prove how seriously Rüdesheimers take their wine, they have opened a wine museum in Bromserburg Castle. The Rheingau- und Weinmuseum, Rheinstrasse 2 (tel. 06722/2348; www.rheingauer-weinmuseum.de), charges 5€ for adults, and 3€ for children 11 and under; it's open mid-March to October daily 10am to 6pm (last admission 5:15pm). It traces the history of the grape and has an exhibition of wine presses, glasses, goblets, and drinking utensils from Roman times to the present. Wine tastings are 7.50€ to 16€ extra, depending on how many samples you drink.


This old village at the northern edge of the Rheingau is built on the slopes of the east bank of the Rhine. Its half-timbered houses and vineyards seem precariously perched on the steep hillsides, and the view of the Rhine Valley from here is awe-inspiring. Assmannshausen is known for its fine burgundy-style wine. It lies 5km (3 miles) northwest of Rüdesheim and 60km (37 miles) west of Frankfurt.

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