Franconian Wine Country: Dream Tour Iphofen – Wine and Hiking in the Steigerwald Forest

The cyclist stands just behind the Rodelsee Gate and offers a friendly toast to passers-by. His wine sloshes precariously in the glass, but never even a drop is lost. Most people know him, for more than 20 years, an Iphofen original. And the best advertisement for the Ninety-Nine Kulinarium, where Lukas Ronninger now creatively brings Franconian cuisine to the table in his mother's former cafe.

99er Culinarium Iphofen

I would like to sit down for a glass of wine, but that will have to wait a little longer. Finally, I came to the Franconian wine country to hike.

With about 150 kilometers of well-marked hiking trails through forests and vineyards, Iphofen alone is a tempting destination. For those who prefer to cycle, the Franconian wine country has a well-developed network of cycle paths.

Hiking Steigerwald: On the dream circuit Iphofen to the Iphofer calf

I decide to do the Iphofen dream circuit and start just outside the old town, at the Ringsbuhl forest lake parking lot. After a short ascent through the forest, the Iphofer calf lies at my feet. This is next to the Julius-Echter-Berg one of the more famous vineyards of Iphofen. From the steep slopes (sometimes up to 60% gradient) come elegant wines rich in finesse.

Always beautiful, the view over the vineyards – especially shortly before the harvest, when the ripe grapes hang like pearls on the vine. Some shine golden in the sun, others are colored in different shades of red and purple.

Iphofen Calf

Unfortunately, the marked hiking trail soon turns off into the forest again. If you want to enjoy the view of the vines for a while longer, you can walk along the farm roads to the Speckstein ruins. I follow the official Traumrunde route and soon come to the Mittelwald pavilion near the imposing Bildeiche oak tree. The natural monument, which is between 300 and 450 years old, was once an important pilgrimage station.


One could almost overlook the pretty little chapel near the clearing, which is worth a mini-detour.

A middle forest is a historical form of forest, where dense undergrowth is mixed with higher trunks. An exhibition in the pavilion provides interesting information about forestry in the past and today and its interaction with nature conservation.

On natural paths of the Steigerwald, the dream tour now leads in a wide curve back to Iphofen. It is really idyllic at the Wertholzplatz, where flowering thistles and herbs attract numerous bees, bumblebees and butterflies. Wonderful, this buzzing and humming around me – otherwise nothing but silence.

Even in the vineyards around Iphofen there is little activity at the end of August. This will change in two or three weeks, when the harvest of early varieties such as Muller-Thurgau begins. The grapes have developed well. Warm, sunny late summer weather alternating with cool nights enhances the aroma in the wine. For the winegrowers, it is a matter of waiting until the berries have reached the desired ripeness and the optimum harvest time has been reached.

Good wine quality begins in the vineyard. Climate, soil, location, but also weather caprices determine what ends up in the glass. The cultivation methods have of course changed enormously over the centuries.

Bocksbeutel meadow at the town lake Iphofen

Historic vineyard Iphofen: Experience epochs of Franconian wine live

How wine was grown in former times, I learn in the historical vineyard Iphofen. On three terraces, the "Bergwinzer" have been cultivating a quarter of an acre since 2015 in the historical way: from stake vines as in the Middle Ages to wire frames in the 1960s. The most important epochs of Franconian viticulture can be experienced live in this way.

In the past, mixed grape varieties were common, i.e. different types of grapes were planted together. This has the advantage that frost or hail prevent a total loss, as the varieties sprout and ripen at different early ages.

A nice side effect: numerous rare animals and plant species have made their home around the historic vineyard house.

Every year, a different Iphofen vintner takes care of the vines in the historic vineyard – and presses this special wine in the fall. You can taste the rare drop (only approx. 300 liters are harvested per year) in the Vinothek in Iphofen or during a guided tour through the historical vineyard.

Historical vineyard Iphofen

Terroir f Iphofen: Wine& World

Just a few hundred meters further, I come to another very special place. One of the magical places of Franconian wine: Terroir f. Iphofen was the first of these landmarks of now over 20.

The view from Julius-Echter-Berg stretches far over the wine countryside and winegrowing villages – as with all terroir-f points. Each one is dedicated to a different theme, in Iphofen everything revolves around wine and the world: "The distance so far, the wine so close. Wine connects."

At the observation deck the distances to famous wine regions of other countries are marked and steles illustrate where in the world how much wine is produced. Where elephants work in the vineyard and that there are vineyards in Denmark, shows a presentation at the foot of the tower. But I find the view over the Franconian wine country even more interesting. It was even named the most beautiful wine view in Germany by the German Wine Institute in 2016.

Terroir f Iphofen Terroir f Iphofen View Terroir f Iphofen

Iphofen has got competition in the neighboring Rodelsee, where the terroir f protrudes from the vineyard like an oversized telescope. Another Terroir f is located in Einersheim. All three can also be discovered on a bike tour through the vineyards. More tips for pleasure biking in the Franconian Wine Country can be found below in the info section of this article.

Terroir f Rodelsee

I use the time until dinner at the 99er Kulinarium to explore the picturesque old town of Iphofen.

It's not big, but at almost every corner I discover details that make a nice photo motif. The whole town looks like a single postcard motif: the town hall, the fountain decorated with flowers, the half-timbered facades, walls, doors and towers – and of course the three still preserved town gates. Above all, the picture-perfect Rodelseer gate from the 15. Century.

Iphofen old town Iphofen Iphofen Einersheimer Gate Iphofen Vinothek Iphofen

Iphofen – Franconian wine country – everything you need to know at a glance

Getting there:

By car from Stuttgart on the A81 via Wurzburg, then A3 to exit Wiesentheid or Kitzingen/Biebelried and on the B8 to Iphofen. Alternatively A7 Kassel – Ulm, exit: Kitzingen and B8 to Iphofen.

Franconian wine country: stay overnight with a winegrower:

I spent the night in the guesthouse of the Weigand winery. From the room I had a wonderful view of the vineyards like Iphofer Kalb and the Geschichtsweinberg. Very tasty breakfast in nice weather also in the cozy courtyard of the winery, where you can also sit nicely and enjoy the wines.

Weigand Guest House, Lange Gasse 29, Iphofen, Tel. 09323-3805, www.winery-weigand.en

Einersheim Gate Iphofen

Food& Drinking – Iphofen Restaurant Tips:

  • Vinothek Iphofen: Kirchplatz 7, opening hours: Mon, Fri-Sun from 12 noon, www.vinothekiphofen.en
  • Bistro& Wine: Since May 2020 Antje and Thomas Mend from the Mend Winery offer Franconian tapas with wine during the day, in summer also outside on the terrace. I found the trout mousse with spice bread to the Riesling very tasty. The wine bistro is open daily from 12-20, except Mondays. Pfarrgasse 24, 97346 Iphofen, Tel. 09323-876 6419, www.winery-mend.en
  • 99er Kulinarium: opened in 1999 by his mother as a cafe, today Lukas Ronninger runs the 99er. The cuisine is Franconian, but interpreted in a modern way. Delicious: the trout in beer batter with potato salad, goes wonderfully with the Riesling from the Wirsching winery.


  • Traumrunde Iphofen: varied hike through vineyards and forest, 13 km, 310 meters altitude difference, moderately difficult, well marked; start/finish: parking lot Ringsbuhl
  • Monchsondheim Church Castle Museum, An der Kirchenburg 5, Iphofen-Monchsondheim, open from March to November,
  • Historic vineyard: accessible from Iphofen Rodelseer Tor via Schwanbergweg, nice walk ca. 1 hour
  • Iphofer Rebsortenpfad: directly on the Schwanbergweg (20-30 min walk from Rodelseer Tor) to the historical vineyard
  • Bike tours: leisurely from wine village to wine village or sporty uphill, downhill through the vines – you will find plenty of choices for cycling in the Franconian wine country. www.fraenkisches-weinland-en/radfahren; Suggestion for a church castle day tour (38 km): Iphofen-Monchsondheim-Huttenheim-Seinsheim (rest in the wine paradise barn)-Tiefenstockheim-Willanzheim-Mainbernheim-Rodelsee-Iphofen