A grape escape
Nestled amongst the vineyards and valleys of Germany’s third largest state, Baden-Württemberg, the region of Stuttgart offers visitors the chance to combine business and pleasure
In February 2020, over 1800 participants, from 67 nations, descended on the city of Stuttgart for the Internationale Kochkunst Ausstellung (IKA) or International Exhibition of Culinary Art. It was one of the last major international events before the Covid19 lockdown. Established in 1900, the competition sees teams of chefs from around the world conjure up spectacular edible creations in the name of national pride and bragging rights. Widely understood to be the oldest, largest and most diverse culinary arts competition in the world, this year’s edition of the event took place at Messe Stuttgart. With an area of 120,000m², the city’s modern trade fair centre was the perfect venue for the celebration of food, allowing Stuttgart to combine its credentials as a world-class location for events, with the region’s celebrated reputation for food and drink.
Situated in the south-west of Germany, the Stuttgart Region is comprised of the city of Stuttgart and its surrounding districts. A thriving hub of economic, scientific and political life, some of Europe’s biggest companies, including Porsche, Bosch, Mercedes-Benz and Daimler AG, are headquartered in the area. Stuttgart might commonly be associated with the automobile industry, but the city once known as ‘the chocolate capital of Germany’ has a lot more to offer than cars.
Food & wine
In the early 20th century, chocolate manufacturer Waldbaur was famous in Stuttgart for its chocolate ‘cat tongues’. Nowadays, Stuttgart’s chocolate tradition is continued by Ritter Sport, which still produces its famous square-shaped bars from a factory in the west of the region. The food scene isn’t just for those with a sweet tooth, though. Stuttgart boasts nine Michelin-starred restaurants, including the two-starred Restaurant Olivo and Restaurant Top Air, which can be visited without even leaving the airport. The wider Stuttgart Region, meanwhile, has a further 16 Michelin-starred establishments. For those less interested in fine dining, the region’s focus on locally sourced products and traditional recipes means that visitors are sure to find something they enjoy, whether it’s maultaschen (filled pasta), linsen mit Spätzle (lentils with noodles) or Gaisburger Marsch (a hearty Swabian hotpot).
In the past, one of Stuttgart’s best kept secrets was its wine industry, but after years of international acclaim, the area is now making a name for itself as one of Europe’s finest wine regions. At the end of 2019, a number of Stuttgart wineries received industry awards, including ‘Wine Grower of the Year’ and ‘Up-and-Coming Vinter of the Year’. The region also plays host to the annual Stuttgart Wine Festival, where visitors can sample over 500 different wines from local Baden and Württemberg vineyards.
Stuttgart has been producing wine since around 3 AD, when Roman emperors first started growing grapes in the region. The unusual topography of the area means the city of Stuttgart sits in a valley basin and vineyards can even be found in the city centre. The main wines grown in the region are the red varieties Lemberger, Spätburgunder and Trollinger. The latter is a fruity, light red wine, as inextricably linked with Stuttgart as Porsche or Mercedes. For a truly local experience, visitors can sample wine in a Besenwirtschaften, or Broom Tavern – temporary wine taverns, run by wine growers and open for no more than four months of the year. The name ‘Besenwirtschaften’ is derived from the broom that hangs outside these taverns to show they are open for business. Inside, visitors will only find the wine-growers wine, usually served in long-stemmed glasses with a handle that are typical of the region.
Open for business
There might be more than 16 hectares of municipal vineyards to explore, but wine isn’t the only drink expertly made in Stuttgart. Hochland has been making coffee for the people of the region since 1930, and Martina Hunzelmann now manages the company her grandfather founded in the city almost 100 years ago. Germany’s proud beer tradition is alive and well in Stuttgart too. The Dinkelacker family brewery was the first in the region to produce beer in the pilsner tradition and it remains a popular brewer of regional specialities today.
Of course, visitors don’t have to be at a vineyard or brewery to be able to sample the local beer and wine. The bar quarter surrounding Stuttgart’s Hans-im-Glück (Lucky Hans) fountain is busy with quaint old pubs and trendy bars such as Mata Hari and Deli. The city offers more novel places to spend an evening with a cocktail as well. In the Hospitalviertel, Jigger and Spoon is a bar located in the strongroom of a former bank. It was awarded ‘New Bar of the Year’ in 2019 by Mixology magazine. On warmer evenings, from spring to autumn, Sky Beach welcomes visitors to a beach on top of a multi-storey car park in the middle of the city. With over ten tonnes of sand and several bars, it is a laid-back, taste of the Caribbean in the Swabian city of Stuttgart.
With everything the region has to offer, it is unsurprising that it is an exciting venue for conferences and events. From September 1st congresses and trade shows with more than 500 delegates are allowed again following a strict safety protocol. Stuttgart international airport is open for safe travel and connects more than 100 destinations. The Stuttgart Region has 48 conference centres and 110 hotels in business and superior categories. For company’s considering hosting events in the region, the Stuttgart Convention Bureau offers comprehensive consulting especially according to the current situation, safety protocols of locations and hotels, information about valid regulations as well as hybrid event solutions. Further services are the online location database and free online hotel booking tool, administration of hotel room allotments, procurement of professional service partners, and even assistance with transport passes, city tours, guides and event tickets.