|Coords||Season||Major Soil Types||Total vineyard area||Total Riesling
|# Prod.||Average annual
|Ahr||Lat: 48.000; Long: 7.850||1200 hours of sun||Deep, rich loess in the lower Ahr Valley (eastern
slate, volcanic stone and rocky soils in the middle Ahr Valley (western
|557 ha / 1377 acres||Riesling (8%)||175||67 hl/ha||dry||mostly Germany, USA, Canada, Netherlands, Belgium,
Scandinavia UK, more and more Asia
The Ahr is one of Germany’s northernmost wine regions. It is also one of the smallest, with vineyards extending only 24 km/15 miles along the Ahr River as it flows toward the Rhine just south of Bonn. From Altenahr, in the west, to the spa Bad Neuenahr, the vines are perched on steep, terraced cliffs of volcanic slate. In the broad eastern end of the valley, the slopes are gentler and the soils are rich in loess. Four out of five bottles of Ahr wine are red — velvety to fiery Spätburgunder and light, charming Portugieser predominate, with plantings of Dornfelder on the rise. Lively, fresh Riesling and Müller-Thurgau are the white wines produced here. The quality and grandeur of these reds, particularly Spätburgunder and the specialty Frühburgunder, merit their international standing. Nearly all the vines are precariously perched on rugged crevices on extremely steep slopes that can only be tended by hand; a few solitary parcels require mountain climbing skills to be reached. The Burgundian climate of the Cologne lowland heats up the barren slate soils during the day; they gently release the warmth at night. The resulting wines are just as spectacular as the view from the vineyard heights into the valley. Most growers are members of the five cooperatives that produce and market about 75% of the region’s wine. The State Wine Domain at the 12th-century monastery Kloster Marienthal is the Ahr’s largest wine estate. Nearly all of the region’s wine is consumed locally or sold to tourists.
|Baden||Lat: 48.000; Long: 7.850||2000 hours of sun||Shell-limestone in Tauberfranken.
Elsewhere, a wide variety including keuper, loam, loess, granite, clay,
limestone and sand. The Kaiserstuhl is an extinct volcano, while glacial
deposits (moraine) are typical of the Bodensee district.
|15,944 ha / 39,396 acres||Riesling (7%)||approx. 400, plus 400 grape producers||62 hl/ha||dry||mostly Germany, USA, Canada, Netherlands, Belgium,
Scandinavia UK, more and more Asia
|Baden is the southernmost of Germany’s wine regions. It is primarily a long, slim strip of vineyards nestled between the hills of the Black Forest and the Rhine River, extending some 400 km/240 miles from north to south. Comprised of nine districts, Baden has many soil types and grape varieties. Nearly half of the vineyards are planted with Burgunder (Pinot) varieties: Spätburgunder (Pinot Noir), yielding velvety to fiery red wine and refreshing Weissherbst (rosé), ranging in style from dry to slightly sweet; Grauburgunder (Pinot Gris), a dry, food-compatible wine, or marketed under the synonym Ruländer to denote a richer, fuller-bodied (and sweeter) style; and Weissburgunder (Pinot Blanc), neutral enough to accompany many foods. Spicy Gewürztraminer and the noble Riesling are specialties of the Ortenau district near Baden-Baden, where they are known as Clevner and Klingelberger, respectively. Light, mild Gutedel (synonymous with the Chasselas of France and Fendant of Switzerland) is a specialty of the Markgräflerland district between Freiburg and the Swiss border.
Baden is Germany’s warmest and sunniest region, with a climate as Mediterranean as its culture and lifestyle. Thanks to the forested hills of the Odenwald, Vosges, and Black Forest, the vineyards are well-protected from cold winds, yet supplied with sufficient rainfall. A perfect symbiosis. The landscapes are as varied as the terroirs that stamp the character of the wines. In the north,vineyards extend from Tauberfranken, not far from the banks of the Main, to Heidelberg on the Badische Bergstrasse and the hilly Kraichgau district. Further south, between the Black Forest and Rhine meadows, lie the Ortenau district and terraced valleys of the Breisgau district. The ridges of the Kaiserstuhl (an extinct volcano) and Tuniberg (chalky hills covered with loess) draw near the Rhine. Baden’s southernmost vineyards are in the foothills of the Black Forest in the Markgräflerland district and on the slopes overlooking picturesque Lake Constance. The mild climate, its varietal makeup, and diverse soils – glacial deposits (moraine), limestone and shell-limestone, colored marl, clay, loess deposits, weathered granite, and soils of volcanic origin – make Baden a “land of great wine discovery.” Most growers are members of the ca. 100 cooperatives that produce and market about 85% of the region’s wine. The regional cooperative cellars in Breisach are the largest in Europe and the fourth-largest in the world. Exports play a minor role. Nearly half of production is sold in supermarkets; the other half in wine shops and restaurants, or directly to final consumers. At 35 liters in 1997, the per capita consumption of wine and sparkling wine in the Baden and Württemberg regions is the highest in Germany.
|Franken||Lat: 49.800; Long: 9.933||190 days without frost, 1750 hours of sun||Weathered, primitive rock and colored sandstone in
the Spessart Hills north of Miltenberg. Shell-limestone predominates in the
central district, while heavier gypsum and keuper soils are found further
east, near the Steiger Forest.
|6,005 ha / 14,838 acres||Riesling (5,1%)||900||50 hl/ha||dry||mostly Germany|
|Franken lies some 65 km/40 miles east of the Rhine, in Bavaria, with most of its vineyards planted on the hilly slopes lining the Main River and its tributaries. Würzburg is home of the famed vineyard Stein, which gave rise to the generic term Steinwein, formerly used to denote all Franken wines. Fuller-bodied, less aromatic, often drier, firmer and earthier, Franconian wines are generally the most masculine of Germany’s wines. Part of Franken wines’ singular personality is due to the climate: cold winters, high annual rainfall, early frosts long, warm autumns are rare. Müller-Thurgau (also called Rivaner), Silvaner and new crossings, such as Bacchus and Kerner, are the most important white varieties. Red wine grapes thrive in the western portion of the region between Aschaffenburg and Miltenberg. Juicy Silvaner wines are the region’s hallmark and source of its fame. Excellent Riesling, Spätburgunder, Rieslaner, Scheurebe, and Müller-Thurgau are also produced from the finest vineyard sites. Most of the wines are vinified dry – also a tradition here. The finest Franken wines are traditionally bottled in a Bocksbeutel, a squat green or brown flagon with a round body which lends considerable recognition value to the region’s wines. The viticultural tradition of Franken has been closely tied to the Main River, Silvaner, and shell-limestone for many centuries. It is a region known for splendid art and architectural gems, such as the Würzburger Residenz, which are well worth a visit. The heart of the region is the Maindreick, a district that takes in Escherndorf, Volkach, and Nordheim on the “Main loop” and runs southward to Sulzfeld and Frickenhausen on the Main, and northwest of there, to Sommerhausen, Randersacker, Würzburg, and Thüngersheim. Shelllimestone soils predominate. In the Mainviereck to the west, on the edge of the Rhein-Main region, the grapes thrive in loam and colored sandstone, while the soils in the eastern portion of Franken, near the forested hills of the Steigerwald, are primarily colored marl and gypsum marl. Whether opulent or straightfoward, subtle or baroque: Franken wine is as diverse as the landscapes in which its grapes grow. The regional cooperative cellars in Kitzingen and smaller cooperatives produce and market about 40% of the region’s wine, the remainder is handled by private and state-owned estates. Exports play a minor role. Four out of five bottles of Franken wine are consumed within a 250-km/155-mile radius of where it is produced.|
|Hessische Bergstraße||Lat: 49.733; Long: 8.617||1328 hours of sun||The soils are varied, ranging (north to south)
from porphyry-quartz to weathered granite to sand and loess-loam.
|444 ha / 1,097 acres||Riesling (50.6%)||200||60 hl/ha||dry||mostly Germany, USA, Canada, Netherlands, Belgium,
Scandinavia UK, more and more Asia
|The tiny region Hessische Bergstrasse takes its name from an old Roman trade route known as the strata montana, or mountain road. It is a pretty landscape of vines and orchards scattered on hilly slopes famous for its colorful and fragrant springtime blossoms, the earliest in Germany. Riesling and Müller-Thurgau account for two-thirds of the area under vine. The wines tend to be fragrant and rich, with more body and an acidity and finesse similar to those of the Rheingau. Well over half of the region’s wine-growers deliver their grapes to the regional cooperative cellars in Heppenheim. The State Wine Domain in Bensheim is the region’s largest vineyard owner. Given the small size of the region, Bergstrasse wines are scarce and almost without exception consumed locally.|
|Mittelrhein||Lat: 50.067; Long: 7.767||1200 hours of sun||Primarily clayish slate and greywacke.||495 ha / 1,223 acres||Riesling (69.1%)||150||65 hl/ha||dry||Germany, USA, Netherlands, Norway, Canada, UK,
Sweden, Japan, Belgium
|The stretch of the Rhine Valley between Bonn and Bingen known as the Rhine Gorge.
Beginning just below Bonn and extending about 100 km/60 miles south along the banks of the Rhine, the Mittelrhein is a beautiful region of steep, terraced vineyards and some of the wine world’s most splendid scenery medieval castles and ruins clinging to rocky peaks, sites of ancient legends where Siegfried, Hagen and the Loreley seem to spring to life. Nearly three-fourths of the vineyards are planted with the noble Riesling grape. The clayish slate soil yields lively wines with a pronounced acidity. In years when the wines are particularly austere, they are sold to the producers of Sekt , Germany’s sparkling wine, where high acidity is an asset. Riesling grapes, steep slate slopes with their sun-drenched vineyards, and the imposing river. Collectively, these elements form the breathtaking landscape of the Mittelrhein, and gave rise to Rhine romanticism. Thanks to its cultural diversity and beauty, the Upper Middle Rhine Valley between Bingen and Koblenz was named a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2002.
It is one of the few wine regions in the world to have received this honor. The region’s some 495 ha (ca. 1,140 acres) of vines are cultivated on both sides of the Rhine. Mightly castles lie in the midst of vines and/or crown the vine-clad slopes. Deeply rooted primarily in weathered Devonian slate, the vines soar upward from the banksof the Rhine at a steep angle to the river. The wines fascinate with their distinctive, long-lasting,fine fruitiness, and are all the more interesting when one considers the great variety of rocky deposits in the soils of individual parcels: quartzite, pumice stone, and red slate. Lots of sunny days, Mediterranean temperatures, and the tempering affects of the water’s broad surface enable growers here to produce terroir-driven, elegant wines with a fine fragrance. The Mittelrhein: a model of wine culture’s great diversity and natural beauty. About one quarter of the region’s wine is produced by seven cooperative cellars. As in the Ahr, nearly all of the wine is consumed locally or sold to visitors.
|Mosel||Lat: 49.917; Long: 7.067||1200 hours of sun||Dark Devonian clay slate on the steep slopes of the central Mosel and the Saar and Ruwer valleys; quarzite-sandstone mixed with slate on the lower Mosel (northern section); sandy, gravelly soil in the flatlands of the middle Mosel Valley; primarily shell-limestone (chalky soils) in the upper Mosel Valley (southwestern section, parallel with the border of Luxembourg).||9,006 ha / 22,250 acres||Riesling (60%)||2300||87 ha/hl||sweet||mostly Germany, USA, Canada, Netherlands, Belgium, Scandinavia UK, more and more Asia|
class=font0> Valley, a gorge the river carved between the Hunsrück and Eifel hills, and the valleys of its tributaries, the Saar and Ruwer rivers. The Mosel River is the sinuous spine of the Mosel region in Germany, changing direction so often as it flows northeast toward the Rhine that it meanders nearly 250 km/150 miles from the French border to Koblenz, to cover about half that distance as the crow flies. Together with its two small tributaries, the Saar and the Ruwer, the Mosel composes one geographical entity. Although each river’s vineyard area produces a wine with its own distinctive personality, the three share a family resemblance: a fragrance reminiscent of spring blossoms, a pale color, light body and a refreshing, fruity acidity. To add to their charm, they often have the slightest hint of effervescence. Most display their finest charms in youth; the late- and selectively-harvested wines merit aging. Along the serpentine route of the Mosel, the river banks rise so sharply that the vineyards carpeting these slopes are among the steepest in the world, with some planted at an astounding 70-degree gradient. On these precipitous inclines, nearly all labor must be done by hand. That includes tying each vine to its own eight-foot wooden stake, and carrying up the slate soil that has washed down with the winter rains. Riesling from the Mosel is legendary, and as full of life as ever. Nearly 2 000 years of uninterrupted viticulture have created a unique bond between its natural and cultural landscapes. The Mosel Valley’s vines lie between the hilly Eifel highlands in the north and the Hunsrück Hills in the south. The sites on steep slaty hills, in particular, bring forth very special Rieslings that number among the finest in the world. As the Mosel snaked its way through the valley, it left behind a series of slopes so steep that they can only be worked by hand. The warmth of the heat-reflecting slate is mirrored in the wines: mineral-rich and earthy, yet highly elegant, with refined, complex aromas. They are wines of nearly infinite longevity.
Saar und Ruwer: class=font0>No less steeped in fame and honor at home and abroad are the fine wines from the neighboring Saar and Ruwer valleys. The steep slate slopes that line the Saar (763 ha/1880 acres vineyard land) are planted with ca. 600 ha (nearly 1 500 acres) of Riesling. In sunny years, they yield full-bodied wines with a fine fragrance, elegant acidity, and endless depth. Even smaller in size, 182 ha (ca. 450 acres), is the Ruwer Valley whose Rieslings thrive in clayish loam with a high proportion of dark Devonian slate. The wines are subtle, with floral and herbal aromas, wonderful mineral tones, and a fine fruitiness. About one fifth of the region’s grape harvest is handled by the regional cooperative cellars in Bernkastel-Kues. Overall, the producers of bottled wine are cooperatives (13%), estates (28%) and commercial wineries (59%). The latter also bottle and market a healthy quantity of wines from other German wine-growing regions (e.g. the Pfalz and Rheinhessen) as well as less expensive, imported wines. Much of this production is exported. Nevertheless, direct sales to final consumers is an important sales outlet for smaller growers, who benefit from the region’s tourism. Zell, Bernkastel and Piesport are among the few German appellations of origin with a recognition value far beyond their borders.
|Nahe||Lat: 49.833; Long: 7.867||1200 hours of sun||The entire rock cycle of igneous (volcanic),
sedimentary (sandstone, clay, limestone) and metamorphic (slate) rocks is present in the Nahe.
|4,221 ha / 10,430 acres||Riesling (25.1%)||600||65 hl/ha||dry||mostly Germany, USA, Canada, Netherlands, Belgium,
Scandinavia UK, more and more Asia
|The Nahe region is named after the river that traverses the valleys of the forested Hunsrück Hills as it gently flows toward Bingen on the Rhine. It is a peaceful landscape of vineyards, orchards and meadows interspersed with cliffs and striking geological formations. Although the Nahe is one of the smaller German wine regions, its extraordinary range of soil types is second to none. For this reason, the region is able to produce quite diverse wines from relatively few grape varieties. The steeper sites of volcanic or weathered stone, and those with red, clayish slate seem predestined for elegant, piquant Riesling wines of great finesse and a light spiciness, while flatter sites of loam, loess and sandy soils yield lighter, fragrant Müller-Thurgau (Rivaner) wines with a flowery note. The Silvaner grape thrives in a number of soils and produces full-bodied, earthy wines. The vineyards stretch from the southern edge of the Rhenish slate mountains into the Nahe’s romantic side valleys marked by bizarre rock formations and lush, green hills. The Hunsrück Hills afford the vines protection from cold winds and excessive rainfall. In all, Rieslings as well as red and white Pinots thrive in the wellbalanced climate. Quartzite and slate predominate in the lower Nahe; porphyry, melaphyre, and colored sandstone in the central valley, including weathered sandstone, loess, and loam near Bad Kreuznach; and slate, quartzite, and sandstone in the upper Nahe. From these diverse soils come brilliant, longlived wines with a fine spiciness, fruit, and lasting mineral tones. All that has made German wine famous can be tasted in the Nahe. A high proportion of the region’s wine is sold directly to consumers by individual estates. The portfolio of the world’s largest direct marketing winery, WIV in Burg Layen, includes Nahe wine. There are cooperative cellars in Meddersheim and Bretzenheim (the latter receives members’ grapes; the wines are produced and marketed by the Mosel’s regional cooperatives cellars), but their role in the Nahe is less significant than that of cooperative cellars in other regions (e.g. Baden, Württemberg, Franken).|
|Pfalz||Lat: 49.350; Long: 8.150||1800 hours of sun||Loam is prevalent, often in a mixture with other soil types, such as loess, chalk, clay, colored sandstone or sand.||23,394 ha / 57,804 acres||Riesling (20.4%)||2900||78 hl/ha||dry||mostly Germany, USA, Canada, Netherlands, Belgium, Scandinavia UK, more and more Asia|
|Bordered by Rheinhesen on the north and France on the south and west, the Pfalz’s vineyards sweep across this remarkably pretty, peaceful land for nearly 80 uninterrupted kilometers (50 miles). It is Germany’s second largest wine region in acreage, but often has the largest crop of all. It extends 85 km (some 50 miles) north from the French border at Schweigen to Bockenheim, not far from Worms. The word Pfalz is a derivation of the Latin word palatium, meaning palace. The English equivalent, Palatinate, is sometimes used to refer to the Pfalz. Modern technology and viticultural training have made their mark here in the past four decades. Yet for the visitor driving through the sea of vines along the German Wine Road, the scene is still pastoral with the tree-covered Haardt mountain range, castle ruins, fruit trees, and old walled villages of half-timbered houses. The Pfalz is second only to the Mosel in acreage planted with the noble Riesling grape. Here, it yields wines of substance and finesse, with a less austere acidity than their Mosel counterparts. Pleasant, mild white wines rich in bouquet and full of body are produced from Müller-Thurgau, Kerner, Silvaner and Scheurebe grapes, while smooth, fruity red wine is made from the Portugieser grape. In response to the growing demand for red wine, there are many new plantings of Dornfelder, which produces a deep-colored wine that can be quite complex, depending on the winemaking techniques employed. A paradise for vines, vacations, and gourmets alike.The vineyards lie adjacent to the protective Pfälzer woods of the Haardt Mountains, an extension of the Vosges range in France, which check wind and rain. The region has an unmistakable French touch with its nearly Mediterranean climate, charming landscape dotted by villages full of half-timbered houses, and the Pfälzers’ own joie de vivre. Nearly one out of four vines in the Pfalz is Riesling, which is also the most important variety for VDP estates. The Rhine plain between the foothills of the Haardt and the river provides optimal conditions for grapes, not least thanks to its geological diversity: weathered colored sandstone, slate, basalt, shell-limestone, and Rotliegend. In its own way, each lends a distinctive note to Riesling. Other traditional, high-quality varietals in the Pfalz include the Pinots (Weissburgunder, Grauburgunder, and Spätburgunder); fragrant Gewürztraminer and Muskateller; and elegant Silvaner. There are a large number of part-time wine-growers in the region who sell grapes or bulk wine to commerical wineries and producer associations who make and/or bottle and market the wine. Because of the large number of individual sites, about half the region’s wine is marketed under the name of a few collective sites (e.g. Niersteiner Gutes Domtal, Oppenheimer Krötenbrunnen). About one third of all Rheinhessen wine is exported, not least because it is the primary supplier of the components for Liebfraumilch. About a third of the region’s wine is sold directly to consumers and half is marketed through commercial wineries and some two dozen cooperative cellars. The Pfalz is an important supplier of the components for Liebfraumilch, much of which is bottled by large wineries in other regions and most of which is exported.|
|Rheingau||Lat: 50.033; Long: 8.133||1272 days of sun||Although the region is compact, there are many kinds of soil, including chalk, sand, gravel, all types of clay, loess, quartzite and slate.||3,167 ha / 7,825 acres||Riesling (78.2%)||600||78 hl /ha||dry||mostly Germany, USA, Canada, Netherlands, Belgium, Scandinavia UK, more and more Asia|
|The Rheingau is one of the most distinguished wine regions of the world.
Moving from east to west, the fairly flat, dimpled landscape evolves into progressively steep slopes. It is a quietly beautiful region, rich in tradition. Early on, its medieval ecclesiastical and aristocratic wine-growers were associated with the noble Riesling grape and, in the 18th century, were credited for recognizing of the value of harvesting the crop at various stages of ripeness from which the Prädikate, or special attributes that denote wines of superior quality, evolved. Queen Victoria’s enthusiasm for Hochheim’s wines contributed to their popularity in England, where they, and ultimately, Rhine wines in general, were referred to as Hock. The world-renowned oenological research and teaching institutes in Geisenheim have contributed significantly to the extraordinarily high level of technical competence in the German wine industry today. Two grape varieties predominate: the Riesling and the Spätburgunder. The former yields elegant wines with a refined and sometimes spicy fragrance; a fruity, pronounced acidity; and a rich flavor. The Spätburgunder wines are velvety and medium- to full-bodied, with a bouquet and taste often compared with blackberries. The Rhine interrrupts its journey from Switzerland to the North Sea only once, when it makes a broad bend at Wiesbaden, where it flows from east to west for some 30 km (20 miles) before its next bend at Rüdesheim, where it resumes it northerly course. Vines have long been cultivated on the south-facing slopes of the northern riverbank, nestled between the Rhine and the protective forests of the Taunus Hills. With the advent of Riesling, the region achieved world fame.
Nearly 80% of its 3,100 ha (some 7,700 acres) are planted with Riesling – a record among wine regions worldwide. The region’s easternmost vineyards overlook the Main River; the westernmost extend from Rüdesheim to Assmannshausen and Lorch. The Rheingau’s cultural landscape is rich in historical buildings and monuments that provide unique settings for festivals, tastings, and auctions. Its geological history is millions of years old, during which its diverse soils developed: quartzite and slate; loess; and gravelly, sandy, and clay sediments of the Mainz Basin, a prehistoric sea – soils that mark the terroirs in which Riesling thrives. The wines: elegant, fragrant Rheingau Rieslings of great finesse and longevity, whether dry or lusciously sweet. The finest fetch tremendous prices at auction. Compared with other German wine regions, the Rheingau has a high proportion of full-time wine-growers; sales of bottled, rather than bulk, wine predominate; and much of the region’s wine is sold directly to consumers. The region enjoys a broad domestic and international following. Compared with other German wine regions, the Rheingau has a high proportion of full-time wine-growers; sales of bottled, rather than bulk, wine predominate; and much of the region’s wine is sold directly to consumers. The region enjoys a broad domestic and international following.
|Rheinhessen||Lat: 49.967; Long: 8.050||1270 hours of sun||Loess, limestone and loam, often mixed with sand or gravel, are the main soil types. Rotliegendes is a red, slaty-sandy clay soil in the steep riverfront vineyards of Nackenheim and Nierstein and near Bingen, there is an outcropping of quartzite-slate.||26,171 ha / 65,666 acres||Riesling (10.1%)||2,900||81 hl/ha||sweet||mostly Germany, USA, Canada, Netherlands, Belgium, Scandinavia UK, more and more Asia|
|Germany’s largest wine region, Rheinhessen, lies in a valley of gentle rolling hills.
While vines are virtually a monoculture in the Rheingau or along the Mosel, they are but one of many crops that share the fertile soils of this region’s vast farmlands. Steep vineyard sites are confined to small areas near Bingen and south of Mainz along the Rhein Terrasse. Varied soils and the favorable climate make it possible to grow many grape varieties, old and new. In fact, many of Germany’s aromatic, early-ripening new crossings were bred in Rheinhessen by Professor Georg Scheu, after whom the Scheurebe grape is named (pronounced "shoy"). The region boasts the world’s largest acreage planted with the ancient variety Silvaner and is the birthplace of Liebfraumilch, the soft, mellow white wine originally made from grapes grown in vineyards surrounding the Liebfrauenkirche, or Church of Our Lady, in Worms. Rheinhessen wines are often characterized as being soft, fragrant, medium-bodied and mild in acidity pleasant, easy-to-drink wines. There are also wines of great class and elegance, with a depth and complexity second to none. Rolling hills, steep terraces, and the Rhine mark the landscape of Germany’s largest wine-growing region. The region’s vineyards are bordered by the Rhine to the north and east; the Nahe River in the west; and in the south, Rheinhessen seamlessly adjoins the Pfalz. The Rhine terraces of Nierstein are known for excellent Riesling. This is also the home of “Glöck,” Germany’s oldest documented vineyard site (AD 742). In addition to Riesling, Müller-Thurgau as well as excellent Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir thrive in all three districts of the region (Bingen in the northwest; Nierstein in the northeast; and Wonnegau in the south) – as does Rheinhessen’s traditional varietal Silvaner. Particularly the chalky terroirs in the vast expanses of rural, hilly countryside around Alzey yield wines of high international standing. This area extending from the hills to the banks of the Rhine boasts a broad range of soils: loess, sand, marl, limestone, clay, Rotliegend, brown earth, quartz, and porphyry. These varied soils, inherent to the region’s terroirs, contribute to the individual character of traditional Rheinhessen wines. There are a large number of part-time wine-growers in the region who sell grapes or bulk wine to commerical wineries and producer associations who make and/or bottle and market the wine. Because of the large number of individual sites, about half the region’s wine is marketed under the name of a few collective sites (e.g. Niersteiner Gutes Domtal, Oppenheimer Krötenbrunnen). About one third of all Rheinhessen wine is exported, not least because it is the primary supplier of the components for Liebfraumilch.
|Saale-Unstrut||Lat: 51.216; Long: 11.786||about 1300 hours of sun||Shell-limestone and colored sandstone.||652 ha / 1,611 acres||Riesling (6 %)||50||42 hl/ha||dry||region Saale-Unstrut, Leipzig, Berlin,|
|Vines have been cultivated since AD 998 on the hillsides lining the Saale and Unstrut rivers which lend their name to the small, but growing, Saale-Unstrut region. It is among the northernmost of Europe’s traditional wine regions. Due to this, and the cooler climate, the weather is more variable than in the regions to the west. As such, many of the vines are planted on labor-intensive stone terraces that help temper the climate. Yields are low and Spätlese or Auslese can be produced only in exceptionally warm years. The wines are labelled as varietals and, with the exception of extremely rare dessert wines, all wines are vinified dry and have a refreshing acidity.
Europe’s northernmost wine-growing region for quality wine production straddles the 51st degree of latitude between Leipzig and Weimar. In the mid-16th century, there were some 10,000 ha (ca. 24,700 acres) of vines in the greater area; today, the region’s 700 ha (ca. 1,700 acres) are cultivated on the slopes that line the gently flowing waters of the Saale, Unstrut, and Ilm rivers. Shell-limestone, colored sandstone, loess-loam, and copper schist soils bring forth fragrant Silvaner, powerful Weissburgunder, and mineral-rich Rieslings of great finesse, as well as red wines, such as Spätburgunder. Viticulture is only possible on well-protected slopes, and requires vigilance and a precise understanding of the terroirs on the part of the growers. The microclimates of the small river valleys provide additional, welcome warmth. Saale-Unstrut beautifully illustrates how complex and elegant “wines of thenorth” can be.
Most of the region’s vines are tended by part-time wine-growers who deliver their crop to the regional cooperative cellars in Freyburg. There are 14 private wine estates that produce and sell their own wine. The state-owned cellars "Kloster Pforta," named after the 12th-century monastery between Bad Kösen and Naumburg, is the region’s largest estate. The amount of wine produced annually varies tremendously, depending on weather conditions, and nearly all of it is consumed locally.
|Sachsen||Lat: 51.050; Long: 11.768||1300 days of sun||The steepest slopes are of weathered granite and gneiss, with loess or sand deposits in some of the vineyards.||446 ha / 1,102 acres||Riesling (15.9%)||35||40 hl/ha||dry||mostly Germany, USA, Canada, Netherlands, Belgium, Scandinavia UK, more and more Asia|
|Sachsen is Germany’s easternmost and smallest wine-growing region. Its recorded viticultural history dates from 1161 and parallels that of other wine regions, where the Church and the aristocracy were the primary medieval property owners and responsible for the development of the vineyards. In addition to viticulture, their legacy includes a wealth of art and architectural gems throughout the region. Most of the vineyards are between Dresden and Diesbar-Seusslitz, the northern end of the Saxon Wine Road. A few vineyards are being restored on the southern outskirts of Dresden and further south, in Pillnitz and Pirna, the gateway to Saxon’s Switzerland. Many of the small parcels are planted on steep, labor-intensive stone terraces. The proximity of the Elbe River helps temper the climate, but given this northerly location and growing conditions similar to those of Saale-Unstrut, it is not surprising that the early-ripening Müller-Thurgau predominates. Here, too, the wines are marketed as varietals and nearly always vinified dry.The wines from Europe’s northeasternmost wine region are true rarities. After all, Sachsen has fewer than 450 ha (ca. 1 140 acres) of productive vines, and its wines are highly sought-after by the local population and visitors alike. There’s much to see, from ancient hillside castles and vintners’ huts to splendid baroque palaces and gardens – all bear witness to a glorious past. The vineyards, many of which are terraced with quarry stone walls, extend from southern Dresden to slightly north of Meissen along the steep slopes of the Elbe River. Soils of granite and weathered porphyry predominate, often covered by deposits of loam, loess, and sandstone. Particularly in good years, Sachsen’s red and white Pinots, Traminers, and Rieslings can show remarkable complexity and depth. Goldriesling, a Riesling-Muscat crossing, is a specialty grown only in Sachsen. The continental climate and some 1,600 hours of sunshine annually enable grapes to develop the aromas of fully ripened fruit. Cool nights foster complexity and crispness. The wines of Sachsen are a unique expression of the aromas of warmth combined with the finesse typical of a cool climate. Most of the region’s vines are tended by part-time wine-growers who deliver their crop to the regional cooperative cellars in Meissen. There are a handful of private wine estates that produce and sell their own wine. The state-owned cellars in historic Schloss Wackerbarth (1730) in Radebeul and the region’s oldest estate at Schloss Proschwitz (privately owned) are Sachsen’s largest estates. Saxon wines are rarities, available in very limited quantities, and nearly all are consumed locally.|
|Württemberg||Lat: 48.783; Long: 9.183||1350 hours of sun||The soils are varied and include shell-limestone, keuper, marl, loess and clay.||11,459 ha / 28,314 acres||Riesling (17.9 %)||1,200||80 hl/ha||off-dry||mostly Germany, USA, Canada, Netherlands, Belgium, Scandinavia UK, more and more Asia|
|Apart from the urban centers of Stuttgart and Heilbronn, Württemberg is a rural, hilly countryside with vineyards and orchards scattered amidst forests and fields.
Most of the terraced vineyards of the past have been reorganized to improve efficiency. However, a number still exist, notably the so-called "cliff gardens" near the Neckar’s scenic loops between Besigheim and Mundelsheim. With more than half of its vineyards planted with red wine varieties, Württemberg ranks as Germany’s premier red wine region. The main variety is Trollinger, seldom found outside of this region, followed by Schwarzriesling, also known as Müllerrebe or Pinot Meunier, and Lemberger. An additional 919 ha / 2,270 acres are planted with Spätburgunder, Dornfelder and Portugieser. Much of the wine is light, fruity and easy to enjoy; but deep-colored, rich, full-bodied red wine with great class is also produced here. Riesling is an important variety in Württemberg, accounting for nearly a quarter of the vineyard area, followed by Kerner and Müller-Thurgau. Kerner, a crossing of Trollinger and Riesling, was bred at the region’s oenological research and teaching institute in Weinsberg. In general, the wines are hearty and full-bodied, with a vigorous acidity. The pleasure of wine is as much a part of Württemberg as its coat of arms bearing three stags’ antlers, the emblem of the long-reigning house of the Dukes of Württemberg. The majority of its 11 500 ha (28 400 acres) of vineyards lies between Stuttgart and Heilbronn in the central Neckar Valley – the heart of the region – and in the Rems Valley due east of Stuttgart; vines are also planted in the area between the southern Tauber Valley and Tübingen. The soils consist of various keuper (colored marl) formations and islands of shell-limestone. Traditionally known for its red wines, the region has gained new standing with its highly complex red cuvées. Riesling is the leading white variety. It yields wines that are distinctively more mellow and rounded in character than its counterparts in other German wine-growing regions. Four out of five growers cultivate less than one ha / 2.5 acres of vines. As such, most are members of cooperatives. The regional cooperative cellars in Möglingen process 80% of an average harvest, including the grapes from 36 local cooperatives. An additional 32 local cooperatives make and market their own wine. Exports play a minor role and indeed, very little wine is sold outside of the region. The local inhabitants are thirsty, loyal customers. At 35 liters in 1997, the per capita consumption of wine and sparkling wine in the Baden and Württemberg regions is the highest in Germany.