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German Wine Regions

German Wine Regions


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Rheingau

The first vineyards in this fecund vineyard region along the Rhine River, in the state of Hesse west of Frankfurt in west-central Germany, were probably planted by the Romans, and throughout the Middle Ages, many of the best vineyards were planted and tended by monks. Typically, the grape produces wines with intense varietal fruit, good acidity, and an aroma variously described as suggesting perfume and gasoline. These wines may be anything from bone dry to intensely sweet, depending on category. Surprisingly, the second most widely planted variety is spätburgunder, which is pinot noir, and there is interesting red wine made here, too, not always as light as expected. The Rheingau, like the other 12 quality wine districts in Germany, is divided into geographical categories, including collective vineyard (Großlagen) and single vineyard (Einzellagen) designations. Some of the most famous and highly regarded Einzellagen villages include Hochheim, Erbach, Schloß Vollrads, Schloß Johannisberg, Geisenheim, and Rüdesheim.
http://www.thedailymeal.com/germany-rheingau

Mosel-Saar-Ruwer

The Mosel wine region in western Germany, known until 2007 as Mosel-Saar-Ruwer (the Saar and the Ruwer being two tributaries of the Upper Mosel River), produces white wines — principally riesling-based, but also often including müller-thurgau, elbling, and other varieties — of the utmost refinement and elegance. They are high in acid, low in alcohol, and wonderfully fragrant; like the wines of the Rheingau, they may be bone-dry or intensely sweet or anything in between. The region is noted for its Eiswein, or ice wine, made with grapes that have frozen on the vine, concentrating their sugar. As in the Rheingau, the Mosel, like the other 12 quality wine districts in Germany, is divided into geographical categories, including collective vineyard (Großlagen) and single vineyard (Einzellagen) designations. These are divided into six Bereiche, or districts.
http://www.thedailymeal.com/germany-mosel-saar-ruwer

Other German

Almost two-thirds of Germany's wine production — and six of its 13 quality wine regions — is concentrated in the state of Rhineland-Palatinate. This includes the vineyards of the Mosel and of the Palatinate, or Pfalz. The latter is one of the largest wine regions in Germany, and produces excellent wines, most of them dry. The whites are made from riesling, müller-thurgau, sylvaner, and other typical German varieties, but also sometimes employ chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, grauer burgunder (pinot gris), weißer burgunder (pinot blanc), and other imports. Likewise the red wines, which account for about 40 percent of the Palatinate's production, may be made from such German cultivars as dornfelder or roter traminer, but also from spätburgunder (pinot noir), cabernet sauvignon, or merlot. Germany's other quality wine regions are: Ahr (specializing in pinot noir), Baden, Franconia, Hessische Bergstraße, Mittelrhein, Nahe (producing increasingly impressive rieslings), Rheinhessen (the largest wine-producing region in the country), Saale-Unstrut and Saxony (in the former East Germany), and Württemberg (best-known for fruity red wine made from the local trollinger grape).


German wine regions (II) - Nahe, Pfalz and Baden

Today let&rsquos have a look at another three key wine regions in Germany.

This region gets its name from the river Nahe, which joins the river Rhine at the north.

One of the most distinctive features of this region lies in the diversity of soil&mdasheven a single vineyard can contain several different soil types. The geographic complexity is reflected in the grapes, producing wines, namely Rieslings, of extraordinary finesse and delicacy.

World-class Rieslings can be found in the south and west part of the region, especially the steepest slopes on the north bank of the river Nahe between Monzingen and Bad Kreüznach.

In addition to Riesling, Müller-Thurgau and Silvaner are also widely planted, making acceptable wines of less complexity.

Pfalz is situated to the north of the French border, close to Alsace. It is a comparatively warm region, and is one of the most productive regions in Germany, thanks to the widely planted Müller-Thurgau.

The sufficient sunshine in Pfalz adds extra ripeness and distinctive spice to its wines. Traditionally wines produced in Pfalz are dry and rich. Riesling is not necessarily the king in this region. Pinot Blanc (Weissburgunder) and Pinot Gris (Grauburgunder) can also produce outstanding white wines. Red grapes are widely planted here, among which Pinot Noir (Spätburgunder) and Cabernet Sauvignon are responsible for some excellent German reds.

This is the longest, warmest and most southerly wine region in Germany, typically known for producing dry, powerful and ripe wines.

Due to the warm weather, Riesling (known locally as Klingelberger) is less common than Müller-Thurgau, Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc and Pinot Noir. The oak-aged, highly fashionable Pinot Noirs produced in Kaiserstuhl are especially known for their fruitiness and richness.

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German Wine Regions: Franken

About a year ago, I made my first trip to Franken (Franconia). I fell in love with the gently rolling green hills, the colorful, historic cities and the welcoming people. Throughout our visit, which lasted nearly a week, I felt completely happy, surrounded by history, nature and vibrant culture.

I also fell in love with Franken wine.

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Where I live, Franken wine isn’t readily available, but some wine shops do carry one or two types. I’ve found it in some surprising places – college town wine shops, eclectic grocery stores – and I usually grab a bottle when I stumble upon a display of Franken wines.

Many wine writers have commented on the distinctive, dumpily-rounded Franken “Bocksbeutel,” or wine bottle, so I’ll be brief. The bottle’s unusual shape dates back to at least the 16th century. The name has several possible origins, but the most commonly accepted translation related to certain dangling, rounded parts of a male goat’s anatomy. The Bocksbeutel may only be used for Franken wines and a couple of other European wine varieties. Some Franken wineries have switched, at least in part, to traditionally-shaped bottles.

If you visit Franken, you’ll find that nearly all wines produced there are whites. Some wineries also make rosés and reds, but over 90 percent of Franken wine grapes are white. While silvaner is commonly associated with Franken, wine growers actually plant a wide array of white grape varieties. Riesling, Müller-Thurgau, weisser burgunder and many other varieties grow well in Franken. Most of the Franken wines that cross the Atlantic are silvaners.

Franken is now part of Bavaria, but this area of Germany isn’t known for lederhosen and Alpine scenery. Franken has its own distinct history and culture. Nürnberg, for example, is known as the birthplace of Albrecht Dürer and as the capital of Lebkuchen, a traditional spiced gingerbread. Würzburg, in the heart of the Franken wine region, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, as is Bamberg. Shoppers from around the world flock to the Christmas markets of Franken, especially to Nürnberg’s enormous Christkindlmarkt.

Franken’s history has a darker side, too, because Hitler chose Nürnberg as the site of his infamous rallies. The post-war Nazi war crimes trials were deliberately held in Nürnberg – then known as Nuremberg in German – and the city changed its name to symbolize its break with Nazism. Today, you can visit the crumbling Nazi stadium and tour its new information center.

If you head out of the cities, you’ll see why this part of Germany is called “Franconian Switzerland.” Home to deep forests, sloping hills and sparkling rivers, Franken boasts some of Germany’s prettiest countryside. Fortunately, nine nature parks preserve this outdoor heritage.

Franken’s natural history includes its prehistoric past, which has shaped the landscape and the local terroir. Parts of Franken were under water, while other, higher areas accepted river deposits which hardened into sandstone. Much of Franken has a layer of shell-filled limestone, indicating that the region was mostly under water for a certain length of time. Later, the Keuper layers formed as the seas receded and plants and animals began to thrive. The Keuper divisions can include marl, limestone, dolomite, sandstone and gypsum.

Franken’s climate is continental, which means that summers are short and winters tend to be harsh. Some of Franken’s best vineyards, such as Weingut Horst Sauer’s Escherndorfer Lump and the Würzburg Stein, have distinct micro-climates.

There are, of course, many Franken wineries to visit. If you happen to be in Würzburg, head to Weingut Juliusspital in the heart of the city. Gault-Millau says this winery “is among the most imposing representatives of wine culture in the country,” in The Guide to German Wines. You can tour the winery, choosing a one- or three-glass tasting session, as an individual visitor, but your tour will be in German. The winery presents English-language tours to groups. Hours vary by season. The winery also has a restaurant and wine shop.

You can’t go wrong tasting Weingut Horst Sauer’s wines. Horst Sauer has a well-deserved reputation in the German wine world, and he produces high-quality silvaner wines every year. The winery is open to visits by appointment. As with any visit to a German winery, it’s always best to call ahead.

If you’d like to eat at a Franken winery, consider a visit to Weingut Am Stein outside of Würzburg. The winery’s restaurant, Weinstein, features market-fresh, seasonal dishes. You can try the winery’s finest offerings at the restaurant’s wine bar. The winery has a gorgeous view of Würzburg and the countryside don’t forget your camera.

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Our Top Germany Wine Regions

But Germany is also a major wine producer, with a history that dates back thousands of years. Let’s take a closer look at the Rhenish Hesse and Franconia wine regions, as well as the under-the-radar but oh-so-delicious German sparkling wine, Sekt.

Rhenish Hesse

Rhenish Hesse, or Rheinhessen in German, is the largest of the country’s 13 wine regions. The name Rheinhessen derives from the region’s location in the Rhine Valley , the river runs along its north and eastern borders. The river is crucial to the terroir of the region: It adds rich mineral deposits to the soil and helps to moderate temperatures in what would otherwise be a very hot valley. The hills surrounding the valley shield the vineyards from extreme weather, allowing for a more temperate, drier climate than the rest of the country.

These natural characteristics have encouraged the region’s inhabitants to cultivate grapes for wine since the time of the ancient Romans. The oldest record of a German vineyard is a deed from the year 742 AD, and another document dated from 1402 specifically identifies Riesling as a grape varietal. Rheinhessen’s largest city, Mainz, was an important trading port on the Rhine.

Rheinhessen, and Germany in general, is known for white wines. The most popular grapes in the region are Riesling, Müller-Thurgau, and Silvaner. A number of talented winemakers have recently made Rheinhessen their home, embracing organic and eco-friendly practices, shifting to smaller quantities, and producing dynamic wines that are earning widespread recognition.

Franconia

Located in the state of Bavaria, many of Franconia’s vineyards lay along the Main River. Similar to the Rhine, the Main helps to regulate temperatures and foster a climate that is ideal for growing white grape varieties, which dominate the scene here, occupying 80-90% of the vines. The region is famous for its Silvaner, which was served at Queen Elizabeth’s coronation in 1953. But Müller-Thurgau is actually the most widely planted varietal, followed by Silvaner, then Riesling.

The area has been producing wine for at least 1200 years, evidenced by documents that date back to 779 AD. Franconia is rich with medieval and Renaissance-era castles that add to the magical ambiance of the wine country. The region is also famous for its Bocksbeutel: thin, wide-based bottles whose signature shape is protected by the European Union.

While it may not have the name recognition of Champagne or Prosecco, German sparkling wine, Sekt, is considered by many to be the “next big thing”. Riesling is the most popular grape varietal used to make Sekt, but Silvaner, Pinot Blanc, and Pinot Gris grapes are also used. Sekt is produced using traditional fermentation methods similar to Prosecco and rivals its Italian and French counterparts in taste tests.

One reason that Sekt hasn’t yet reached the same level of popularity on the global stage? Because it’s so popular in its homeland 80% of Sekt is consumed within the country—a major reason why Germany actually has the highest per-capita consumption of sparkling wine in the world. So next time you celebrate Oktoberfest, don’t neglect Sekt!


The 13 German wine regions: The wineries and what else to do

The German wine regions are predominantly located in the southern and south-western part of Germany, all in close proximity to each other and can be easily reached through Frankfurt airport.

Only two wine regions, Saale-Unstrut and Sachsen are located in the eastern part of Germany. They can be best reached through the city of Dresden which has good rail and road connections to the regional airport of Leipzig/Halle or Berlin (about two hours).

Germany’s wine regions are best visited from mid- to late Spring through to the end of Autumn. This is the time when local wine festivals will be held and the regions offer a large number of wine-related activities.

Ahr Valley:

The smallest of the 13 wine regions is also one of the most northerly located, just south of Bonn on the fringe of the Eifel hills. The area stretches from Altenahr, in the west, to the spa town of Bad Neuenahr.

Ahr Valley (Photo: Pixaby)

A bit unusual for German wine regions, which are predominantly white, most Ahr wines are red, with Pinot Noir the dominant grape variety grown in the area.

Ahr Valley (Photo: Pixaby)

The area is furthermore home to the oldest wine association in the world, founded in 1868.

Best wineries and wines:

  • Weingut H. j. Kreuzberg, Dernau
  • Weingut Erwin Riske, Dernau
  • Weingut Meyer-Näkel, one of the frontrunners producing Pinot Noir
  • Weingut Nelles, Ahrweiler

Wine festivals:

  • Whitsun weekend (7th Sunday after Easter): Ahr wine market in Ahrweiler with the coronation of the „Queen of Ahr wines“ taking place on Whit Sunday
  • 4th weekend in July: Burgundy festival , Bad Neuenahr
  • 4th weekend in August: Country wine festival in Walporzheim with the vintners’ procession on Sunday and fireworks on Monday
  • 2nd last weekend in September: Wine festival „Art & Wine“ in Bachem with nighttime grape harvest with 10000 lights

Things to do and see:

  • Visit the oldest wine association in the world: Winzergenossenschaft Mayschoß-Altnahr
  • Hike the red wine trail which leads over 35 kilometres from Bad Bodendorf to Altenahr past hilltop ruins, forests, open fields and many vineyards connecting the wine-growing towns along the route.
  • Visit Saffenburg castle, dating back to the 11th century is one of the oldest castles in the Ahr valley.

Where to stay:

Baden:

The southernmost wine growing region in Germany boasts a sunny and warm climate. It stretches for around 400 kilometres from the town of Heidelberg down to the Swiss border and Lake Constance, making it the largest region in terms of coverage.

Baden is also called the capital of Pinot Noir however covering such a vast area there are several sub-regions producing their own style of wines.

Best wineries and wines:

  • Weingut Danner, Durbach: organic wine making
  • Weingut Engler, Müllheim
  • Weingut L. Bastian, Endingen am Kaiserstuhl , Vogtsburg-Oberbergen Kaiserstuhl

Wine festivals:

  • Wein auf der Insel (wine on the island) taking place in September Lauffen am Neckar on the first weekend in September
  • Heilbronner Weindorf (wine village) in Heilbronn during mid-September for eleven days including live music, hikes through the vineyards and city excursions

Things to do and see:

  • Lake Constance
  • Visit the towns of Heidelberg (incl. Heidelberg Castle), Konstanz, Baden-Baden, the small baroque village of Ettenheim or Freiburg in the Black Forest
  • Vitra Design Museum, Weil am Rhein, designed by Frank Gehry
  • Visit Hohenzollern Castle

Where to stay:

  • Schwarzer Adler (Franz Keller winery): including a Michelin-starred bistro with a wine list of more than 2,000 bottles. , Baden-Baden

Franken (Franconia):

Located some 60 kilometres from Frankfurt on the eastern side of the Rhine, the Franken wine region stretches to the south of Würzburg. Most of the vineyards are planted on the hilly slopes lining the Main River and its tributaries.

The area is home to the oldest still exiting bottle of wine.

Speaking of wine bottles, the region was awarded a ‘region of origin’ for its unique Bocksbeutel , a wine bottle shaped like a flattened ellipsoid.

Best wineries and wines:

    , Würzburg – offering also beautiful guest accommodation and the acclaimed restaurant Reisers am Stein
  • Weingut Rainer Sauer, Escherndorf
  • Weingut Rudolf Fürst, Bürgstadt
  • Weingut Matthias Hirn, offering also a guesthouse designed by acclaimed artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser

Wine festivals:

From early March to November, nearly every village across the Franconia wine region is hosting a wine festival. Below are just some of the larger / wider known.

  • Festival der Weine (literally: festival of wines), Markt Einersheim, early July
  • Summer wine time, Ipsheim in mid-May: a wine festival in the vineyards
  • Wine festival Coburg, end of May

Things to see and do:

  • Visit Würzburg
  • Hike around the four hectar Schlossberg (castle hill) extending below Marienberg Castle which is one of the most important protected monuments in the area. You will get amazing views over Würzburg and pass the oldest still existing vines of Müller-Thurgau.
  • Hike through the Odenwald forests and visit the historic villages of Miltenberg and Michelstadt.
  • Visit the 600 years old Castle Mespelbrunn water castle
  • Vogelsburg (Birds Castle) in Volkach-Escherndorf, dating back to 906 and overlooking the Main valley. The castle was carfully refurbished in 2011 and today hosts a restaurant offering excellent local food. During the warmer months, there is also an outside wine terrace.

Where to stay:

  • Schafhof Amorbach, Amorbach (read my review of the hotel here)
  • Weingut am Stein, Würzburg , Volkach

Hessische Bergstraße:

The area takes its name from an ancient Roman trade route, literally the ‘mountain route’. The area is Germany’s smallest wine-growing region, bordered by the Rhine on the west and the Oden Forest (Odenwald) on the east, and extends from Darmstadt to just north of Heidelberg.

Hessische Bergstraße (Photo: Pixaby)

The region is also known to be one of the earliest Spring blossoming area in Germany.

Half of grape varieties grown are Riesling.

Best wineries and wines:

Wine production in the region is largely concentrated in wine associations with only a very small number of independent wineries existing.

Wine festivals:

  • Bergsträßer Weinmarkt (wine market), Heppenheim, over 10 days from the final weekend in June
  • Benzheimer Winzerfest, Benzheim

Things to see and do:

  • Visit the historic towsn of Heppenheim and Bensheim
  • Hike the 7 kilometre long wine trail ‘Wein und Stein’ (wine and stones), along the route you will find lots of interesting information about wine production and sculptures also relating to wine history

Where to stay:

Middle Rhine:

Stretching for around 100 kilometres along the river Rhine from Bingen to Bonn, the area is characterized by steep, terraced vineyards, historic villages and a high number of medieval castles and monasteries. Indeed, the a 65 kilometres stretch from Bingen to Koblenz was added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage sites in 2002

Middle Rhine Valley

Nearly 70% of vines grown here are Riesling.

Best wines and wineries:

  • Weingut Matthias Müller, Spay
  • Weingut Lanius-Knab, Oberwesel
  • Weingut Ratzenberger, Bacharach
  • Weingut Toni Jost, Bacharach

Wine festivals:

  • Rhine in flames: which actually refers to five different events (and dates) taking place from May to September along the river Rhine. The main attraction are the big firework displays which take place along the river while at the river banks you will find many activities around local wine, with wineries and restaurants taking place in the event

Things to do and see:

  • Wander around the many little towns like Bacharach, Boppard, Oberwesel, Koblenz, St. Goar and St. Goarshausen
  • Hike the Rhine castles trail
  • Visit the world famous Lorely cliff
  • Go on a Rhine river cruise

Where to stay:

  • Hotel on Castle Schönburg, Oberwesel
  • Castle Reichenstein, Trechtingshausen
  • Romantik Hotel Castle Rheinfels

Mosel:

The Mosel wine-growing area stretches from the city of Koblenz to the south of Trier close to the Luxemburg border and also encompasses the valleys of the Mosel tributaries Ruwer and Saar.

Mosel (Photo: Pixaby)

The region is defined by the beautiful Mosel river and boasts some of the steepest vineyards in the world.

Mosel, Piesport (Photo: Pixaby)

The main grape of the area is Riesling and thanks to a good number of months with lots of sunshine means grapes grown in the area have a high level of sugar. Balanced with acidity and minerals this leads to the regions crisp style of Mosel Rieslings boasting delicious tropical fruit flavors: mango, banana, pineapple, sweet citrus and peach.

Best wineries and wines:

  • Weingut Lehnert-Veit, Piesport
  • Weingut Regnery, Klüsserath
  • Weingut Leo Fuchs, Pommern
  • Weingut Pauly, Lieser

Wine festivals:

  • Mosel Wine Week, Cochem:
  • Weinfest der Mittelmosel (wine festival of the Middle Mosel). In early September, the town of Bernkastel-Kues hosts its annual wine festival with lots of food and wine stalls, tastings and the crowing of a new wine queen

Things to do and see:

  • Visit the historic town of Trier, Germany’s oldest town with the highest concentration of Roman ruins north of the Alps. There are a total of nine UNESCO World Heritage sites in Trier and its surroundings. This includes Porta Nigra, the Emperors bath (Kaisertherme) one of the largest baths of the Roman Empire and Liebfrauenkirsche, the earliest gothic church in Germany, dating back to the 13th century.
  • The historic towns of Bernkastel-Kues, Cochem, Traben-Trarbach
  • Wine museum at Bernkastel-Kues
  • Reichsburg Castle in Cochem

Where to stay:

Nahe:

One of the smaller German wine regions, the Nahe is nestled in the Hundsrück hills between the Rhine and the Mosel valleys. The area stats just west of Mainz and ends south of Bad Kreuznach.

Despite the small size, the regions offers a huge diversity in its terroir.

Best wineries and wines:

  • Weingut Emmerich-Koebernik, Waldböckelheim
  • Weingut Poss, Windesheim
  • Weinburg Dr. Crusius, Traisen
  • Weingut Jakob Schneider, Niederhausen

Wine festivals:

Things to see and do:

  • Open air museums Bad Sobernheim: the 35 ha area highlights the history of wine growing from the middle ages to today, including an more than 2,000 sq m vineyard
  • Visit Disibodenberg in Odernheim which claims to be the oldest site in Germany where vines are grown. Traces of Roman vines have been found on the southern slope of Disibodenberg hill and grapes have been grown continuously in the abbey vineyard since the 11th century.

Where to stay:

Pfalz (Palatinate):

Germany’s second largest wine-growing region, the Pfalz extends from the south of Worms to the French border.

The most famous part of the area is the German Weinstrasse (wine route), the oldest wine route globally, formed in 1935. It stretches for about 80 kilometres from Schweigen-Rechtenbach close to the French border to Bockenheim.

Pfalz

It is one of the warmest and sunniest regions in Germany

Pfalz

Pfalz wines are typically bold and rich and characterized by their fruitiness.

Best wineries and wines:

Weingut Knipser, Laumersheim

Weingut Reichsrat v. Buhl, Deidesheim

  • Weingut Fritz Walter, Niederhorbach
  • Weingut Knipser, Laumersheim
  • Weingut Bassermann-Jordan, Deidesheim
  • Weingut Reichsrat von Buhl, Deidesheim

Wine festivals:

  • Wurstmarkt (sausage market) Bad Dürkheim: don’t get confused by the name, this is actually one of the biggest wine festivals in the area
  • Neustadt an der Bergstraße each year crowns the German National Wine Queen during a festival held in October

Things to do and see:

  • There is a huge number of small wine-growing towns all worth a visit: Bad Dürkheim, Deidesheim, Neustadt an der Weinstraße or Kallstadt are just some of them
  • Visit Spyer and its large cathedral (Dom of Spyer)
  • Visit Hambacher Schloss (Hambach Castle)

Where to stay:

    , Deidesheim (read my review of the hotel here)
  • Hotel Deidesheimer Hof, Deidesheim
  • Weingut am Nil, Kallstadt

Rheingau:

The perhaps most famous German wine region, Rheingau is home to some of the oldest German wineries and a wine-growing history dating back to Roman times.

Rheingau

The Rheingau area starts just south of Wiesbaden and stretches for around 40 kilometres along the Rhine river to end just north of Bacharach.

Nearly 80% of grapes grown are Riesling while the region is also known to produce excellent Pinot Noir (locally known as Spätburgunder).

Best wineries and wines:

  • Wein- und Sektgut Barth, Hattenheim
  • wineries of Kloster Eberbach, Schloss Vollrads and Schloss Johannisberg
  • Weingut Robert Weil, Kiedrich
  • Weingut Peter Jakob Kühn, Oestrich-Winkel

Wine festivals:

  • Rheingau Gourmet Festival: Hosted at Hotel Kronenschlösschen, this event brings together many Michelin-starred chefs and the best winemakers from around the globe each February.
  • Rheingau Wine Festival, taking place over 10 days in early August in Wiesbaden

Things to do and see:

  • Check out the many historic wine villages along the Rhine river: Oestrich-Winkel, Eltville, Rüdesheim and Assmanshausen
  • The area boasts some of the best preserved castles, several of them still among the oldest and largest German wine estates: Kloster Eberbach, Schloss Vollrads, Schloss Johannisberg
  • Niederwald war memorial

Where to stay:

  • Hotel Kronenschlösschen, Eltville
  • Hotel Burg Schwarzenberg (read my review of the hotel here)

Rheinhessen:

Rheinhessen is Germany’s largest wine-growing region, starting just south of Mainz.

Varied soils and the favourable climate make it possible to grow many grape varieties. Most of the area is rather flat farmland and vineyards are mostly nestled on gently rolling hills. The exception is the small Rhine terrace area south of Mainz which is spotting rather steep vineyards.

Rheinhessen vineyards

Rheinhessen vineyards are planted with over 70% white varietals.

Best wineries and wines:

  • Weingut Wasem, Ingelheim
  • Weingut J. Neus, Ingelheim
  • Weingut Pauser, Flonheim
  • Weingut Immerheiser, Schwabenheim
  • Weingut Kühling Gillot, Bodenheim

Wine festivals:

Things to see and do:

  • Visit Ingelheim, the red-wine capital of Rheinhessen with a large number of wineries
  • Visit the historic cities of Mainz and Worms

Where to stay:

Württemberg:

Germany’s premier red wine growing area with more than half of its vineyards planted with red varieties.

The region lies east of the Rhine and Baden, stretched between the Tauber Valley and the foothills of the Swabian Jura. Württemberg vineyards are located primarily along the valleys of the river Neckar and its tributaries Enz and Rems.

Best wines and wineries:

  • Weingut Aldinger, Fellbach
  • Weingut Jürgen Ellwanger, Winterbach
  • Weingut Herzog von Württemberg, Ludwigsburg

Wine festivals:

What to see and do:

  • Visit Stuttart, the capital of Baden Württemberg, including the Mercedes Benz and Porsche museums, Wilhelm Zoo and Botanical Gardens, the Sepulchral Chapel and the Stuttgart Palace with its beautiful Schlossplatz (castle square).
  • Visit Hohenzollern Castle, perched on the top of Mount Hohenzollern, about an hour’s drive from Stuttgart
  • Visit Tübingen, defined by narrow alleys and pointed gables in the old town and its nearly 30,000 students making it a highly vibrant and cosmopolitan place
  • Visit Rothenburg ob der Tauber with its fairytale old town and the surrounding Tauber Valley

Where to stay:

Saale-Unstrut:

This area is one of the most northern traditional European wine-growing regions. Vineyards are located along the hillsides lining the Saale and Unstrut rivers between Weimer and Leipzig. It’s one of the smaller but growing German wine-growing regions.

Saale-Unstrut vineyard (Photo: Pixaby)

Best wineries and wines:

  • Wein- und Sektgut Hubertus Triebe, Zeitz-Würchchwitz
  • Naumburger Wein und Sektmanufactur, Naumburg
  • Weingut Pawis, Freyburg

Wine festivals:

Things to see and do:

  • Visit Castle Neuenburg, a large medieval castle nestled on the hill above Freyburg. It is home to a museum that illuminates various aspects of medieval life. There is also a Romanesque two-storey chapel and a free-standing tower.
  • Visit the town of Naumburg incl. Naumburger Cathedral, a masterpiece of medieval architecture
  • Visit the Merseburger Cathedral, looking back of a 1,000 year history
  • Hike or bike around Geiseltalsee

Where to stay:

Sachsen:

One of Germany’s smallest and easternmost wine-growing region, located between Dresden and Diesbar-Seusslitz in the upper Elbe Valley.

Sachsen vineyard (Photo: Pixaby)

Whilst it’s often overlooked, the area actually looks back at a long history of wine production.

Best wineries and wines:

  • Weingut Schuh, Sörnewitz
  • Weingut Schloss Proschwitz Prince of Lippe, Zadel
  • Weingut Karl Friedrich Aust, Radebeul
  • Weingut Martin Schwarz, Dresden

Wine festivals:

From end of August through September, there are numerous wine-related events along the Elberadweg (the Elbe river bike route) between Dresden und Meißen including the ‘days of open wineries’, the Meißen wine festival and the Radebeuler Autumn and Wine fest.

Things to see and do:

Where to stay:

Have you been to one or more German wine regions? Let me know about your experience!


Wine Growing Regions

There is much to discover in Germany's winegrowing regions - breathtaking landscapes, history, wine culture, hospitality and enjoyment.
If you are seeking an active holiday, then you can try water-skiing or kite flying on the Mosel, kayaking down the River Main, free climbing in Württemberg or exploring on a motor scooter in the Pfalz.
If you are after relaxation, you are sure to find what you are looking for amongst the numerous Wine and Wellness offers. Wine routes take visitors to the most beautiful highlights whether hiking, cycling or driving. Some wine country can only be explored by foot, yet longer tours that follow a river are also ideal by bike.

There are many interesting activities, events, wine festivals, historical sights and nature reserves on offer in each German wine region.Tourist information offices in the different areas have special hiking and cycling maps, including prepared tour suggestions and package deals.

The typical Straußwirtschaften, cosy countryside wine taverns which are run by the vintners and only open during the summer season, invite you to rest and take in the local atmosphere. Look for a bouquet or broom hanging out the front to indicate that it is open. Here the vintners serve their guests homemade wine with inexpensive regional food. Some winegrowers offer overnight stays which is a blissful culmination to an eventful day in the wine regions, and a perfect way to experience local hospitality.

We wish you many wonderful hours exploring the wine regions and appreciating how they have played such an integral part in Germany’s culture and history.


German wine regions (I) - Mosel Valley and Rheingau

There are 13 wine-growing regions (Anbaugebiet) in Germany. Today let&rsquos take a closer look at two of the most famous regions among them.

Image: Weinberge ander Mosel,Urzig, provided by German Wine Institute

The Mosel Valley is arguably the best-known wine region in Germany. The name &lsquoMosel&rsquo comes from the famous river this region embraces. Its official name is Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, though the wine trade usually refer to this region simply as the Mosel.

The Mosel is primarily a white wine region. Its best vineyards are planted on the steep, south-facing slopes, and the combination of chilling climate and plenty of sunshine help to produce elegant, delicate, and light whites.

Widely planted white varieties include Elbling, Kerner and Müller-Thurgau, but the best quality wines are most likely made from Riesling. The best Rieslings can be found in the Saar and Ruwer valleys and the Middle Mosel (Mittelmosel). Generally speaking, wines from the Saar and Ruwer valleys are higher in acidity than those from Mittelmosel.

Image: Assmannshausen im Herbst, provided by German Wine Institute

In terms of global fame, Rheingau is a good rival to the Mosel.

Most of the vineyards in Rheingau are situated on the north bank of the river Rhine, and planted with Riesling. The dark, heat-absorbing soil is especially beneficial to retain heat and protect the vines.

The styles of wine in Rheingau vary more than the Mosel. Wines produced in the western areas of the region tend to be lighter and more elegant, while wines from the east are more likely to be riper and richer. The best-quality Rheingau Riesling can be found in the Middle Rheingau area between Rüdsheim and Wiesbaden. East of Rüdesheim, the town of Assmannshausen is known for producing Spätburgunder (Pinot Noir) of exceptional quality.

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German Wine Regions

Germany is well known for its white wines and for some, especially the baby boomers, the mention of German wines still brings flashbacks of names like Blue Nun Liebfraumilch, Hock and Black Tower. But German wine production has come a long way since the early years of cheap and sweet German wines. There are actually thirteen German wine regions that are defined as areas producing quality wine.

The wine regions are mostly in the west of Germany and six of the thirteen are in the federal state of Rhineland-Palatinate. Of course there are also other regions that produce table wines (Tafelwein) that are usually not exported.

The Rise of German Red Wines

Another change to the German wine landscape is the increasing production of red wine. Although Germany has traditionally been a land of white wines, German vintners are now increasingly turning their hands to reds, with pinot noir (Spätburgunder in German) leading the charge.

German Wine Regions

Below is the list of German wine regions, some more well known than others to the overseas visitor, but each one of these is as diverse as the wine it produces. The wine regions list is presented in two parts:

Ahr Wine Region

The Ahr wine region only has 552 hectares of vineyards and ranks number ten among the thirteen wine-growing regions. As well as pinot noir the Ahr region also cultivates the equally prized pinot madeleine. 87 percent of the vineyards grow red grapes, 60 percent of which are pinot noir (Spätburgunder). Other varieties grown include the portugieser grape variety, including dornfelder and pinot madeleine. White wines only account for a small portion of wine produced here and they are mostly riesling.
For those who want to explore the region, the Ahr Cycle Route may be of interest.

Baden Wine Region

The Baden wine region is well known for its remarkable wines. Protected by the Odenwald Hills and the Black Forest on one side and the Vosges mountains on the other, it enjoys a warm and sunny climate which is almost Mediterranean. Baden is the third largest wine region in Germany. 40 percent of Baden vineyards are planted with red wine grapes – mostly pinot noir – and these account for more than half of all German pinot noir production. The remaining 60 percent of Baden vineyards are allocated to white wine grapes such as riesling and müller-thurgau grapes, while chasselas is a Badensian speciality.
The Baden region is also famous for its asparagus and if you’re visiting in spring you can enjoy the famous white asparagus on the Baden Asparagus Route.

Franconia Wine Region

The Franconia wine region takes in northern Bavaria and a small part of southern Thuringia and Tauberfranken. Franconia’s best known grape variety is silvaner, followed closely by müller-thurgau. The leading red wine grapes here include the domina and pinot noir varieties. The Franconian region is used for commercial grape production. 40 percent of the wine here are sold in bocksbeutel, the distinctive squat flagon-shaped bottles that are associated with the Franconian region.

Hessische Bergstrasse Region

The Hessische Bergstrasse wine region became an independent wine-growing region in 1971. Today it is the smallest of Germany’s thirteen wine regions. It consists of two separate geographical areas: Starkenburg, south of Darmstadt, comprises the towns of Alsbach, Zwingenberg, Bensheim and Heppenheim, whereas the ‘Odenwald wine island’ is the area in and around Gross-Umstadt and Rossdorf. 80 percent of the area are white wines with the remaining 20 percent growing reds. Riesling dominates, followed by pinot gris, pinot blanc, müller-thurgau and silvaner. Red wines comprise of pinot noir, saint laurent, dornfelder and other varieties of reds. Some of the smaller vineyards cultivate special grape varieties such as gewürztraminer, chardonnay, merlot and cabernet sauvignon.

Middle Rhine Wine Region

This World Heritage region has 120 kilometres of lush vineyards stretching from Bingen to Bonn. The vines in the Middle Rhine wine region are grown on the steep slopes along the Rhine valley and here and there you’ll see beautiful Rhine castles. Riesling is the main drop here with 70 per cent of grapes going into riesling production. Riesling grapes are also used to make the famous sparkling sekt. Other grapes grown here include pinot blanc and pinot gris. Pinot noir and dornfelder make up the reds.

Moselle Wine Region

The Moselle wine region is the oldest wine region in Germany. The area climate here is ideal for rieslings and the white wines from the Moselle region rank amongst the finest in the world. The Moselle is the fifth largest wine region in Germany. Approximately 60 percent of the vines grow riesling grapes. A speciality of the region is elbling, an older variety which is now only cultivated to any great extent along the Upper Moselle. The other major white wine varieties are müller-thurgau (also known as rivaner), pinot gris and pinot blanc. 90 per cent of Moselle wines are white. Pinot noir, dornfelder, regent and other reds account for the remaining 10 per cent.


The Man from Mosel River

The Nahe wine region has a great significance for me and my family. It was here that I got first into contact with vine cultivation and wine appreciation at a rather tender age.

Why you might ask? Were you not from Trier, Mosel?
Well, my maternal grandfather, Hans Heinrich Schüssler, a native of Reichenberg, a village near Würzburg, used to live in Martinstein. Being from Franconia, another famous German wine region, he was the only wine drinker in the immediate family (my father preferred beer). He used to be the station master in Martinstein (today 322 inhabitants), a hamlet along the left bank of the Nahe river. The village was founded in the middle ages at a ford crossing the Nahe river. In 1340 it got a castle and even market (city) rights.

My brother and I, we used to spend the long summer holidays (and many other holidays) at my grandparents house in Martinstein. My grandfather used to take us on long walks in the forest and villages nearby. During these walks we always found a country inn where we could refresh ourselves, enjoy a drink or a “Brotzeit” (a typical German snack). He would drink a “Schoppen” (0.25 litre glass) of the local Nahe wine. He loved dry white wines. We would have a lemonade.

He was associated with a “hiking brotherhood” (called “Hunsrückhöhenverein”) whose members would walk in large groups on weekends to various destinations. Usually a country inn was the designated object of the hikers. Here the group converged for a hearty meal and some drinks. Shortly after vintage, “Federweisser” (freshly made but still half-fermented wine) was a popular drink.

But boys being boys, we would sip at his glass from time to time. He being deeply involved in conversation with fellow hikers, did not notice. Neither did we. The sweetness of the fresh wine veiled its dangers. To cut a long story short, we had the experience of a first inebriation of our young lives and could hardly walk strait on our long way home.

After my grandfathers retirement he moved out of the train station into a newly built home right in the middle of vineyards at the outskirts of the village towards the east. Vineyards stretched right to the door. Just a short walk up the hill and endless vineyards lay at your footsteps. Occasionally we would help during vintage time (more play than serious helping). But we would often taste fully ripened grapes and enjoy the fruit. I treasure these wonderful memories of my youth at my grandfathers house in Martinstein.

The Nahe wine region (photo source: wikipedia)

As you can see from the above map, the Nahe wine region stretches from Martinstein to the West along the river eastward, later north towards the estuary at Bingen where it flows into the Rhine river. The largest city in the region is Bad Kreuznach, a small town of about 45,000 inhabitants.

With about 4,200 ha under vines, the Nahe region is one of the smaller wine growing areas in Germany. It is still larger than, for instance the Yarra Valley in Victoria (with about 3,800 ha, about 2% of Australia’s total). The Nahe region is dominated by white grape varieties (about 74% of the total area under vines). The main variety is Riesling (26%) followed by Mueller-Thurgau (14%) and Dornfelder (13%).

Fifty years ago the variety distribution was very different. Silvaner used to be the most planted variety with about 50% of the total area but has ever since been replaced by the Burgundy varieties (Pinot White, Gris and Noir) as well as by Riesling, Dornfelder, Blauer Portugieser and Müller-Thurgau plantings.

The Nahe is divided into seven collective sites (Grosslagen) and 328 individual sites (Einzellagen). Due to its volcanic origins, the soils of the nahe show a great diversity. The wines reflect this. Only in 1971, the German wine law defined the nahe region. before that time, its wines were sold as “Rhine wines”. However, some of the best Riesling wines of germany originate from the Nahe and today Nahe wine can rival the best from Mosel and Rheingau or any other German wine region.

The Nahe can be divided into the upper (west) and lower (north-east) Nahe and the region around Bad Kreuznach. In Martinstein and the neighbouring village of Monzingen (first mentioned in 778) the oldest vineyards of the Upper Nahe are to be found. The soils of the Nahe range from sandstone to quartzite and slate. The region shows a temperate climate and some of the southern slopes enjoy a micro climate comparable to the Mediterranean. Elevations range from 100 to 300 meters altitude.

Who are the top producers of the Nahe wine region?

Well, the name Herrmann Doenhoff comes to mind. He is the leading vintner of the Nahe and his wines are ranked among the top Rieslings in Germany. Herrmann Dönnhoff has about 20 ha under vines and produces about 140,000 bottles a year. His winery is located in Oberhausen/Nahe. The 2007 vintage produced outstanding wines the 2008 Riesling wines did not quite reach that quality level during recent tastings. But his � Niederhäuser Hermannshöhle Riesling Gran Cru’ earned 93 Parker points.

Other top producers are Emrich-Schönleber in Monzingen (about 15 ha under vines, yearly production about 110,000 bottles), Schlossgut Diel (17.5 ha and 120,000 bottles) in Rümmelsheim and Schäfer-Fröhlich (14 ha under vines and 75,000 bottles annually) in Bockenau.

Wines and vintners I like very much are Sascha Montigny in Laubenheim and Weingut Edelberg at Gonratherhof 3 in Weiler just on the other side of Martinstein. The former I like because of the high quality of his red wines, especially the 2006 vintage the latter produces solid country wines which remind me of my youth in Martinstein and the long hikes with my grandfather. The country inn at Gonratherhof was often our destination when the three of us set out from our little house in the vineyards.


The Man from Mosel River

One of the premium Riesling producing wine regions in Germany is the Saar, which is part of the Mosel region (the English usually call it Moselle, using the French word for the river). In fact the Mosel Wine Region used to be called (until 2007) “Mosel-Saar-Ruwer”, the latter two being small tributaries to the larger Mosel river. Along the three rivers about 13,400 ha are under vines these days, most of the vineyards are to be found on steep slopes, offering breathtaking views.

The village of Wiltingen, home to many famous wine producers along the Saar

Along the river Saar vine cultivation goes back a long long time, roughly 2,000 years only. Until Napoleon conquered this part of the various German lands, most wineries were in possession of the catholic church, monasteries, and other clerical institutions. Napoleon secularized the administration and with it most vineyards and wineries came into private hands.

The area between Serrig and Konz is the main production base of the Saar. Further upriver only small and singular plots are planted with vines. The most renown wine producing villages along the Saar are
Serrig, Saarburg, Irsch, Ockfen, Ayl, Schoden, Wiltingen, Kanzem, and Wawern. Moreover we find vineyards along one of the smaller side valley’s Filzen, Koehnen, Nieder- and Obermennig, Krettnach and Oberemmel.

Ayler Kupp, one of the prime ‘terroirs’ of the Saar

The dominant variety is, of course, Riesling. The total area under vines is about 1,500 ha, mostly on steep slopes with gradients of up to 55 per cent. Other but minor varieties are Pinot Noir, Dornfelder, Pinot Gris, Rivaner, Kerner and Pinot Blanc. The soil consist mainly of blue Devon slate soils. The alcohol content of the wines is usually low (between 8 and 12 %), but the acidity of the wines shows excellent structures and compositions and this is why the wines can be cellared for long periods of time.

Steep vineyards in Ockfen

The vineyards are ready for spring to come

The two photos above were taken in Ockfen, showing vineyards in the location ‘Ockfener Bockstein’, one of the prime ‘terroirs’ in that village.

Springtime and lots of work to do to make the season a success. Lime is distributed by hand in the vineyards, here in Schoden.

There are many prime wine producers along the Saar. The top estate is probably Weingut Egon Mueller (also called the godfather of Saar Riesling) – Scharzhof in Wiltingen. Among the highest rated Riesling wines in Germany (on www.riesling.de) Egon Mueller has three of the top eight wines.

But there are many other prime producers. I can only mention a few. For instance Weingut Fortsmeister Geltz-Zilliken in Saarburg, or Schloss Saarstein in Serrig. Then there is the rising star, Roman Niewodniczanski and his team at Van Volxem in Wiltingen. His wine maker, Dominik Voelk, is young and ambitious, and by the way is a native of Franconia, a wine region with long traditions in excellence. When I visited the estate in March, he had completely sold out all his wines. I am now waiting for the release of the newest vintage in September (grand cru only). Then there is Weingut Dr. Siemens in Serrig and Weingut Peter Lauer in Ayl.

Also other producers are worth mentioning. Weingut Reichsgraf von Kesselstatt, which operates a wine bar just across the cathedral in Trier (Trierer Dom), possess vineyards in Wiltingen. Four star ratings were awarded to Weingut von Orthegraven in Kanzem and Weingut von Hoevel in Konz-Oberemmel but there are many others who produce excellent Saar wines.

I love the Saar Rieslings with their well balanced, “filigree like” acid compositions. I love them for their explosiveness, zest, intensive aromas they have structure and balance, are low in alcohol and usually impress with a long finish, lingering on your tongue’s taste buds like ballerinas which you can still see before your inner eye long after they left the stage.

I encourage you to visit the Saar and sample as many wines as you can, it’s worth it, definitely. This time of the year should be perfect, as the pictures below demonstrate. I hope they can entice you to give it a go and lure you to the Saar.

Explore the beauty of my home region, do not forget to visit Trier, its just around the corner.

Vineyards in Schoden

The ‘terroir’/location ‘Herrenberg’ in Schoden

Near Schoden the Saar is most picturesque. The hills, the forests, the river and the small villages offering local food and wines make the Saar a prime destination for tourism.


Watch the video: Rheinhessen - Deutsches Weinanbaugebiet (July 2022).


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