German Wine Regions and the Wines They Produce:
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.