Growing vine in Germany is a tradition that is thousands of years old. The Romans brought viniculture through the Rhone Valley to the Moselle region and the Rhine area. Vineyards were found, thanks to earth movements close to the Middle-Mosel, that indicate vine growing since the first century. Similar vineyards that prove Roman viniculture were found in the Palatinate.
During the medieval warm age the climate was relatively mild. The population grew and in Europe the vines thrived. The overall area in Germany where vine was grown comprised about 300,000 hectares in the 16th century, which is three times the size it is today. The production was high, and wine could be transported to Scandinavia, England and the Netherlands on the Rhine and its tributaries.
The German civil wars, that started in 1524, and the increasing competition with wines from France and Italy caused a decline in the German wine production. After the French revolution the big wineries of the monasteries, the churches and the aristocracy were nationalized, divided and sold on public auction. In 1892 the first wine laws were introduced which only allowed controlled sugaring, for instance. In consequence of the two World Wars, the vine yards suffered a decline down to 50,000 hectares. Only since 1950 wine growing started to recover.
Germany owns the most northern vine growing areas, favoured by the Gulf Stream in the west and by the dry climate in the east. The continental climate offers beneficial conditions for expressive fruity wines thanks to its distinct seasons and the great differences in temperature between day and night. German wines are distinguished in particular by their lightness, fruitiness and freshness. They are rich in alcohol and durable due to short extreme summers. For these reasons, Germany’s premium wines have achieved an international popularity.
In 1971 high quality standards were uniformly set. Therefore, every German quality wine psr or quality wine with distinction is officially examined on the quality standards. Each wine receives a verification number after the successful examination which has to be displayed on the label.
Currently, the vine growing area comprises 102,000 hectares. 64% of the cultivated vines are white vines, 36% are red.
The most important white vines are Riesling, Müller-Thurgau (Rivaner), Silvaner, Grauburgunder (Ruländer, Pinot Gris), Kerner, Weißburgunder, Bacchus, Scheurebe, Gutedel, Chardonnay, Traminer and Faberrebe
The most important red vines are Spätburgunder (Pinot Noir), Dornfelder, Portugieser, Trollinger, Schwarzriesling, Regent and Lemberger.