Germany has hundreds of wine festivals each year. But to prepare for all that entertainment requires an even larger measure of hard work in its world-famous vineyards.
Nowhere is that effort demonstrated more than in Baden. At the southernmost tip of Germany’s wine districts, this narrow strip of land extends from Heidelberg in the north to Lake Constance in the south.
Although third in size, Baden may well be the most distinguished. Located near the famous Black Forest, the soils range from gravel and limestone, to clay and volcanic rock. The wine grapes vary correspondingly and include not only such well-known names as Pinot Gris, Riesling and Gewürztraminer, but also the less common Gutedel and Müller-Thurgau.
The region may also lead in wine consumption. German per capita wine consumption is 32 bottles annually. In Baden, this figure is 53 bottles per person per year.
Although nowhere near the largest wine producer in Germany, the village of Bacharach in Mittelrhein— named for the Greek god of wine Bacchus — has been among the premier producers since the Middle Ages.
The clay-like slate soils produces grapes of delightful acidity. Riesling, Kerner and Müller-Thurgau are among the varieties grown in this region that ranges south from Bonn for 100 km (60 mi) along the banks of the Rhine.
Vineyards are often situated on the steep, rocky slopes amidst the grounds of medieval castles. From these vines comes a sparkling wine that is second to none.
Centrally located, Rheingau is among the oldest of Germany’s wine districts. Situated between Lorch near Mittelrhein and Hochheim on the Main River, the hillsides are covered by the forests of the Taunus Hills.
It is said that the Botrytis fungus was first utilized here, to help the world famous Rieslings of the region. Pinot Noir is also cultivated here, lending itself to the spicy and full-bodied Spätburgunder.
Developed over centuries by the inhabitants of monasteries and cloisters, the region’s wines once graced the table of Queen Victoria. That knowledge has led to the attitude where oenological institutes here are recognized as among the finest in the world.
Bordered on the north and east by the Rhine and on the west by the Nahe River, this 1,667 square km (600 sq mi) region is second in size only to Pfalz.
Second in size, but certainly not second in quality. The communities of Bingen, Mainz and others of the area, benefit greatly from the variety of soil types and micro-climates. As a result they can produce a Portugieser red wine of great distinction. And the ancient Silvaner has long been the pride of these vintners.
Famed world-wide for its chalk, marl, and clay soils, Pfalz is Germany’s largest wine producer. Müller-Thurgau, Silvaner, Kerner and Morio-Muskat are only a few of the grapes cultivated here. A relatively new red grape from the Dornfelder grown here produces a complex, full-bodied wine.
Pressed up against France on the south and west, and bordered by Rheinhessen to the north, this region stretches over 80 km (48 mi). Along this countryside, viticulture has reached a pinnacle of wine making.
But whether large or small, all of Germany’s wine making regions are filled with vintners who take great pride in creating wines that make the German wine festivals popular with visitors the world over.