Regions and Appellations Germany

German Wine

Germany – famous primarily for the world-class Riesling produced in its Mosel region – is entering a new stage of its wine history. In the early 21st Century, the country's winemakers are proving convincingly that they are good for more than just Mosel Riesling. Top quality German Spätburgunder (Pinot Noir) is now emerging from various regions, particularly Baden, Pfalz and even the tiny Ahr Valley.

One of many vineyard-lined bends on the meandering Mosel River.

Overlooking a period of decidedly lesser glory – during the 1970s and 1980s – Germany has a long and illustrious history of winemaking. The Romans established the country's first vineyards along the banks of the Mosel, near what is now the town on Trier. By the third century AD plantings had spread to various neighboring valleys, mostly those of the Mosel's tributaries. During the Middle Ages the Christian church, particularly the Cistercian and Benedictine monasteries, was very influential in the development of wine growing and in the production of quality wine in Germany. Two of the most famous names in German wine – the Rheingau wineries Schloss Johannisberg and Kloster Eberbach – were established as monasteries, and have been producing wine for almost 900 years.

Germany’s greatest variety, Riesling, is first documented in the Rheingau in 1435, and found its way to the Mosel shortly thereafter. In 1720, Schloss Johannisberg became the first major vineyard to be planted exclusively to this 'superior' variety. The mid to late 18th Century saw the development of botrytized wines, and by the 19th century Rhine wines were selling for prices above those of the first-growth Bordeaux.

The German wine industry lost its way in quality terms during the 20th Century, expanding plantings onto less-favorable sites and increasing yields to levels at which quality was severely compromised. However, the greatest German producers, sites and wines were never completely lost, and since the late 20th century considerable efforts have been made to re-establish Germany’s former glory. Yields are now constrained by law, and many top producers have joined forces, forming the VDP association (see German Wine Labels). The VDP's members are bound by the membership to focus their efforts on the quality rather than quantity.

In terms of volume, Germany is among the top ten countries in the world for annual wine production. A little over 60% of the wine produced is white, and there is wide agreement that the white wines from the best sites and the most reputable producers in Germany are some of the greatest in the world. Germany's red wines too are gaining in popularity and quality, especially those from Spätburgunder, the local name for Pinot Noir. The next most popular red-wine variety (in terms of acres planted, at least) is Dornfelder.

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Most Popular German Wine

Based on search frequency, updated monthly
Wine Name
Grape
Popularity
Score
Avg Price
Egon Muller Scharzhofberger Riesling Trockenbeerenauslese, Mosel, Germany Riesling 558th 96 $15,237
Egon Muller Scharzhofberger Riesling Kabinett, Mosel, Germany Riesling 564th 91 $110
Weingut Keller G-Max Riesling Trocken, Rheinhessen, Germany Riesling 582nd 95 $2,168
Weingut Keller Dalsheimer Hubacker Riesling Grosses Gewachs, Rheinhessen, Germany Riesling 714th 93 $224
Joh. Jos. Prum Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Auslese, Mosel, Germany Riesling 784th 93 $63
Weingut Keller Westhofener Brunnenhauschen Abts Erde Riesling Grosses Gewachs, Rheinhessen, Germany Riesling 864th 94 $379
Weingut Keller Westhofener Kirchspiel Riesling Grosses Gewachs, Rheinhessen, Germany Riesling 873rd 93 $220
Egon Muller Scharzhofberger Riesling Spatlese, Mosel, Germany Riesling 888th 94 $189
Weingut Wittmann Morstein Riesling Grosses Gewachs, Rheinhessen, Germany Riesling 915th 93 $85
Egon Muller Scharzhofberger Riesling Auslese, Mosel, Germany Riesling 923rd 94 $517
Black Forest Distillers Monkey 47 'Distillers Cut' Schwarzwald Dry Gin, Germany Gin 1,175th $320
Joh. Jos. Prum Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Spatlese, Mosel, Germany Riesling 1,183rd 93 $51
Weingut Donnhoff Niederhauser Hermannshohle Riesling Grosses Gewachs, Nahe, Germany Riesling 1,240th 93 $75
Georg Breuer Rudesheimer Berg Schlossberg Riesling, Rheingau, Germany Riesling 1,323rd 93 $250
Loosen Bros Dr. L Riesling, Mosel, Germany Riesling 1,360th 88 $12
Schafer-Frohlich Bockenauer Felseneck Riesling Grosses Gewachs, Nahe, Germany Riesling 1,432nd 94 $71
Jagermeister, Wolfsbuttel, Germany Bitters 1,444th $22
Joh. Jos. Prum Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Kabinett, Mosel, Germany Riesling 1,488th 91 $36
Joh. Jos. Prum Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Auslese Goldkapsel, Mosel, Germany Riesling 1,603rd 95 $113
Weingut Keller 'Von der Fels Riesling' Trocken, Rheinhessen, Germany Riesling 1,655th 91 $38
Pieroth Blue Burg Layer Schlosskapelle Qualitatswein, Nahe, Germany Rare White Blend 1,855th $21
Schloss Johannisberg Grunlack Riesling Spatlese, Rheingau, Germany Riesling 2,089th 91 $45
Egon Muller 'Scharzhof' Riesling, Mosel, Germany Riesling 2,147th 90 $51
Weingut Emrich-Schonleber Monzinger Halenberg Riesling Grosses Gewachs, Nahe, Germany Riesling 2,149th 93 $54
Fritz Haag Brauneberger Juffer Sonnenuhr Riesling Auslese, Mosel, Germany Riesling 2,545th 92 $41
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To see how Wine-Searcher uses average pricing and professional wine critic scores on this page, please see Average Wine Prices and Wine Scores. To find out about popularity, please see Wine Ranks.
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