Landmarks of wine culture

As its famous monasteries, deep cellars, old vineyard sites and countless stories testify, Germany's great tradition of winemaking started with the ancient Romans. Discover treasures such as the oldest wine in the world, Götz von Berlichingen's vineyard, the world's biggest wine barrel and many more highlights of wine culture.
Disibodenberg abbey ruins where the oldest vines grow

Made famous by Hildegard von Bingen , Disibodenberg in Odernheim on the Nahe also plays a part in ancient viticultural history as 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.

Gut Hermannsberg estate: copper-bottomed riesling

Where outstanding riesling grapes now grow, copper ore was once excavated. Until 1901, the Kupfergrube vineyard in Schlossböckelheim was just what its German name means – a copper mine. The Prussian state established the Niederhausen wine estate and bought the land belonging to the Hermannsberg farm on the river Nahe in 1901. The first riesling vines were planted two years later.

Bad Sobernheim open-air museum: the history of wine brought to life

Nowhere is the history of wine growing from the Middle Ages to the present day illustrated so vividly as in the Bad Sobernheim open-air museum by the river Nahe . Established in the beautiful Nachtigallental valley in 1973, the museum occupies 35 hectares and attracts around 60,000 visitors a year, making it the biggest of its kind in Rhineland-Palatinate . The everyday life of vintners is brought to life in the buildings they lived and worked in, as well as in the museum's own vineyard.

Rhodt/Rietburg: oldest vineyard still in use

These are truly veteran vines. The 'Rhodt rose garden' already has over 400 years under its belt – and it is still producing wine. According to local legend, the vineyard in the wine-making village of Rhodt unter Rietburg has been in existence since before the Thirty Years' War of 1618 to 1648.

Wine cellar at the Vereinigte Hospitien estate

Germany's Roman heritage is tangible here. The origins of Germany's oldest wine cellar at the Vereinigte Hospitien (United Hospices) estate in Trier date back to the year 330 AD when two huge warehouses, known as horrea, stood here on the banks of the Moselle. Their walls with layers of decorative brickwork were up to eight metres high and still remain intact.

Vineyard sundials: measuring the sunny hours

They measure the progress of the day and are as old as humanity: until the early 19th century, sundials were synonymous with time itself – there were no other clocks. The principle is simple: a rod is fixed parallel to the earth's axis and the shadow it casts on a surface mounted in the vineyard indicates the position of the sun, and consequently the time.

Traben-Trarbach, art nouveau centre of the wine trade

The art nouveau town of Traben-Trarbach on the Middle Moselle is a true monument to the importance of the Moselle wine trade. Around 1900, this small Moselle town was the most important wine trading town after Bordeaux in France. Cellars were built under large parts of the town to provide sufficient storage space.

Calmont: vines grown in rock

Even on the Moselle , slopes do not get any steeper than this. The Calmont is the most precipitous vineyard in Europe with a gradient of up to 60 degrees. The cliff face between the Moselle villages of Bremm and Ediger-Eller is over 290 metres high. It was formed 400 million years ago in the Devonian period and consists of denuded slate, quartzite and greywacke rocks.

Schloss Johannisberg: birthplace of late vintage wine

The Schloss Johannisberg estate near Geisenheim in the Rheingau was the destination of the legendary messenger whose late arrival delayed the harvest and created the first spätlese wine. Wine has been made here since the year 817 AD and riesling has been the predominant grape for about 300 years, so the estate is a great reminder of how far riesling has spread. The vineyard is right on the 50th parallel of latitude, which is indicated by a marker among the vines.

Oestrich's historical wine-loading crane

The historical crane, part of the local wine heritage, is the signature attraction of Oestrich-Winkel, a wine town and cultural centre. This early example of technology used for loading and unloading wine from ships is housed in a dark-panelled building on the banks of the Rhine. For 350 years, Oestrich was the site of the Elector's central office and crane, so it was from here that barrels of Rheingau wine were shipped around the world.

Liebfrauenstift-Kirchenstück, Worms

Worms has been a wine-making town since the Romans came to the Rhine. In the Middle Ages, the 'Song of the Nibelungs' praised the good wine at the royal Burgundian court in Worms. In the centuries that followed, all of Worms' spiritual and secular leaders developed a liking for these wines, a taste that spread far beyond the region. Wines made from the grapes grown on the Liebfrauenstift-Kirchenstück estate are particularly well known.

Niersteiner Glöck: Germany's oldest vineyard site

The 'Glöck' is one of the most famous sites in the Roter Hang vineyard and it is also the oldest in Germany. A deed of gift dated 742 AD is proof of its age. The vineyard's name undoubtedly comes from the church and its bells (Glocke is German for bell) – but whether it refers to the chimes or whether the church bell ringer was paid in wine, nobody knows.

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