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.
Marienthal Abbey: wine in ancient ruins

This former Augustinian convent near Dernau was once the oldest abbey on the Ahr river. Marienthal Abbey was established in 1137 and the nuns certainly had a hard life. The convent's records speak of legal disputes and troubles with neighbouring communities, and the nearby river was prone to flooding.

Max Müller I wine estate: new and classic Franconian wines

"We are open to new ideas and yet loyal to our roots," say Monika and Rainer Müller from the Max Müller I wine estate in the Franconian town of Volkach. This philosophy is clearly reflected in their wines – the uncomplicated, fresh wines of the New Franconia range and the traditional Classic Franconia collection in the signature Bocksbeutel bottles.

Mayschoss-Altenahr: home of the first wine cooperative

The very first winegrowers' cooperative was established in Mayschoss on the Ahr river. Eighteen vintners got together on 20 December 1869 to set up the first wine cooperative in the history of viticulture. Today, it has 320 members who grow grapes in an area of 121 hectares. Sixty per cent of the land is planted with pinot noir and forms part of the Ahr red wine region , while 20 per cent is planted with riesling vines.

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.

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.

Pfedelbach: royal barrel and Herrschaftskeller press

Wine presses are at every turn in this region: there were once eight between Öhringen and Pfedelbach. They had names such as the priest's press, the bird's press and the juniper press. Although most have vanished and their pressing stones are all that is left, a walking trail links their former locations.

Piesport wine press: where the Romans trod grapes

The biggest Roman wine press north of the Alps, where the Romans trod the grapes to make Moselle wines, was discovered in 1985 during a vineyard restructuring scheme. The fourth century site, which measures 44 by 20 metres, came to light at the foot of the famously steep Piesporter Goldtröpfchen vineyard.

Reichenau Island: Germany's southernmost wine area

Reichenau Island in Lake Constance is the most southerly wine-making location in Germany, although today it is better known for its vegetables. Viticulture was the economic mainstay of the island's farmers for centuries. The first vines were planted in 818 AD by Hanno I, the abbot of Reichenau monastery. The waters of Lake Constance retain warmth which radiates out to the vineyards, particularly in autumn and winter.

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.

Roman wine in Speyer: the oldest liquid wine

It is the oldest wine made from grapes in the world, and it is still liquid. The Historical Museum of the Palatinate in Speyer houses one of Germany's greatest viticultural treasures: a wine from the year 325 AD. It is bottled in a greenish-yellow, cylindrical glass flask set with two handles in the shape of dolphins.

Rotkäppchen sekt winery: fairytale wine

Named after the red seal on its bottles, Rotkäppchen (Little Red Riding Hood) is one of Germany's most famous brands. Brothers Moritz and Julius Kloss with their friend Carl Foerster jointly founded Kloss & Foerster wine merchants in Freyburg an der Unstrut on 26 September 1856. The first corks popped on 17 June 1858.

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.

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