Germany's largest wine-growing region, Rheinhessen is a welcoming and hospitable region on the Rhine. Everyone is amazed by what is being achieved in the triangular region between Mainz, Worms and Bingen, where a group of young vintners with great enthusiasm for wine, self-confidence, incredible dynamism and a great feel for fine wines is at work. Buzzing networks such as 'Message in a bottle' or associations such as 'Grosses Gewächs Rheinhessen', 'Selection Rheinhessen', 'Ecovin' and 'Wein vom Roten Hang' provide innovation, while Mainz and Rheinhessen represent Germany in the Great Wine Capitals international club.
Rheinhessen is the largest wine-producing region in Germany with 26,300 hectares under vine. Around two thirds of this area is used for white wine varieties. Rieslings from the Rhine and Rheinhessen hills have been causing a sensation around the world. People are also showing an increased interest in silvaner wines, and pinot wines are quickly catching up too.
The area used for producing red wine has doubled in size over the last ten years. Dornfelder is the no. 1 variety. And red wine stars such as pinot noir or discoveries such as portugieser are producing some really great wines.
After a red wine boom, more emphasis is now being placed on the classic whites.
The soil of the region's vineyards has plenty of fascinating tales to tell. It helps us to understand the authenticity of wines which are so strongly defined by the place in which the grapes were grown, and to explain their individuality.
The combination of soil type, location, wine-growing expertise and wine is fascinating. The geological history of the soil beneath the Rheinhessen vineyards tells powerful stories of desert sands, rain forest, layers of lava, lime nodules and loess concretions. These substances give each wine from around the region its own distinctive taste, which means there is a Rheinhessen wine for every occasion.
Rheinhessen offers the ideal conditions for grapevines to flourish. In particular, they need plenty of sun, and they certainly get that here with 1,700 hours of sunshine a year. With an average annual temperature of 11°C, this is one of the warmest regions in Germany. And with just 510mm of rainfall per annum, Rheinhessen is also one of the country's driest areas. So you can happily leave your umbrella at home. With such low rainfall, Rheinhessen provides the perfect environment for eco-friendly wine growing. Nowhere else in Germany has as many eco-growers working in the vineyards.
Rheinhessen has approximately 3,800 wineries. Around 80 per cent of the wine produced here is sold to the supermarkets by the producers. Approx. 20 per cent is sold by winegrowers directly. Rheinhessen is a big wine exporter and sells approx. 30 per cent of the wine it produces to international markets.
The region's leading vineyards include Scharlachberg (Bingen), Rothenberg (Nackenheim), Pettenthal, Ölberg, Hipping, Glöck (Nierstein), Sackträger (Oppenheim), Liebfrauenstift-Kirchenstück (Worms), Hubacker (Flörsheim-Dalsheim), Morstein (Westhofen), Feuerberg (Flomborn) and Heerkretz (Siefersheim).
The Rhine is steeped in myth and legend. There are tales of heroes and dragons and of sunken treasure. True or not – who can really say?