The wine culture

of Germany

german wine culture on the Moselle
Wild vines were already widespread in the Moselle region in the Neolithic Age, i.e. with the beginning of sedentariness about 13,000 years ago. And our Celtic ancestors from the middle of the first millennium B.C., are known to have had enjoyed wine - It was so popular that even slaves were paid in wine sometumes. In 1977, archaeologists found vineyards on slopes and steep slopes in the 1st century in the region around Trier . Shortly afterwards, they found further vineyards from the time of the Roman Empire in the Palatinate near Bad Dürkheim and Wachenheim.
Findings of the first  wine press in Ungstein
They, however, found the most important evidence of Roman viticulture in southern Germany in old Roman vineyard in Weilberg and Ungstein. They were used about 400 AD. Further tools and elements were found such as grape treads and a must collection basin, which proof their hypothesis. The grape seeds found in a lead vat than indicated that wine was made from both wild vines and varieties comparable to Riesling or Traminer.
Other important relics of the Roman wine culture are bottles in their graveyards - particularly impressive are those found in Speyer, which date back to 300 AD and in fact still contained liquid wine.
Cultivation in Speyer
Vineyards near Moselle
The civil servant Ausonius praised the graceful, fertile river landscape and the viticulture in the Moselle valley in the year 371 A.D. And two centuries later, the poet Venantius Fortunatus described the vineyards on the Moselle and Rhine in full detail.
In the year 628 the Franconian king Dagobert I gave the Lobdengau with the city of Ladenburg to the diocese Worms. The document of this foundation also mentions vineyards in this area proving the viticulture on the right bank of the Rhine. The history of wine-growing in the Ahr valley can be traced back to the second half of the 8th century. The cultivation in the 70 Palatinate villages were also documented in the year 900.
Cultivation in the Ahrtal
Franconian king Charlemagne
Charlemagne (Franconian king from 768 to 814) issued a country estate decree in 812 according to which wine was to be stored in barrels and not in tubes. So that the grapes won't be be juiced with their feet „since it it is not as clean“. Up to this day, wineries were granted the right to serve their own wine, as is customary in the so-called "Strauß-, Besen- oder Heckenwirtschaften" - however, nothing actually written can be found in the policy of the first German emperor. Thanks to Charlemagne's intensive dedication to Christianity, German viticulture gained momentum in the long term. Many of the modern vineyards date back to a founding of a monasteries around that time. Their monks produced wine extremely successfully for many centuries, which was often the monastic main source of income - good connections to these monks were quite beneficial!
From the 9th to the 14th century the climate in our latitudes was comparatively mild. Population increased strongly due to these more favourable living conditions the and the viticulture flourished in whole Europe . Large vineyards were often planted close to towns in order to supply the regional market - the demand increased immensely. The positive aspects of wine is its alcohol content, which protects it significantly from unlike water. .
Cultivation in Europe
Cultivation in Germany
It went so far that Upper Swabia and the heavily wooded North Franconia were cleared in roder to plant vines. Furthermore, winegrowing was documented in the Lower Rhine, in the Lahn Valley, on the edge of the Taunus, in the Sauerland, on the Ruhr and south of Münster. At that time the vineyard area reached the largest extent of the German wine-growing history.
The created vineyards even in climatically unfavourable areas such as the the Doberan Monastery near Rostock, Aller and Weser in Lower Saxony, and in the east from Königsberg to Silesia. The quality of the wines were not really praised but enough for liturgy. The entire vineyard area of Germany covered more than 300,000 hectares, which is three times as large as today. Not to forget that Alsace was part of it at that time..
Cultivation at monastery Doberan
The strong expansion increased the competition of substantial French and Italian wines, which had even better quality. This resulted in an oversupply, which caused the prices to fall. Peasant revolts, a deterioration of the climate and devastating wars finally led to the abandonment of many vineyards in the 16th and 17th centuries. The demand of grain for bread and beer increased: in many areas of Germany, agriculture became more attractive than viticulture.
The supply of food became priority with the philosophy "Where the plough can go, there should be no vine". Despite this, large areas of viticulture continued to be cultivated, especially in the Palatinate. The respective rulers of the respective countries determined desired and undesired grape varieties. They paid attention to the harvest - after all, the amount harvested resulted in the tithe. In order to prevent pre-harvesting, the vineyards were closed after the grapes started ripening.
Cultivation in the Palatinate
Hambacher Fest
At the end of the 18th century, the French Republic annexed the left bank of the Rhine of the German Empire. The large wineries were nationalized, divided and auctioned - mostly to the previous tenants. But the change from a manorially prescribed cultivation and marketing to independent cultivation and trade made the small and large winegrowers fight for their existence, viticulture and cellar technology stagnated. The emergency motivated the winegrowers to their participation in the "Hambach Festival" in 1832.
A special invention was made in the middle of the 19th century: The government official Ludwig Gall, responsible for domain affairs, wanted to alleviate the misery of the Moselle winegrowers. Several bad harvests, especially in 1850, led many wineries to give up viticulture. Gall developed a method of "wet improvement" (later also called wet sugaring): adding water to the wine reduces the acidity while sugar replaced the lack of sun. According to Gall, it was simply an ideal procedure to "produce a very good middle wine even if the grapes are unripe".
Ludwig Gall
Ludwig Gall
Wine lovers were shocked and banned this procedure in 1971. Gall would have been surprised, since he didn't see a falsification of the wine in his „improvement", which he considered to be an artificial product anyway. At the time, Gall was celebrated as the saviour of viticulture in that region.His method, however, ruined the reputation of Moselle wine, which had long been regarded as an inferior cheap product. But there were also "good" developments in viticulture! Christian Ferdinand Oechsle, for example, invented his Oechsle-Balance in the 1820s, which is still the most important winemaking tool for determining the sugar content of the must.
Gustav Adolf Froelich (1847-1912), economist and owner of a winery, was a true pioneer of winegrowing. He was one of the first to use sulphur to combat powdery mildew in his vineyards. He experimented with "Bordeaux broth", a mixture of copper sulphate, lime and water, which is still permitted in organic viticulture. Froelich, however, earned special merits in 1876 with the justification of cloning and breeding of vines in Germany. In 1925, his Silvaner breeding was registered as the first grape variety in the DLG's breeding register. Gustav Adolf Froelich also created the new Dyer breed Dunkelfelder.
Mildew tau & Gustav Adolf Froelich
German viticulture suffered a severe collapse with the invasion of phylloxera. Introduced from the USA at the beginning of the 1860s, this beast first made its way over the vineyards of France and destroyed over 75% of them. A decade later, the perfidious pest had arrived in Germany, leaving its devastating mark here as well.
The method of grafting was finally developed in France, at the beginning of the 20th century, as the only effective countermeasure: the grafting the upper parts of European grape varieties onto American rootstock vines in order to user their resistances to phylloxera. However, Germany made grafted vines only mandatory after the Second World War. We developed a separate chapter dedicated to phylloxera and grafting which you can find under the following LINK
Grafting of vines
Wine law of Germany
In the year 1892 the first German wine law was enacted, which - with one or the other change or amendment. These laws are still active today. IIt regulates the cultivation, the production, the marketing and the sales of wine. Originally it was prohibited to market artificial wine. And by the end of 2005 these wines (mostly from California, Australia and New Zealand) were not allowed to be traded. However, this regulation was incompatible with the EU law, since the wine trade agreement came into force on 1st of January 2006 and the EU permitts the production and sale of these artificial wines.
Finally, let's take a look at our 13 German wine-growing regions. There us Rheinhessen with 26.560 ha, Pfalz with 23.600 ha, Baden with 15.820 ha, Württemberg with 11.345 ha, Mosel with 8.800 ha, Franken with 6.125 ha, Nahe with 4.200 ha, Rheingau with 3.170 ha, Saale-Unstrut with 770 ha, Ahr with 565 ha, Sachsen with 500 ha, Mittelrhein with 470 ha as well as Hessische Bergstraße with 450 ha. A total of 102,400 hectares of vineyards are cultivated in Germany.
Wine growing regions of Germany
Production of german wineries
The yield is very high: on average 9.2 million hl are produced per year, two thirds of which are white wines.The production of local wine is 2.1%, quality wine 74.9% and Prädikatswein 23%. With a vineyard area of 5,334 hectares, Germany is the largest Weißburgunder (Pinbot Blanc) producer in the world; the same applies to the cultivation of Riesling on 23,809 hectares.
Germany ranks fourth among the largest wine exporters in Europe and eighth worldwide right after France, Italy and Spain. Around 1 million hectolitres are exported to over 100 countries, which is about 11% of annual production. The main customers are the USA, the Netherlands, Great Britain, Poland and China. After a sustained downward trend for German wine exports, volume and value have each risen by around 7% since 2017. The average price for quality wines (export share 71%) is 3.32 euros per litre.
Wine Cellar & Barriques
Dieser Text wurde von Charlotte Münch recherchiert und verfasst. © Copyright & Nutzungsrechte aller Texte von weinstore24 liegen bei