Wine was grown here as long ago as the Roman occupation period. At the end of the 18th century Clemens Wenceslaus, the Elector of Trier, decreed that no grape variety other than Riesling could be grown on the Moselle. The almost total restriction to this grape variety, which produces unique, inimitable wines in this growing region, is what gave it an almost legendary reputation extending into the middle of the last century.
This winegrowing region extends over 238 kilometres of river, on both sides of the Moselle and on the banks of its two tributaries, the Saar and the Ruwer. It is divided into six areas: Bernkastel (formerly Lower Moselle), Ruwer Valley and Saar (formerly Saar-Ruwer), Cochem Castle (formerly Zell), Moseltor (in the Saarland) and Upper Moselle.
The Moselle reflects sunlight, while the slate on the steep slopes retains warmth until late at night.
Meagre slate soils on very steep slopes
Almost exclusively white wine (about 91%): fruity, acidic Riesling, delicately perfumed. Excellent high-quality wines in good years, mostly with a delicate sweetness.
58% Riesling, 15% Müller-Thurgau, 6% Elbling, 5% Kerner, Pinot gris (Ruländer) and other varieties. Reds: Pinot noir and others.
About 5,000 winegrowing enterprises, mainly fairly small family businesses. Some deliver their grapes to large central wineries.
Vineyard area and production volume
About 9,000 hectares, some 1.3 million hectolitres per year.