The Middle Rhine wine-growing area extends over approximately 120 kilometres - from Bingen to Bonn - along the course of the Rhine. With vines growing on steep, terraced slopes, a host of lovingly restored mediaeval wine villages and the world-famous Loreley rock, the Middle Rhine is an area rich in history and a cultural landscape unique in the world. In 2002 UNESCO conferred world heritage status on its southern section.
The Middle Rhine is one of the smallest wine-growing areas of Germany with only about440 hectares (of which 68% is devoted to Riesling), but no other region matches it for its proportion of steeply inclined growing slopes (over 85%).
Vine cultivation was brought to the Middle Rhine by the Romans; their use of dry stone walls created the terracing typical of the vineyards here. Without these terraced vineyards, much of the area could hardly be cultivated. The terraces moderate the inclines and prevent excessive runoff from the slopes during storms and heavy rain. Nevertheless, many slopes are inclined by as much as 70% and it is therefore impossible to harvest the grapes with machinery; grape picking here is still done by hand. Knowing how much work has gone into the wine makes one appreciate it all the more.
The mineral-rich slate soils and favourable climate offer ideal growing conditions for the Riesling grape. Variety is however provided by other white wine grapes including Müller-Thurgau, Kerner, Grauburgunder and Weißburgunder. The red-wine grapes are principally Spätburgunder, Dornfelder and Portugieser.