The Rheingau is one of the oldest and most famous, as well as one of the smallest, wine-growing regions in Germany. The 3,100 hectares under vines extend for roughly 30 km along the right bank of the Main and Rhine rivers from the villages of Hochheim in the east via famous tourist town Rüdesheim to Lorch in the west. This beautiful part of the world is above all home to the Rheingau Riesling, which grows on a vineyard area of 2,500 hectares (80% of the total area) and Pinot Noir, for which Assmannshausen is most famous. The Riesling grape flourishes particularly well on the dry, stony south-facing slopes. It can also withstand cold winter days and it uses the long ripening period to develop fine fruity acids and aromas. The Rheingau region consists mainly of deep, often chalky, soils, loess and gravel/shingle, with occasional sandstone deposits, that give the wines their character.
Traditionally innovative and high quality
It was the Romans who planted the first vineyards in the Rheingau before Charlemagne (747 – 814) began to actively promote viniculture. Quality and reputation have a long tradition in the region. Cistercian monks from Burgundy moved to the Rheingau in the 12th century and founded the famous monastery of Eberbach, which for centuries was the largest and most important wine estate in Central Europe. It was Benedictine monks, on the other hand, who were responsible for the region’s second famous winery, Schloss Johannisberg, which remains one of the world’s most famous wine estates to this day. The first pure varietal Riesling vineyard was planted in the Rheingau in the 18th century and the first officially recorded Spätlese was harvested in 1775. To this day, dry and fruit-driven Rheingau Riesling Spätlese late harvest wines as well as noble sweet wines are among the region’s most renowned products. For several years now, wines with vineyard classifications roughly equivalent to the French »Grand Cru«, known here as »Erstes Gewächs« (First Growth) – have documented the desire of the Rheingau winemakers to keep setting themselves new, ambitious goals and bottle some truly extraordinary wines. These wines originate from classified »first locations« and are produced and vinified in accordance with very strict and demanding criteria.
Pure joie de vivre
The Rheingau, located near Frankfurt, is also a very popular tourist region in which old monasteries and castles are impressively embedded into the vineyard landscape. Extending over a distance of 120 kilometres, the Rheingau Riesling Route winds its way through picturesque wine villages, such as Hochheim, Walluf, Eltville, Hattenheim, Oestrich-Winkel, Rüdesheim, Assmannshausen and Lorch. Along the way, simple wine taverns and inns invite you to stop and enjoy a drop of Rheingau wine, while there are also many cultural and historical sights to discover. Many Rheingau wine estates and restaurants offer top-class culinary wine experiences all year round. Another unique experience is the traditional wine auctions at Eberbach Monastery. On a journey with Prince Consort Albert von Sachsen-Coburg-Gotha in1850, Her Majesty Queen Victoria (1819 – 1901) was so enchanted by the Rheingau and its wines that a vineyard was named after her and she spend many vacations in the region.