Perhaps the most intriguing and picturesque landscape in all of Germany’s wine country lies along the peaceful banks of the Mosel (which used to be listed as Mosel-Saar-Ruwer on labels until recently). The Mosel River stretches from its spring in the French Vosges along the Luxemburg border for almost 320 miles northeast, where it finally empties into the Rhine near the quaint town of Koblenz. The Saar and the Ruwer serve as its two tributaries along the way and are part of the overall Mosel wine region.
Arguably Germany’s best known wine producing region and revered as one of the best in the world, thin topsoil over slate and shale force the vine roots deep in their search for nutrients, producing wines with high minerality. The best vineyards tend to be extremely steep sites that face south along the Mosel banks and that have to be painstakingly harvested by hand, sometimes even using ropes.
The Mosel is almost exclusively a white wine region and Riesling makes up more than 50% of the total volume produced. In a land where Riesling reins supreme, the Mosel Riesling is the essence of Riesling. Probably the most complex and interesting wine growing region in the world, the sheer quality of the terroir is extraordinary, matched perfectly for the Riesling grape.
Phylloxera has difficulty surviving in the slate soils of the region, allowing the vines to reach incredible age. Many of the original, ungrafted rootstocks, along with reduced yields, promote an amazing concentration and complexity of flavor that is distinct to the Mosel.
While wine production has existed here for centuries, the cultivation and harvest has always remained problematic. The mechanization that has made the lives of vintners in other areas so much easier has proved difficult or impossible to apply to many of the Mosel's steep slopes. Wine production here is a tough, backbreaking job and in that way, little has changed in the last 2000 years. From pruning and weeding to the harvest itself, most of the work is still done by hand.
The Mosel is riddled with historic towns from Trier to Koblenz and provides for a most scenic journey and unique travel opportunity. With over 75 historic towns along the amazing 320-mile journey, there is something for everyone. Known as Europe’s oldest independent cultural landscape, it is an incredible sight to be seen!
Divided into three sections, the upper, middle and lower Mosel, the adorable towns along its banks have been settled for thousands of years, dating back to the Stone Age (4000 - 3000 BC). Traces of an early settlement and other artifacts have been found near the town of Bernkastel-Kues, making it one of the first Mosel settlements.
Earliest recorded history is from the Celts around 500 BC, when the first high culture was developed. Romans settled in the area around 100 BC and realized the potential of the local terroir for viticulture. In 15 BC, they founded the city of Trier between today's upper and middle Mosel, where a multitude of Roman ruins still bear witness to the city's past. At the bottom of the Goldtröpfchen vineyard in Piesport, locals excavated a Roman wine press that dates back to 400 AD. Its large capacity makes it the largest wine press ever found north of the Alps.
In the early Middle Ages, the Franks appeared and established impressive monasteries that began to spread Christianity while maintaining local wine growing traditions. This was the heyday of Romanesque architecture and many notable castles and cultural highlights were constructed during this period. The end of the Thirty Years’ War and the French occupation marked the beginnings of today’s modern viticulture and tourism. French Emperor Napoleon also introduced a law that still has a negative impact on modern viticulture in the Mosel today. To prevent large scale land ownership, Napoleon required land to be equally distributed among heirs, leading to the many individually owned tiny parcels of land that still exist in the Mosel today.
The opportunity to experience the Mosel first hand is awe-inspiring. Sitting along the beautiful banks of the Mosel, indulging on the fruits of the land, drinking the crisp and delicious Riesling full of minerals and acidity is heaven on earth. Match that with the talents of amazing vintners and famed vineyard sites such as Piesporter Goldtröpfchen, Brauneberger Juffer or Trittenheimer Apotheke and you will truly taste a quality that belongs to only one Riesling, the Mosel Riesling.