I have often traveled along the Mosel River by train. Last weekend I decided to abolish the train and drive by car from Kobern-Gondorf to Trier. Unfortunately, the sun did not shine. But despite this handicap it was one of the most marvelous trips I have recently made.
The Mosel River valley was buzzing with visitors and tourists. Groups of cyclists, tour buses, camper vans as well as people on foot, motorcyclists and others were cruising along the river and swarming the small towns and villages. Almost every settlement advertised its ongoing or imminent wine festival and vintners’ fair. Everywhere one could buy wines, have a meal or stay overnight. Vintage was in full swing in many places and the young fermented grape juice, in German called “Federweisser” was everywhere on offer.
Barges and a ferry on the river and a castle in the background
Steep slopes and a narrow valley, vines on “Graywacke” slate plates
The appelation of the wine region “Mosel-Saar-Ruwer” is the result of the Wine Act of 1909. From 1936 onwards wine labels could show this designation. In 2006 the German Parliament passed a new law abolishing “Mosel-Saar-Ruwer” and simply replacing it with “Mosel” and since August 1st, 2007 the region is officially called “Mosel” only.
The region consists of six sub-regions with 19 locations (Grosslagen) and 524 individual locations (Einzellagen). 5,500 wineries and vineyards are spread over 125 settlements, villages and towns. The total area under vines is about 9,000 ha, which produce annually about 850,000 hectoliters of wine (including 75,000 hectoliters of red wine). The largest wine producing acreages can be found in the settlements of Piesport, Zell (Mosel), Leiwen, Konz, Neumagen-Drohn, Mehring, Bernkastel-Kues and Trittenheim. I passed through some very famous vineyard locations such as “Bremmer Calmont”, “Wehlener Sonnenuhr”, “Erdener Treppchen”, “Ürziger Würzgarten”, “Piesporter Goldtröpfchen”, “Bernkasteler Doctor” and many others.
The elevator “sledge”
The “rail” for the “elevator”
The region has the largest extent of vineyards on steep slopes (inclinations range from 30% till 60%) in Germany. The Mosel region is also the biggest Riesling producer in the world (with about 5.000 ha acreage). Recently some of the more extreme locations have fallen fallow. Traditionally vines were planted on the steep slopes using single posts. In recent times they have been gradually replaced by modern trellis systems. For transport purposes, elevator systems were installed in some locations, as shown on the photos below. I was very surprised to find a lot of red grapes planted in the flat lands near the river. Most of them are Pinot Noir and Dornfelder grapes. There is an increasing trend to extend the acreage for red varieties and the Mosel has once again become a superb producer of red wines, especially Pinot Noir.