Iconic German Vineyards: A guide to some of Germany’s great vineyard sites

Largely centered in the southwest of the country, Germany’s 13 wine growing regions represent a diversity of terroir along the northern limits of wine growing. Yet within Germany, there are certain vineyards that are simply legendary. The wines produced there are iconic expressions of geological and human histories. They smell, taste and feel unlike wines from anywhere else.

Identified over centuries of human trial and error, these great vineyards represent the perfect convergence of conditions – climate, soil, sun exposure and topography – ideal for each particular grape variety. This hyper specificity of terroir is key to overcoming challenges of cool-climate viticulture and producing wines of greatness, vintage after vintage.

Rotenfels, Nahe

Overview: Germany’s highest scarp face north of the Alps, the Rotenfels rises over 1,000 feet above the Nahe River between the villages of Norheim and Bad Münster am Stein-Ebernburg.

History: Born from a volcanic eruption 270 to 260 million years ago, the Rotenfels was cut from centuries of weathering and erosion by the Nahe River.

Distinctions: Riesling grows exclusively upon this precipice of red volcanic stone. The south facing cliffs form a canyon that retains heat and bathes vines in sunlight, while protecting them from cold winds. This warm, dry microclimate yields early-ripening vines and plump, fruity wines with complexities of spice and smoke.