The tiny region of Hessische Bergstrasse takes its name from an old Roman trade route known as the strata montana, or mountain road.
It is a scenic landscape of vines and orchards scattered on hilly slopes famous for its colorful and fragrant springtime blossoms, the earliest in Germany. The wines tend to be fragrant and rich, with more body and an acidity and finesse similar to those of the Rheingau.
Major Towns: Bensheim, Heppenheim
Collective Sites: 3
Individual Sites: 22
Vineyard Area: 462
– Optimal solar radiation
– Sufficient rainfall
– The Rhine, Main, and Neckar rivers act as heat reservoirs, contributing to a climate perfect for cultivating grapes
The soils are varied, ranging (north to south) from porphyry-quartz to weathered granite to sand and loess-loam.
Top soil types:
Southeast of Frankfurt, the heart of Hessische Bergstrasse (one of the smallest wine-growing regions of Germany) runs parallel to the Rhine in the foothills of the protective Oden Forest, nestled between the Main and Neckar rivers.
With over 23,000 hectares, Germany is home of the world’s largest vineyard area dedicated to Riesling. Riesling is predestined for northerly wine-growing regions and grows in all 13 German regions. Depending on type of soil and microclimate, it yields grapes that produce wines with extremely diverse nuances. They range from bone dry to lusciously sweet and from everyday wines to rare, high-quality collectibles. A “typical” Riesling is reminiscent of peach or apple on the nose, and has pronounced acidity. It is fantastic for food pairing and sparkling wine production.
Known for their approachable, light and refreshing taste, Müller-Thurgau wines make for easy, everyday drinking. Bred in 1882 by Professor Hermann Müller (1850-1927) from the Swiss canton Thurgau, this namesake wine now accounts for about 12% of Germany’s vineyard area and is grown in all 13 German wine-growing regions. The wines have a light Muscat tone, usually mild acidity, and sometimes, a flowery bouquet.
If Germany’s finest white wines are produced from Riesling, its red wine counterpart is Spätburgunder, which reaches top form in German sites. Germany ranks third worldwide in area devoted to Pinot Noir, after France and the USA, with almost 12% of the vineyard areas planted with the grape. Ranging from ruby to garnet red, Pinot Noir wines are slightly tannic, mild in acidity, and have a long finish with aromas reminiscent of blackberry and cherry.
Although it is a mutation of Pinot Noir and has pinkish skin, Grauburgunder is a white wine grape. It produces pale to golden yellow wines reminiscent of mango, nuts, almonds, and quince. It is vinified in stainless steel or oak, and typically denotes a dry, medium-bodied wine with fairly lively acidity. Germany now ranks third worldwide in terms of vineyard area devoted to Pinot Gris.
Subtle in aroma and mild in acidity, hearty, fairly neutral Silvaner is an excellent food pairing wine. The wines are sometimes earthy and powerful, and are prized for being juicy and mouth-filling. The widespread cultivation of Silvaner dates from the early 19th century, and it was once the most important grape variety in Germany. It has long been a traditional variety in Rheinhessen and Franken.