The production area is located in the federal state of Rhineland-Palatinate in Germany. The vineyards cover 23,554 hectares, making it the second largest German wine-growing region after Rheinhessen. Until 1995 it was called Rheinpfalz, the current name (lat. Palatium = palace) derives from the Palatines of the Holy Roman Empire, who resided in the city of Heidelberg from the 13th to the middle of the 18th century. The first evidence of viticulture can be found in Celtic graves as early as 550 BC, long before the Romans, in Laumersheim and Bad Dürkheim. After the retreat of the Romans from this area, viticulture was revived in the 7th century with the advent of the monasteries. In the 8th century more than a hundred wine-growing villages are already mentioned. In the 12th and 13th century the first vineyard names appeared in this area, some of which have been preserved in the individual vineyard names until today.
Due to the Thirty Years' War (1618-1648) and subsequent warlike events caused by the Reformation and Counter-Reformation, there was great devastation and a decline in viticulture. Around the middle of the 19th century, there was a new flourishing at first, but due to mildew and phylloxera, there was a big slump again by the end of the century. As a countermeasure, a fruit and wine growing school was founded in Neustadt an der Weinstrasse in 1899 to advance research and systematically train the winegrowers. After an eventful history, a crisis occurred in the 1970s, from which the Palatinate recovered in the 1980s and innovative winegrowers ensured dynamic further development, especially with high-quality Rieslings. The Palatinate extends south of Worms in a belt-shaped 80 kilometre long belt to the French border north of Alsace and from the slopes of the Palatinate Forest to the Rhine plain.
Climate and soil
The climatic conditions are ideal for wine growing. There are dry, not too hot summers and mild winters. With around 1,800 hours of sunshine per year, the Palatinate is one of the warmest German winegrowing regions with an almost Mediterranean climate. The soils along the Haardt consist entirely of mixtures of sand, loam, marl and clay. The soils along the Southern Wine Route are considered richer in nutrients and therefore heavier because of their higher clay content. In the Mittelhaardt-Deutsche Weinstrasse area, there are lighter soils that are more permeable to water. Calcareous soils dominate in the peripheral hilly areas.
Areas, communities and locations
Viniculture is practised in a total of 144 Palatinate villages, mainly in Southern and Anterior Palatinate on the western edge of the plain between the Rhine and the Palatinate Forest. Originally, the wine-growing area was divided into three parts and was divided from south to north into Ober-, Mittel- and Unterhaardt. In 1935 the German Wine Route was created as the first of its kind. It runs from Bockenheim in the north to Schweigen-Rechtenbach on the French border. Since 1969, the two Palatinate areas Mittelhaardt-Deutsche Weinstrasse and Südliche Weinstrasse, which are divided into a total of 25 large vineyards with 325 individual sites, have also been named after it.
The Mittelhaardt-Deutsche Weinstrasse area begins in the north at the border to Rheinhessen and extends through Zellertal, Grünstadt and Bad Dürkheim to Neustadt an der Weinstrasse. Here, light and permeable loamy sandy to sandy loamy soils predominate. Deep loess soils are mainly found on the hills and in the plains, where they are interspersed with loam and clay. The area is divided into the 16 major sites Feuerberg, Grafenstück, Hochmeß, Hofstück, Höllenpfad, Honigsäckel, Kobnert, Mariengarten, Meerspinne, Pfaffengrund, Rebstöckel, Rosenbühl, Schenkenböhl, Schnepfenflug from the Wine Route, Schnepfenflug from the Zellertal and Schwarzerde. Well-known wine-growing communities with their individual sites are:
Weisenheim am Sand: Altenberg, Burgweg, Goldberg, Hahnenberg, Halde, Hasenzeile
Zell: Klosterstück, Königsweg, Kreuzberg, Black Lord
The Southern Wine Route area lies within the district of the same name and extends from the Alsatian border in the south (some areas near Weißenburg are even on French territory) to the southern edge of Neustadt/Weinstrasse. Here mainly loess and clay soils predominate. The area is divided into the nine major sites Bischofskreuz, Guttenberg, Herrlich, Liebfrauenberg Monastery, Königsgarten, Mandelhöhe, Ordensgut, Ludwigshöhe Castle and Trappenberg. Well-known wine-growing communities with their individual sites are
The undisputed leader is still the Riesling with a quarter of the vineyard area. As in the other growing regions, the proportion of Burgundy varieties has risen sharply; the biggest climbers are Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. The status 2018 (0 = less than 0.5 ha):