The growing region is located in Rhineland-Palatinate in Germany and is named after the region. The name is derived from the historical affiliation as the province of Rheinhessen of the Grand Duchy of Hesse, which existed from 1816 to 1919. The vineyards cover 26,758 hectares, making it the largest German wine-growing region in terms of area. The vineyards are located on the left bank of the Rhine knee between Bingen, Mainz and Worms in the form of a huge triangle. Many finds attest to ancient viticulture, such as a Roman water pipe in Ingelheim. In Nierstein, the oldest vineyard in Germany, the Glöck site, was mentioned in a document in 742. Emperor Charlemagne (742-814) had a palace there and, according to legend, discovered the excellent suitability for vineyards on a Rhine journey. He promoted viticulture here by clearing forests in the Rhine plain and planting vineyards instead. The Riesling (Rissling) was first mentioned here in 1546 by the botanist Hieronymus Bock (1498-1554).
Climate and soil
Due to the hilly character of the landscape, Rheinhessen is also known as the "Land of 1,000 Hills". The soils consist mainly of loess, as well as sand, marl, limestone, clay, Rotliegend, brown earth, quartzite and porphyry. The climatic conditions for viticulture are optimal. Under the protection of the Odenwald and Taunus mountains, there are mild average temperatures between 9.4 (Alzey) and 10.4 °Celsius (Worms). With 1,600 hours of sunshine per year, this low rainfall region with warm summers and mild winters is one of the warmest German growing regions as well as one of the driest areas in Central Europe. Except in the southwest, annual precipitation averages only 550 millimeters. However, the loess cover, which is up to 15 meters deep in many areas, as well as the marl and clay soils prevent drought damage due to a good water balance.
Areas, communities and locations
The vineyards on the banks of the Rhine are often referred to as the Rhine Front. Of the 136 municipalities, 120 end in "heim" and only four do not practice viticulture in their own boundaries. Rheinhessen is divided into three areas, Bingen, Nierstein and Wonnegau, with a total of 24 large vineyards and 434 individual vineyards. The area in the northwest, named after the town of Bingen is divided into the six large vineyards Abtey, Adelberg, Kaiserpfalz, Kurfürstenstück, Rheingrafenstein and Sankt Rochuskapelle. Well-known wine-growing villages with their individual vineyards are:
The area to the northeast Nierstein reaches as far as the Roman city of Mainz, which was founded as early as 38 BC. The centre is the so-called Rhine front from Nackenheim to Schwabsburg. Here, the most impressive and best steep slopes of Rheinhessen with the red slate soils (Rotliegend), which give the area its name, extend along the famous Rote Hang (red slope ). The Nierstein area is divided into 11 large vineyards: Auflangen, Domherr, Gutes Domtal, Güldenmorgen, Krötenbrunnen, Petersberg, Rehbach, Rheinblick, Sankt Alban, Spiegelberg and Vogelsgärten. Well-known wine-growing villages with their individual vineyards are:
The Wonnegau area, located in the south around the Luther city of Worms, is one of the warmest and driest regions in Germany. Calcareous, often heavy clay soils predominate. The area is divided into seven major vineyards: Bergkloster, Burg Rodenstein, Domblick, Gotteshilfe, Liebfrauenmorgen, Pilgerpfad and Sybillenstein. Well-known wine-growing villages with their individual vineyards are:
From the beginning of the 1960s, many new varieties were cultivated, especially in Rheinhessen, reaching a share of 40% by 1980. However, this development has declined again in favour of the classic grape varieties. Müller-Thurgau (the variety of the famous Liebfrauenmilch), which had been in the lead for a long time, was overtaken by Riesling, whose stock has increased by 22% in the last ten years. As in the other growing regions, there was a trend towards Burgundy varieties. Besides Riesling, the big climbers were Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. The 2018 status (0 = smaller than 0.5 ha):