Franconia, located in the north west of the German federal state of Bavaria, is one of the 13 German wine-growing regions. It is the only official wine region in Bavaria and is mostly located around the capital Würzburg along the Main River in Lower Franconia.
Winemaking in Franconia dates back nearly 1,000 years, and there is a record of the great emperor Charlemagne mentioning the wines of Franconia. This wine region, which extends from Bamberg to Aschaffenburg, is known for its relatively mild climate. Officially, the climate is continental with a Mediterranean influence. Winters can be cold, so most grapes are grown along the hills of the River Main, where they can be protected.
The most popular grape varietals in Franconia include Müller-Thurgau (27.7%), Silvaner (23.1%), Bacchus (11.9%), Domina (5.5%) and Riesling (5.3%). Of these grape varietals, Domina is the only red grape varietal. Franconian wines can differ greatly in how long they can be kept. The most basic wines, designed to be consumed within a year or two, are known as Kabinett. However, some of the full-bodied, dry Spatlesen (“late harvest”) wines can mature up to 10 years.
There are several unique characteristics of Franconia wines that may be unfamiliar even to European wine drinkers. One is the term “Franconia dry,” which is a classification unique to the wines of Franconia, which have a lower sugar level than traditional trocken (“dry”) wines. Another is the unique bottle shape known as Bocksbeutel (rounded and then flattened), which is also unique to the best wines of Franconia.
Given the long history of winemaking in Franconia, it’s perhaps no surprise that wine plays an important role in popular culture. In addition to the traditional Oktoberfest, for example, Franconia celebrates a Weinfest, where participants drink wine instead of beer.
Here is a brief audio guide on Franconia wine region. Check it out.