Rheingau is one of the 13 German wine-growing regions, notable primarily for its superior Riesling wines. Overall, Rheingau is the German wine-growing region that has the highest proportion of Riesling production (78.8%) as a percentage of all wine produced. Other wines play only a minimal role in the region’s wine culture, including Spatburgunder (12.2%) and Müller-Thurgau (1.6%).
In addition to being such a prominent Riesling producer, Rheingau is also known for being the birthplace of many German winemaking traditions and innovations. It is the home to famous winemakers such as Schloss Johannisberg, as well as the original site where the German form of the “noble rot” was discovered.
In terms of total area, Rheingau extends for a 50-kilometer stretch along the Rhine River. The region is officially located in the German state of Hesse. Despite the region’s prominence in German wine-making lore, Rheingau only accounts for less than 5% of all German vineyard acreage under cultivation. Vineyards are primarily located on the river’s right bank. Leading wine-producing villages of the Rheingau include Hochheim am Main, Walluf, Eltville, Rauenthal, Kiedrich, Hattenheim, Oestrich, Winkel, Johannisberg, and Rudesheim.
The history of winemaking in Rheingau extends back to the 900s and the reign of Charlemagne, who ordered vineyards to be planted in the region. Recently, there has been new evidence discovered of a winemaking tradition stretching all the way back to the Roman era. Given the long history of winemaking in Rheingau, it has acquired a special place in the overall tradition of German winemaking.
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Here is a brief audio guide on Rheingau wine region. Check it out.