Germany: Vine varieties

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Wine

Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

  • About

Before the concept of quality in wine started to spread from the estates of the Church and the nobility in the 18th century, different vine varieties were grown as field blends as a hedge against crop failure. In these circumstances, the question of grape ripeness was less important and, until the early 19th century, many harvests were gathered before their time, to avoid the risk of uncontrollable rot. The attraction of Riesling was probably its performance in the vineyard rather than because of its wine. Amid the chaos and competition of a mixed plantation, Riesling made a mark, sufficient for large estates to start growing it as a single vine. As the value of late and selective harvesting became understood, the reputation of Riesling wine rose above that of all other white grape varieties.