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Germany: the Mosel region, the oldest, and some would say the best

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Traditionally known as the Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, the Mosel has a place in German winemaking unmatched by any other region. Mosel is the heart of German terroir, with wines that are often top of their class in international competitions, and wines that perfectly reflect the distinct hillsides on which their grapes are grown. The Mosel river is central to the region, but the tributaries of Saar and Ruwer have their own distinct microclimates, and all three have their share of world-class vineyards.


The slopes of these rivers are so steep it’s difficult to imagine planting grapes on them – but it’s exactly that steepness that allows the vines to ripen fully and produce such exceptional fruit. Rainwater runs off quickly, too, leaving the roots dry. And the steepness necessitates hand harvesting in a world increasingly dominated by automated picking. All of this comes at a cost, of course, and Mosel wines tend to be the most expensive German wines – but fans would say that they are also the most consistently high quality as well. For most of the world’s wine-buying elite, other German regions are scarcely on the radar – indeed, when it comes to riesling, few other regions on earth compare. It is virtually an axiom of wine buying that the best riesling comes from Mosel.


This all makes visiting Mosel the high point of many wine-lovers’ European trips. The region has a flourishing wine tourism industry, though for most of the top wineries you will want to call ahead to make a reservation to taste – it is generally larger wineries and places with a presence in one of the region’s major cities that have open tastings. Many wineries in the area have also opened up cottages on their properties to guests, so you can stay in the vineyard while you taste.


The best time to visit the Mosel is between May and October, through the end of ripening and into the harvest of non-ice wines. Visiting in this period has an added bonus: many wineries open up temporary restaurants and tasting rooms (which they are allowed to do by law for four months out of the year), called Straußwirtschaft. A pass is available to visitors in that time, which lists opening and closing times, locations, and offers a frequent buyer discount.