The breathtakingly beautiful vineyard slopes of Germany’s winemaking valleys are synonymous with the country’s winemaking identity, and attract thousands of wine tourists every year.

Yet according to the German Wine Institute (DWI), vineyards on steep slopes account for only around 14% of the nation’s vineyards. To be considered a ‘steep’, a vineyard must have a slope of more than 30 degrees. For those adventurous travellers who hike along these steep slopes, it’s hard to imagine how it would be possible to work them.

A Reflection of its Origin

But these steep slopes bring many benefits to the wine, which is of course, a reflection of its origin. South-facing slopes particularly, benefit from more intense sunshine, and as such, the soil retains this heat for longer creating ideal climatic conditions. The creation of terraced slopes also prevents soil erosion during heavy rain events, which have become increasingly common in recent times.

Beneficial for Biodiversity

Due to the dry, warm microclimate the terraced slopes are very beneficial for biological diversity, forming vital habitats for rare or protected animals and plants. Some of them have adapted to viticultural cultivation over the years. Scientific studies have shown that after the creation of transverse terraces, the biodiversity and the occurrence of butterflies and insects in the vineyards increase significantly. For example, during a study of the Moselle Valley 178 species of wild bees and 58 species of butterflies were found. Terraces that are supported by dry stone walls are even legally protected as designated biotopes.

A Labour of Love

Steep sloped vineyards are labour-intensive and costly to maintain. While it only takes around 200 to 250 hours to cultivate one hectare of vineyards on flat plains, it takes 800 to 1,600 hours on steep slopes, depending on the level of mechanisation.

Dedication and passion are required to work these lands, but when you taste the originating from these vineyards, you can see why the winemakers commit to this labour of love. The WineBarn, an exclusively German wine merchant based in the UK recommend two of the very best VDP wines from the terraced slopes of the river Mosel…

How Germany’s landscape shapes its wine

2022 Flussterrassen (River Terrace) Riesling off-dry
£19.80 per bottle

This Riesling has exciting fresh fruit flavours of juicy pineapple, combined with the effervescence of grapefruit and sweetness of mirabelle. Its lively fruitiness is balanced by its delicate character. This off-dry white wine has a fine minerality, which perfects and round off the taste. The wine’s fruity freshness not only refines aromatic main courses but also harmonises perfectly with specialities cheese. Tamlyn Currin, talented wine writer for Jancis Robinson, described this Riesling as, “Like the Mineralschiefer, there is a leafiness and a touch of crushed hemp seeds. It tastes basically dry, with the halbtrocken being expressed in peachiness rather than sweetness. The acidity carries it well.”

How Germany’s landscape shapes its wine

2022 Riesling Von Den Terrassen dry
£27.99 per bottle

This dry Riesling has a deep minerality reflective of its terroir. It is an extremely dense and melty dry white wine, with spicy notes. The grapes for this Riesling were sourced from several terraced vineyards around the village, all of which had slate-rich soil. Farmed sustainably and carefully harvested by hand, the grapes were then gently pressed. The wine was fermented using natural yeast and had long contact on the lees. Tamlyn Currin, described this Riesling as, “A selection from their terraced vineyards. Herbal nose (dill). Strict. Austere. Salty.”

Iris Ellmann, Managing Director of The WineBarn. Photo: Iris Ellmann

The WineBarn is a a multi-award-winning wine merchant that specialises in exclusively German wine and have been bringing pure drinking pleasure to the UK for over 23 years. Their elegant wines have been selected to cover a range of styles - from the affordable to the luxury, from dry to sweet and from fresh to full-bodied, ensuring there’s something to suit all tastes and pair with any cuisine.

To find your new favourite German wine, you can contact the award-winning merchant The WineBarn now.

Call: 0044 (0)1962 761 215

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