Riesling has found a truly spectacular home along the river Mosel in Germany. The steep and often terraced hills rise majestically from the banks of the river, offering the grapes a maximum of sunlight due to the almost perpendicular exposure. Facing south the vineyards are sheltered from the cold north winds. Sunlight is reflected from the water and heat is stored in the dark slate soils. In addition, the steepness easily drains off excessive rainwater. The slate soils have also proven to be uncomfortable for the phylloxera louse. The Mosel region is Europe's largest single area where vines are still growing on their own rootstock. More than half of the Mosel's vines are ungrafted.
The Mosel river originates as the Moselle in the Vosges mountains of France's Alsace. Then, for a brief moment, it functions as the border between Luxembourg and Germany, before it finally meets the famous vineyards of Ürzig, Wehlen, Brauneberg and Bernkastel. At Koblenz it finally flows into the mighty river Rhine, thus ending its wine imbued journey after roughly 550 km (340 miles).
The name of the region was shortened from Mosel-Saar-Ruwer to simply Mosel in 2007, but still includes the wines made along the rivers Saar and Ruwer.
The Mosel districts
There are 6 districts within the Mosel wine region. Following the flow of the water the Upper Mosel (Obermosel) starts just south of Trier, followed by the Mosel's smallest district, the Moseltor. The districts Saar and Ruwer are named after two tributary rivers of the Mosel. Next is the Middle Mosel (Mittelmosel), with such famous vineyards as Brauneberger Juffer, Wehlener Sonnenuhr or Bernkasteler Doctor. And finally, before it joins the river Rhine near Koblenx it meets the Lower Mosel (Untermosel), in which Europe's steepest vineyard lies, the Bremmer Calmont. This part is also called the Terrassenmosel since most hills here are so steep that vines can only be grown on terraced vineyards.