The Mittelrhein, one of Germany’s 13 wine growing regions, extends 100km along the Rhine River between Bonn and Bingen. Due to its location, Mittelrhein is also known as the Rhine Gorge. This wine region is one of the most beautiful in Germany because of the steep, terraced vineyards, which makes it one of the most scenic. Along with the natural beauty of the area, there are also plenty of castles and ruins on the rocky outcrops and peaks where history seems to come to life.
What You Should Know About Mittelrhein Wine Region
Mittelrhein wine region has roughly 450 ha of land under vines. The area abuts the western edge of Rheinhessen and northern border of Nahe at its southern end. It also intersects with the wine regions of Mosele and Ahr. Most of the vineyards in the area are planted with the Riesling grape and in years of good yields, the grapes are sold and used for the production of Sekt or German sparkling wine. Unfortunately, in recent times viticulture in the area has been on the decline due to an increase in urban development.
The Mittelrhein region is dominated by white wine varietals such as Riesling, which makes up 70% of the vines in the area. The only red wine grape that is grown in significant quantity is the Spatburgunder or Pinot Noir, and it accounts for 10% of the red grape vines.
Only a small quantity of the wine produced in the Mittelrhein wine region is exported and it is still relatively unknown even in the German market. For wine enthusiasts wanting to visit the region, the most popular driving routes are the B9 and the B42, which run along the banks of the Rhine River. The roads provide for a beautiful hillside drive with breath-taking views and run through the Rheingoldstraß, the Hunsrück Hills, Rhens, Niederheimbach, and the Loreley-Burgenstraße.
The climate of Mittelrhein wine region: By German standards, the climate of the Mittelrhein is considered mild, meaning spring arrives early, extending the growing season for grapes. Because the Mittelrhein wine region is situated along the banks of the river, the vineyards are planted along steep hillsides, which create a valley that protects the vines from the cold allowing them to bask in the sunshine. The Rhine River running through the valley also creates a large, heat-reflecting surface for the vineyards.
The vintners in Mittelrheing wine region favour the classic white grape varieties. Riesling is the most widespread grape variety with 65% of the territory, producing mineral wines with fine aromas and acidity. Riesling is followed by Müller-Thurgau, Pinot Gris and Pinot Blanc. Less popular white grape varieties include Grauer Burgunder, Scheurebe and Chardonnay. From red grapes, Pinot Noir is the most important. You can also find Portuguese, Regent, and Cabernet Dorsa.
Why Mittelrhein Wines are Unqiue
Mittelrhein wines are unique because they are all distinctly different from each other. Some of the wines might taste like apricot, while another might have a more floral flavour. Some wines are considered to be sweet, while others are dry.
Despite all of these differences, all of the wines produced in this wine region have an extraordinary depth to them. One of the most significant wines produced in the region is the Riesling; it has a fruity flavour while also having a distinct spiciness, which makes it an easy drinking wine that locals find they can sip on all day!
The sparkling wines produced in the Mittelrhein region can be described as vivacious and compared to sparkling wines produced in other regions is particularly aromatic. The most cultivated grapes for producing wine in Mittelrhein are Riesling, Spatburgnder, Muller-Thurgau, Kerner, Dornfelder and Grauer Burgunder.
Right on the Rhein River, this winery has 4,5 hectares of vineyards, 90% of which are Riesling grapes and the rest 10% is Müller-Thurgau. Their wine production reflects all the characteristics of the typical Mittelrhein wine. All the fermentation process happens in the cellar of the winery and with a wine tasting, you can taste some fresh and fruity wine.
Bacharach is a spectacularly beautiful town situated in the Upper Middle Rhine Valley, an area classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. On every hilltop of the town one can see beautiful old castles tucked away with charm and some of the best German wine can be enjoyed.
The town of Bacharach is one of Germany’s most well-preserved medieval towns and it was originally established by the Celts who named the town after the God of Wine, Bacchus. Visitors to Bacharach must not miss the symbol of the town, the Burg Stahleck Castle and take some time for a cruise along the Rhine River.
Rheinfels Castle – Come Feel the Romance
Rheinfels Castle is located on a hill outside the town of Sankt Goar. The castle is almost entirely a ruin as it was damaged by the French troops in 1787. Rheinfels Castle still attracts many tourists also thanks to its proximity to the Loreley Rock, which is visible from the castle on the other bank of the Rhine River.
Recently, some of the buildings surrounding the castle have become a four-star hotel, with a wellness centre and a restaurant in the old treasure room of the castle. The stunning location and the quality of the services, make this hotel perfect for a romantic getaway.
In a few minutes from the castle, you can reach Weingut Philippsmühle, where you will be able to taste several different wines paired with local food.
Koblenz – Where Historic Heritage Meets the Modern Present
Koblenz is technically in the Mosel, but its proximity to Mittelrhein makes it a good destination for a trip in between wine tastings. The city is often referred to as a gateway to heritage and is also part of the classified UNESCO World Heritage Site in the Upper Middle Rhine Valley. The city is famous for its perfect mix of past and present bearing characteristics of the German Rhine life, French lifestyle and Prussian history, giving it a unique feel.
Points of interest:
Absolutely worth a visit are the many castles still present around the city; to see them all take the Rhine Castle Trail that also passes through the Mittelrhein wine region.
The heart of the old town is the Jesuitenplatz (Jesuits Square), where the former Jesuit college is and it now hosts the town hall.
The presence of the Prussians in the history of the town is evident at the Ehrenbreitstein Fortress, which has been perfectly maintained to preserve this piece of history. The fortress is also home to the Landesmuseum Koblenz (State Museum of Koblenz).
Get Lost in Nature of Upper Middle Rhine Valley
Mittelrhein is often considered the most picturesque part of the entire Rhine River Valley because of its abundance of natural and cultural attractions that can satisfy the appetite of any type of visitor to the region.
The Loreley Rock – A Legendary Island
The Loreley Rock is a rock emerging from the banks of the Rhine in the Rhine Gorge roughly 130 meters high. The name directly translates as “the murmuring rock” because of the murmuring sound created by the waterfalls and undulating currents around the rock. As a matter of fact, a statue portraying a siren can be seen at the rock.
The mysterious nature of the imposing rock has inspired many legends and folk stories in German culture, which intrigues all visitors to the site. The German poet Heinrich Heine dedicated a poem to the Loreley, a beautiful siren who sits above the rock on the Rhine;
In 2002, the Loreley Rock was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site and it can be seen from both sides of the river or on a river boat cruise down the Rhine.
Mittelrhein Klettersteig – Accept the Challenge
Along the Rhine, near the town of Boppard, the German Alpine Association has created a challenge for all climbers, which cannot be found in any other region – the Middle Rhine Rock Climb. This climb is fairly challenging and is not for beginner climbers as it consists of 10 ladders, 130 foot holds and 180 meters of steel wire which have been mounted to create a climb like no other.
In order to complete, the climber has to go through 11 climbing passages and cover 5 km of vertical climbing, defying some heights that are not for the faint hearted. Anyone interested in completing the climb must have prior climbing experience.
Traumschleifen Saar Hunsrück – The Dream Loop
The Traumschleifen Saar Hunsrück, also known as the Dream Loop, is a paradise for hikers and nature lovers. The 110 trails are between 6 and 20km long and all together make up a circular route.
The Dream Loop follows a course of narrow paths which have been naturally carved out by the earth and passes through various water sources and rock formations. On the trails, it is easy to pass incredible viewpoints, where one can witness both natural and cultural landmarks.
Food to Try to Get a Full Mittelrhein Experience
In recent years German food has changed dramatically and it is no longer limited to sausage and beer. Local delicacies are delicious and varied and are made using only the best local ingredients to create fresh and seasonal dishes specific to the region. Most German dishes are known for being hearty and rustic but there are also many dishes that are sophisticated and provide the ideal dining experience paired with local excellent German wines.
Himmel und Ärd – Between Heaven and Earth
This dish with a heavenly name consists of black pudding, mashed potatoes or kartoffelsalat, fried onions and apple syrup. The peculiar name of the dish opposes the apples that grow on trees, to the potatoes that grow on the earth.
Sometimes würst or pork ribs are served instead of the black pudding. This dish is mainly served in winter and the chef suggests accompanying it with a local Pinot Noir.
Dippeküchen – Not Your Average Cake
Although küchen means cake in German, you should not be deceived when you discover that this dish is a hearty potato casserole. It is traditionally made with smoked pork belly, onions, eggs and bread rolls soaked in milk. The raw potatoes are grated, well seasoned, and mixed with the other chopped ingredients. The mixture is transferred to a cast iron casserole and baked in a hot oven for about two hours so that a delicious brown crust is formed.
On the Rhine this traditional autumn/winter dish is served with apple purée, but everyone has their own, special Dippeküchen recipe.
Rhenisch Style Mussels – Seafood Where You Least Expect It
Although the German Rhine is a long way from the sea, mussels have always been eaten here. In earlier times there was a flourishing wine and timber trade with the Netherlands. Relieved of their heavy freight, the barges stocked up on goods from the coast before embarking on their homeward journey, which is how Matjes herrings and mussels arrived to the Middle Rhine.
For Rhenisch style mussels, the shells are first cleaned and then boiled in a stock of root vegetables and white wine. The stock is then served as a sauce.
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Map of Wineries in Mittelrhein wine region
Discover the long wine tradition of Mittelrhein and discover some of the best wineries in this region
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