The Moselle River Valley is one of the oldest winegrowing regions in Germany. Its steep slopes, densely planted with vineyards, make the Moselle a unique cultural and oenological landscape in the wine world. Indeed, winemaking tradition on the Moselle goes clear back to the Romans, 2000 years ago, whose many historic wine press houses can still be found in the river valley.
The total area planted in grapes along the Moselle River has diminished in recent decades in the course of economization. In the year 1990 there were 12500 hectares (30888 acres) of vineyards, but by the year 2007 this figure had fallen to 8990 hectares (22215 acres). The major reason for this phenomenon in those years was a precipitous drop in demand for Moselle wines. Today, by contrast, Riesling wines from the Moselle River Valley are experiencing a resurgence in strength and reputation and are enjoying increasingly great popularity throughout the entire world.
Nearly 9000 hectares (22240 acres) of vineyards on the German part of the Moselle stretch for 243 kilometers (151 miles), starting on the upper Moselle near Perl and ending in Koblenz, where the Moselle flows into the Rhine River. The steep slate slopes of the Moselle store heat during the day and release it to the vines during the night, thus providing a unique microclimate and optimal conditions for growth of one of the best grape varieties in the world - the "Queen of Wines" - the Riesling. This grape variety thrives on the slopes of the Moselle, producing fine fruity high-mineral wines cherished by wine connoisseurs on all continents.
Riesling grapes account for more than 5000 hectares (12355 acres) of the grapes planted on the Moselle, making it not only the most important grape variety cultivated in the region, but also making the Moselle River Valley the largest cohesive Riesling winegrowing area in the world. In addition to the "Queen of Vines", other white grape varieties grown on the Moselle include Elbling, Rivaner (also called Müller-Thurgau) and White Burgundy (Pinot Blanc). Starting in the year 1990, the German wine laws once again permitted winegrowers to plant red grapes in vineyards in the Moselle Valley. The result has been that Pinot Noir and other red grape varieties now account for about 10% of the total Moselle vineyard acreage.
The "Middle Moselle" -- the heart of the Moselle winegrowing area -- is characterized by weathered slate soil which contains a high content of blue slate stone. A number of famous vineyards are found in the Middle Moselle, such as Bernkasteler Doctor, Wehlener Sonnenuhr, Brauneberger Juffer and Ürziger Würzgarten. The unofficial "capital" of the Middle Moselle is the town of Bernkastel-Kues, the birthplace of the famed Cardinal of Rome, Nicholaus of Kues (also known as Nicolaus Cusanus or Nicholas of Cusa), whose world renown library is today housed in the St. Nicholas Hospital which he built in Bernkastel-Kues and which today also serves as home to the Moselle Wine Museum and the largest Moselle Vinothek (wine shop) in the region. The picturesque historic "old town" of Bernkastel is an inviting destination throughout the wine season, offering an abundant selection of many small fine restaurants serving both regional as well as specialty cuisines.