Wine Growing Regions
Vines have been cultivated since AD 998 on the hillsides lining the Saale and Unstrut rivers which lend their name to the small, but growing, Saale-Unstrut region.
It is among the northernmost of Europe's traditional wine regions. Due to this, and the cooler climate, the weather is more variable than in the regions to the west. As such, many of the vines are planted on labor-intensive stone terraces that help temper the climate. Yields are low and Spätlese or Auslese can be produced only in exceptionally warm years. The wines are labelled as varietals and, with the exception of extremely rare dessert wines, all wines are vinified dry and have a refreshing acidity.
Geographical location: Situated on the 51° of latitude, in the valleys of the Saale and Unstrut rivers about equidistant between Weimar and Leipzig. About 30 km /19 miles to the north is a small island of vines near Eisleben, where Martin Luther was born and died.
Major town(s): Freyburg, Naumburg, Bad Kösen.
Climate: Continental, with warm, dry summers and cold winters.
Soil types: Shell-limestone and colored sandstone.
Vineyard area (2003): 652 ha / 1,611 acres · 2 districts · 4 collective vineyard sites · 18 individual sites
Grape varieties [white 76.2% · red 23.8%] (2003): Müller-Thurgau (21.8%), Silvaner (8.7%), Weissburgunder (11.7%) as well as Kerner, Riesling and Traminer (ca. 6% each). Portugieser is the main red variety, followed by Spätburgunder and Dornfelder.
Marketing: Most of the region's vines are tended by part-time wine-growers who deliver their crop to the regional cooperative cellars in Freyburg. There are 14 private wine estates that produce and sell their own wine. The state-owned cellars "Kloster Pforta," named after the 12th-century monastery between Bad Kösen and Naumburg, is the region's largest estate. The amount of wine produced annually varies tremendously, depending on weather conditions, and nearly all of it is consumed locally.
Signposted routes through wine country: Weinstrasse (driving) [sections of the wine road are identical with the Romanesque Road, with signs leading to historical castles and churches] · Wanderweg (hiking) · Radwanderweg (cycling)