Soil & Sites

Viticulture & winemaking

Soil & Sites

Soil types: The soil nourishes the roots, and thus, the vines, with water and nutrients. Furthermore, the soil influences heat conservation and with it, the development of the vine and the ripening of the grapes.

The type of soil and the extent to which it is weathered can also influence the grapes' absorption of individual substances, as well as the finished wine's aroma and taste. Grapes are cultivated in a wide variety of soil types in Germany. The substrata of vineyards are extremely varied, both in terms of soil types and structure. It is these geological - as well as climatic - factors that are responsible for the differences among the various vineyard sites. Not every soil type is suitable for every grape variety. Thanks to this great diversity of soil types, there is no homogenized style of German wine, but rather, a wide range of quite distinctive wines.


The most favorable conditions for viticulture in Germany are the south- or southwest-facing slopes of protected valleys, e.g. along the Rhine and its tributaries as well as the valleys of the Elbe, Saale and Unstrut rivers. The exposure to sunlight is more intense on slopes than in flat sites and slopes with a southern exposure also profit from longer periods of sunshine.

Germany's total vineyard area is divided into a number of geographical units, large and small, to distinguish between the two fundamental quality categories of wine that exist within the European Union: Deutscher Wein (former "Tafelwein") and Qualitätswein (quality wine). There are five broad Deutscher Wein regions, further divided into eight subregions for simple Deutscher Wein and 19 areas for the more distinctive wine called Deutscher Landwein. The largest geographical unit for German quality wine is one of the 13 specified wine-growing regions, subdivided into smaller appellations, e.g. Bereich (district), Großlage (collective vineyard site) and Einzellage (individual vineyard site). Over the years, several of the Großlage names have become so well known that they virtually function as brands, particularly in the German supermarket trade and in export markets. Usually, Germany's top-quality wines bear the name of an Einzellage. Unlike in France, however, there is no officially recognized vineyard classification in Germany.

Wine-growing region District Collective Site Individual Site
Ahr 1 1 43
Baden 9 15 315
Franken 3 22 211
Hessische Bergstraße 2 3 24
Mittelrhein 2 11 111
Mosel 6 20 507
Nahe 1 7 312
Pfalz 2 25 330
Rheingau 1 11 120
Rheinhessen 3 24 442
Saale-Unstrut 2 4 20
Sachsen 2 4 16
Württemberg 6 20 207
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