Wine Growing Regions
Sachsen is Germany's easternmost and one of the smallest wine-growing regions. Its recorded viticultural history dates from 1161 shows parallels with other wine regions, where the Church and the aristocracy were the primary medieval property owners and responsible for the development of the vineyards. In addition to viticulture, their legacy includes a wealth of art and architectural gems throughout the region. Most of the vineyards are located between Dresden and Diesbar-Seusslitz, the northern end of the Saxon Wine Road. A few vineyards are being restored on the southern outskirts of Dresden and further south, in Pillnitz and Pirna, the gateway to Saxon's Switzerland. Many of the small parcels are planted on steep, labor-intensive stone terraces. The proximity of the Elbe River helps to temper the climate, but given this northerly location and growing conditions similar to those of Saale-Unstrut, it is not surprising that the early-ripening Müller-Thurgau predominates. In Sachen the wines are marketed as varietals and nearly always vinified dry.
Geographical location: In the upper Elbe Valley, along the 51° of latutide. The region extends about 55 km/ 34 miles north and south of Dresden. About 100 km/62 miles to the north there are a few patches of vines not far from Wittenberg, where Martin Luther posted his famous theses in 1517.
Major town(s): Dresden, Meissen, Radebeul
Climate: Continental, with warm, dry summers and cold winters
Soil types: The steepest slopes are of weathered granite and gneiss, with loess or sand deposits in some of the vineyards.
Vineyard area (2017): 497 ha · 2 districts · 4 collective vineyard sites · 17 individual sites
Grape varieties [white 81.9% · red 18.1%] (2017): Müller-Thurgau (14.5%), Riesling (14.3%), Weißburgunder (11.9%) as well as Kerner, Gewürztraminer and Scheurebe
Marketing: Most of the region's vines are tended by part-time wine-growers who deliver their crop to the regional cooperative cellars in Meissen. There are a handful of private wine estates that produce and sell their own wine. The state-owned cellars in historic Schloss Wackerbarth (1730) in Radebeul and the region's oldest estate at Schloss Proschwitz (privately owned) are Sachsen's largest estates. Saxon wines are rarities, available in very limited quantities, and nearly all are consumed by locals.
Signposted routes through wine country: Sächsische Weinstraße (driving), which is also the starting point for the hiking trail through the vineyards · Elberadweg (cycling road)