Harvesting Mosel gold

  • Published
  • By Iris Reiff
  • 52nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs
Hundreds of hard-working men and women from the Moselland area were as busy as ever harvesting what is known as the Moselland gold during the past few weeks.

They Climb up and down steep hills to ensure all the grapes are harvested and it looks like the quality of this years' wines will be close to those of recent years.

Germany has nearly 240,000 acres of vineyards. About 88 percent of this area is planted in white and 12 percent in the red grape variety.

Spangdahlem residents live at the doorstep of a delightful wine region, where some of the finest white wines in the world originate.

Most wines produced here are sweet and fruity.

The wine growing area of this region has more than 25,000 acres, 75 percent of which are covered with Riesling vines. The rest are cultivated with Mueller-Thurgau, Elbling and other grape varieties. The average annual yield is about 22 million gallons of wine.

From Trier to Koblenz, where the Mosel joins the Rhine, there are too many wine-growing villages to mention. Each town and village has some very fine vineyards, many with a world-wide reputation for producing top quality wines.

Harvesting wines in different geographic areas is always decided by the local government. Then it is up to a commission of wine growers within that area to determine individual harvesting times, which may vary from village to village.

For the earlier grapes, such as the Mueller-Thurgau or Elbling, the Weinlese, or grape harvest, began in September and just ended. Grapes that need a little longer to ripen, such as those of the popular Riesling vines, are harvested from mid-October until mid-November. 

An important thing to remember is the region where the grapes are grown. For Mosel wines, labels read "Mosel-Saar-Ruwer." This indicates the grapes were grown on the Mosel or in the smaller side valley regions of the Saar and Ruwer rivers where the Riesling wine flourishes.

With all the great wine in this region and all the information you now know, there's no better reason to explore the Mosel and experience the taste of the wines it produces.

More information about wines from the Mosel region: 
Mosel wines are characterized by their fine bouquets, golden color and typical aromatic elegant piquant taste. Some Mosel wines are robust and lively with high acidity; others are stimulating with a fruity taste. There are also light wines.

Although Mosel wines have a common basic character, they differ from village to village and vineyard to vineyard depending on the soil. Famous names include Wehlen, Bernkastel, Uerzig, Zeltingen, Piesport, Graach and Trittenheim. Wines from the Saar and the Ruwer resemble those of the Mosel family.

A distinctive product of this region is wine from the Riesling vine. The grapes of the Riesling vine stock are small and contain a large number of seeds. They need a longer time to ripen, are harvested in late October, November and even December, and don't produce as much juice as other types of grapes.

Riesling juice is very concentrated and produces a full and rich wine taste. Consequently, wines made from Riesling vines are more expensive.

Quality wines with special attributes are top wines and bear a special name or domination, exactly defined by law.

Since 1971, the label indicates clearly the quality category. Denominations and their characteristics are:

Kabinett: The elegant nature wine harvested during the general vintage time, usually October.
Spaetlese: Wine made from grapes picked after the completion of the normal harvest, giving special bouquet and fruitiness.
Auslese: The ripest bunches of grapes are individually selected, picked and pressed. These grapes produce noble wines for great occasions.
Beerenauslese: Wine made from over-ripe but sound berries selected from each bunch of grapes.
Trockenbeerenauslese: The most precious wine made from a special selection of over-ripe raisin-like grapes. This is the richest, sweetest and finest wine.
Eiswein: Ice wine is made from vintage grapes harvested in a special way. The wine is made from grapes picked and pressed while frozen. Consequently, the pressing produces highly concentrated "must" or sugar-to-water content, retaining the frozen water as ice particles with the husks of grapes. Eiswein is a fascinating wine because of its very special character.

If the word "Natur" appears on any wine label, it indicates no sugar was added to the wine.