Viticulture in Germany dates back to the days of the Roman Empire (the first and second century AD), and while German winemakers are not as prolific as those in France, Italy or Spain, the wines they do produce are held in high regard. Germany is known primarily for Riesling, considered by many to be the most noble of white wine grapes. Because of Germany’s cooler climate, most of the wines it produces — and nearly all that it exports — are white wines. Riesling is, of course, the most widely planted grape, followed by Müller-Thurgau, Silvaner and Gewürtztraminer. Red varietals are not completely abandoned, however, and Germany produces some terrific Pinot Noirs, most of which are labeled as Spätburgunder.
A majority of German wine comes from its western half, along the valleys of the Rhine River and its tributaries. The top wine regions in the country include Mosel, Rheinhessen and Pfalz.