The history of wine on the Middle Rhine 2000 years of merriment and flavour
The names of many of today’s settlements and vineyards have Celtic roots.
Following Caesar’s conquest of Gaul, the Romans settled in the World Heritage
Valley bringing their culture and– perhaps just as importantly – their wine-growing tradition with them to the banks of the Middle Rhine.
In the 5th century AD the Romans abandoned the Rhine Valley and were succeeded by the Franks. A royal charter from the Merovingian period in the mid
seventh century contains the first reference to wine-cultivation on the Middle
Rhine. From that time on, the estates of monasteries and other religious institutions became important wine-growing centres. From the 11th century onwards wine was increasingly grown on steeply sloping sites. Wine from the
Middle Rhine was now a desirable commodity and it was no coincidence that
Bacharach became a prominent centre for the wine trade. The turmoil of the
Thirty Years’ War also left its mark on the Rhine Valley and the wine-growing
trade was badly affected. In the following decades the region gradually recovered and it was not until the phylloxera epidemic, which afflicted the vineyards in the Rhine Valley from 1884 onwards, that wine-growing was threatened again. Many of the vines had to be pulled up and burnt. Some of the wine growers on the Middle Rhine switched to fruit farming. The Middle Rhine has been part of one of Germany’s six wineproducing regions since the establishment of the Federal State of Rhineland Palatinate.