Pinot Noir

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Posted by motoman 04/09/2009 @ 11:11

Tags : pinot noir, wine, food and wine, leisure

News headlines
Wine: Take aim at Monterey's pinot noirs - Hub
More than any other grape variety, pinot noir reflects the ground it's grown in, which makes it important to choose your pinot noirs carefully. Pinot noir works best in well-drained soil on hillsides with lots of sunshine but not too much heat....
I don't like Moon-days - Baltimore Sun
Well pour me a Pinot Noir, smack my butt and call me Krakatoa. I can understand that there is a certain lunatic fringe who will buy into anything, but the idea that major retailers are encouraging people to not drink wine ever is bonkers ....
Blind tasting at Willamette Valley Vineyards for Memorial Day - kgw.com
Willamette Valley Vineyards is holding a special blind tasting on Memorial Day for fans of Pinot Noir. Wine grape plants grow at a Willamette Valley winery. The winner in the blind tasting will earn a day in the cellar with Winemaker Don Crank for a...
Salty's serves up a salmon and Pinot noir dinner - Examiner.com
The dishes were all intriguing, including the sweet corn chowder with hard-smoked river run salmon (the belly), and Copper River salmon braised in Pinot with morels and king mushrooms - then topped with caviar. But my favorite dish didn't make it into...
Pinot noir awakens with ginger, berry notes - The Star-Ledger - NJ.com
by John Foy/For The Star-Ledger Delightful and reasonably priced pinot noir is found in a glass of the 2006 Clos du Bois Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir. Founded in 1974 by Frank Wood, Clos du Bois has grown from a small family winery to one of California's...
Volcanic alternative to Pinot - San Francisco Chronicle
The steep slopes of Sicily's Mount Etna seem an unlikely place to find Pinot Noir's new alternative. Etna's vineyards thrive in fertile, dark sands, the decayed output of this still very active volcano. It is a rugged existence for the native Nerello...
Far Niente launches Pinot Noir - decanter.com
Renowned Napa winery Far Niente has unveiled the first vintage of its new Russian River Valley Pinot Noir venture, EnRoute. The inaugural 2007 vintage of the wine, called 'Les Pommiers', has been launched by Far Niente and Nickel & Nickel wineries....
Memorial Day weekend winery events - Statesman Journal
Ankeny Vineyard Winery: Live music, food and wine; taste the 2006 Hershy's Red Pinot Noir, the 2006 Foch, a new estate Chardonnay and pinot gris, and the new pinot noir dessert wine, Ankeny Arbor, 11 am to 5 pm Saturday-Monday, 2565 Riverside Drive S....
The many faces of New Zealand pinot noir - San Jose Mercury News
By Laurie Daniel Consumers tend to lump all New Zealand pinot noir into one category. But just as pinot noirs from, say, the Russian River Valley are distinct from those of Santa Maria Valley, New Zealand pinots vary throughout the country....

Pinot noir

Pinot noir grapes at Chehalem Ridgecrest Vineyard, Newberg, Oregon

Pinot noir (IPA: ) is a red wine grape variety of the species Vitis vinifera. The name may also refer to wines produced predominantly from Pinot noir grapes. The name is derived from the French words for "pine" and "black" alluding to the varietals' tightly clustered dark purple pine cone-shaped bunches of fruit.

Pinot noir grapes are grown around the world, mostly in the cooler regions, but the grape is chiefly associated with the Burgundy region of France. It is widely considered to produce some of the finest wines in the world, but is a difficult variety to cultivate and transform into wine.

Pinot noir thrives in France's Burgundy region, particularly on the Côte-d'Or which has produced some of the world's most celebrated wines for centuries. It is also planted in Austria, Argentina, Australia, Canada, Chile, the Republic of Georgia, Germany, Hungary, the Republic of Macedonia, Moldova, New Zealand, South Africa, Switzerland and Bulgaria. The United States has increasingly become a major Pinot noir producer, with some of the best regarded coming from the Willamette Valley in Oregon; California's Sonoma County with its Russian River Valley and Sonoma Coast appellations, as well as the Central Coast's Santa Lucia Highlands appellation and the Sta. Rita Hills American Viticultural Area in Santa Barbara County. In New Zealand, it is grown in Martinborough, Waipara, and Central Otago.

The tremendously broad range of bouquets, flavors, textures and impressions that Pinot noir can produce sometimes confuses tasters. In the broadest terms, the wine tends to be of light to medium body with an aroma reminiscent of black cherry, raspberry or currant. Traditional red Burgundy is famous for its fleshy, 'farmyard' aromas, but changing fashions and new easier-to-grow clones have favoured a lighter, fruitier style. The grape's color when young, often compared to that of garnet, is often much lighter than that of other red wines. However, an emerging style from California and New Zealand highlights a more powerful, fruit forward and darker wine that can approach syrah in depth.

It is also used in the production of Champagne (usually along with Chardonnay and Pinot meunier) and is planted in most of the world's wine growing regions for use in both still and sparkling wines. Pinot noir grown for dry table wines is generally low-yielding and often difficult to grow well. Pinot noir grown for use in sparkling wines (e.g. Champagne) is generally higher yielding.

In addition to being used for the production of sparkling and still red wine, Pinot noir is also sometimes used for rosé still wines, and even vin gris white wines.

Pinot noir is an ancient variety that may be only one or two generations removed from wild vines. The origins of the variety are unclear: In De re rustica, Columella describes a grape variety similar to Pinot noir in Burgundy during the 1st century A.D. , however, vines have grown wild as far north as Belgium in the days before phylloxera, and it is possible that Pinot represents an independent domestication of Vitis vinifera. The vines of southern France may represent Caucasian stock transported by the ancient Greeks.

Ferdinand Regner has proposed that Pinot noir is a cross between Pinot meunier (Schwarzriesling) and Traminer, but this work has not been replicated. In fact Pinot meunier appears to be a Pinot noir with a mutation in the epidermal cells which makes the shoot tips hairy and the vine a little smaller. This means that Pinot meunier is a chimera with two tissue layers of different genetic makeup, one of which is identical to Pinot noir. As such, Pinot meunier cannot be the parent of Pinot noir.

Pinot gris is a bud sport of Pinot noir, presumably representing a somatic mutation in either the VvMYBA1 or VvMYBA2 genes that control grape colour. Pinot blanc may represent a further mutation of Pinot gris. The DNA profiles of both Pinot gris and blanc are identical to Pinot noir, The other two major Pinots, Pinot moure and Pinot teinturier, are also genetically very similar.

A more recent white grape sport was propagated in 1936 by Henri Gouges of Burgundy, and there is now 2.5ha planted of this grape which Clive Coates calls Pinot Gouges, and others call Pinot Musigny.

Pinot Liébault is a mutant which has higher, more consistent yields than Pinot noir, but retains its oenological qualities. As such it is explicitly mentioned in some Burgundy appellations.

The Wrotham (pronounced "ruttum") Pinot is an English variety with white hairs on the upper surface of the leaves, and is particularly resistant to disease. Edward Hyams of Oxted Viticultural Research Station was alerted to a strange vine growing against a cottage wall in Wrotham in Kent, which local lore said was descended from vines brought over by the Romans. An experimental Blanc de Noir was made at Oxted, and in 1980 Richard Peterson took cuttings to California, where he now makes a pink sparkling Wrotham Pinot. Wrotham Pinot is sometimes regarded as a synonym of Pinot meunier, but it has a higher natural sugar content and ripens two weeks earlier.

Pinot noir appears to be particularly prone to mutation (suggesting it has active transposable elements?), and has a long history in cultivation, so there are hundreds of different clones such as Pinot Fin and Pinot Tordu. More than 50 are officially recognized in France compared to only 25 of the much more widely planted cabernet sauvignon. The French Etablissement National Technique pour l’Amelioration de la Viticulture (ENTAV) has set up a programme to select the best clones of Pinot. This program has succeeded admirably in increasing the number of quality clones available to growers. Nonetheless, in the new world, particularly in Oregon, wines of extraordinary quality continue to be made from the earlier Pommard and Wadensvil clones.

Gamay Beaujolais is an early-ripening clone of Pinot noir. It is used mostly in California but is also seen in New Zealand. It was brought to California by Paul Masson. Frühburgunder (Pinot Noir Précoce) is an early-ripening grape that is thought to be a clone of Pinot noir - it's possible that the two are the same mutant.

In August 2007, French researchers announced the sequencing of the genome of Pinot noir. It is the first fruit crop to be sequenced, and only the fourth flowering plant.

In the Middle Ages, the nobility of northeast France grew some form of Pinot on the slopes above the peasants' Gouais blanc, a Croatian grape that may have been brought to Gaul by the Romans. Much cross-pollination usually resulted from such close proximity, and the genetic distance between the two parents imparted hybrid vigour leading to many desirable offspring. These include Chardonnay, Aligoté, Auxerrois, Gamay, Melon and eleven others..

In 1925 Pinot noir was crossed in South Africa with the Cinsaut grape (known locally as Hermitage) to create a unique variety called Pinotage.

Pinot noir is produced in several wine growing areas of Australia, notably in the Yarra Valley, Geelong, the Bellarine Peninsula, Beechworth, South Gippsland, Sunbury and Mornington Peninsula in Victoria, Adelaide Hills in South Australia, Great Southern in Western Australia and Tasmania.

In Austria, Pinot noir is sometimes called Blauburgunder (literally Blue Burgundy) and produced in Burgenland and Lower Austria. Austrian Pinot noir wines are dry red wines similar in character to the red wines of Burgundy, mostly aged in French barriques. Some of the best Austrian Pinots come from Neusiedlersee and Blaufraenkischland, (Burgenland) and Thermenregion (Lower Austria).

Quality Pinot noir has been grown in Ontario for some time in the Niagara Peninsula and especially the Short Hills Bench wine region, as well as on the north shore of Lake Erie. It has also been grown recently in the Okanagan, Lower Mainland, and Vancouver Island wine regions of British Columbia and the Annapolis Valley region of Nova Scotia.

Pinot noir is increasingly being planted in the U.K., mostly for use in sparkling wine blends such as Nyetimber. It is sometimes made into a fairly light still red or rose wine, in the style of Alsace, Chapel Down are particular keen on it. The U.K. can claim an indigenous Pinot variety in the Wrotham Pinot (see above).

Pinot noir has made France's Burgundy appellation famous, and vice-versa. Many wine historians, including John Winthrop Haeger and Roger Dion, believe that the association between pinot and Burgundy was the explicit strategy of Burgundy's Valois dukes. Roger Dion, in his thesis regarding Philip the Bold's role in promoting the spread of Pinot noir, holds that the reputation of Beaune wines as "the finest in the world" was a propaganda triumph of Burgundy's Valois dukes. In any event, the worldwide archetype for Pinot noir is that grown in Burgundy where it has been cultivated since 100 CE.

Burgundy's Pinot noir produces great wines which can age very well in good years, developing floral flavours as they age, often reaching peak 15 or 20 years after the vintage. Many of the wines are produced in very small quantities and can be very expensive. Today, the celebrated Côte d’Or area of Burgundy has about 4,500 hectares (11,000 acres) of Pinot noir. Most of the region's finest wines are produced from this area. The Côte Chalonnaise and Mâconnais regions in southern Burgundy have another 4,000 hectares (10,000 acres).

In Jura département, across the river valley from Burgundy, the wines made from Pinot noir are lighter.

In Champagne it used in blending with Chardonnay and Pinot meunier. It can also appear unblended, in which case it may be labeled blanc de noirs. The Champagne appellation has more Pinot planted than any other area of France.

In Sancerre it is used to make red and rosé wines, much lighter in style that those of Burgundy, refreshing served chilled, especially in warmer years when they are less thin.

In Alsace it is generally used to make rosé wines. However, it is also used to make genuine red wines usually called Pinot noir rouge, which are similar in character to red Burgundy and Beaujolais wines but are consumed chilled. Prominent examples are Rouge de Barr and Rouge d'Ottrott. Pinot noir rouge is the only red wine produced in Alsace.

In Germany it is called Spätburgunder, and is now the most widely planted red grape. Historically much German wine produced from Pinot noir was pale, often rosé like the red wines of Alsace. However recently, despite the northerly climate, darker, richer reds have been produced, often barrel (barrique) aged, in regions such as Baden, Palatinate (Pfalz) and Ahr. These are rarely exported and are often very expensive in Germany for the better examples. As "Rhenish", German Pinot noir is mentioned several times in Shakesperean plays as a highly prized wine.

There is also a smaller-berried, early ripening, lower yield variety called Frühburgunder (Pinot noir précoce) which is grown in Rheinhessen and Ahr area and can produce very good wines.

In Italy, where Pinot noir is known as Pinot nero, it has traditionally been cultivated in the Alto Adige, Collio Goriziano, Oltrepò Pavese and Trentino regions to produce Burgundy-style red wines. Cultivation of Pinot noir in other regions of Italy, mostly since the 1980s, has been challenging due to climate and soil conditions.

Large amounts of Pinot were planted in central Moldova during the 19th century, but much was lost to the ravages of phylloxera; Soviet control of Moldova from 1940 to 1991 also reduced the productivity of vineyards. Quality is somewhat variable; Moldovan Pinot can be overoaked and rather rough.

Pinot noir is a grape variety whose importance in New Zealand is greater than the weight of planting. Early in the modern wine industry (late 1970s early 1980s), the comparatively low annual sunshine hours to be found in NZ discouraged the planting of red varieties. But even at this time great hopes were had for Pinot noir (see Romeo Bragato). Initial results were not promising for several reasons, including the mistaken planting of Gamay, and the limited number of Pinot noir clones available for planting. However in recent years Pinot noir from Martinborough and Central Otago has won numerous international awards and accolations making it one of New Zealand's most sought-after varieties.

Historically, one notable exception was the St Helena 1984 Pinot noir from the Canterbury region. This led to the belief for a time that Canterbury might become the natural home for Pinot noir in New Zealand. While the early excitement passed, the Canterbury region has witnessed the development of Pinot noir as the dominant red variety. The next region to excel with Pinot noir was Martinborough on the southern end of the North Island. The moderate climate and long growing season gives wines of great intensity and complexity. In the 2000s, other sub-regions in the Wairarapa have been developed to the north of Martinborough.

At around this time the first plantings of Pinot noir in Central Otago occurred in the Kawarau Gorge. Central Otago had a long (for New Zealand) history as a producer of quality stone fruit and particularly cherries. Significantly further south than all other wine regions in New Zealand, it had been overlooked despite a long history of grape growing. However, it benefited from being surrounded by mountain ranges which increased its temperature variations both between seasons and between night and day making the climate unusual in the typically maritime conditions in New Zealand.

The first vines were planted using holes blasted out of the north facing schist slopes of the region, creating difficult, highly marginal conditions. The first results coming in the mid to late 1990s excited the interest of British wine commentators, including Jancis Robinson and Oz Clarke. The latest sub-region appears to be Waitaki, on the border between Otago and Canterbury.

A recent blind tasting of New Zealand Pinot noir featured in Cuisine magazine (issue 119), Michael Cooper reported that of the top ten wines, five came from Central Otago, four from Marlborough and one from Waipara. This compares with all top ten wines coming from Marlborough in an equivalent blind tasting from last year. Cooper suggests that this has to do with more Central Otago production becoming available in commercial quantities, than the relative qualities of the regions' Pinot noir. In addition, as the industry has matured, many of the country's top producers have made the decision to no longer submit their wines to reviews or shows.

As is the case for other New Zealand wine, New Zealand Pinot noir is fruit-driven, forward and early maturing in the bottle. It tends to be quite full bodied (for the variety), very approachable and oak maturation tends to be restrained. High quality examples of New Zealand Pinot noir, particularly from the Martinborough region, are distinguished by savoury, earthy flavours with a greater complexity.

Pinot noir has recently been produced in small amounts in Lleida province, Catalonia, under the appellation "Costers del Segre" DO.

Pinot noir is a popular grape variety all over Switzerland. In German speaking regions of Switzerland it is often called Blauburgunder. Pinot noir wines are produced in Neuchâtel, Schaffhausen, St. Gallen and Bündner Herrschaft. Neuchâtel, across the border from Burgundy, is renowned for its Pinot noir, a full bodied dry red wine. In Valais, Pinot noir is blended with Gamay to produce the well known Dôle.

By volume most Pinot noir in America is grown in California with Oregon coming in second. Other regions are Washington State, Michigan and New York.

Oregon Pinot noir pioneer David Lett of Eyrie Vineyards first planted Pinot noir in Oregon in 1965, and several other growers followed suit throughout the 1970s. In 1979, Lett took his wines to a competition in Paris, known in English as the Wine Olympics, and they placed third among pinots. In a 1980 rematch arranged by French wine magnate Robert Drouhin, the Eyrie vintage improved to second place. The competition instantly put Oregon on the map as a world class Pinot noir producing region.

The Willamette Valley of Oregon is at the same latitude as the Burgundy region of France, and has a similar climate in which the finicky Pinot noir grapes thrive. In 1987, Drouhin purchased land in the Willamette Valley, and in 1989 built Domaine Drouhin Oregon, a state-of-the-art, gravity-fed winery. Throughout the 1980s, the Oregon wine industry blossomed.

In recent times, wineries in New York State have come to be known for their Pinot noir, in particular the Niagara Escarpment AVA and Warm Lake Estate. The latter, in Lockport, New York, is recognized in the The Oxford Companion to Wine and has been awarded the highest ratings in New York State of any Pinot noir with its 45 acres (180,000 m2) of Pinot noir being the largest continuous planting east of the Rocky Mountains.

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Oregon wine

Pinot noir grapes at Chehalem Ridgecrest Vineyard, Newberg, Oregon

The state of Oregon in the United States has established an international reputation for its production of wine. Oregon has several different growing regions within the state's borders which are well-suited to the cultivation of grapes; additional regions straddle the border between Oregon and the states of Washington and Idaho. Wine making dates back to pioneer times in the 1840s, with commercial production beginning in the 1960s.

American Viticultural Areas entirely within the state include the Willamette Valley, Southern Oregon, Umpqua Valley, and Rogue Valley AVAs. Parts of the Columbia Gorge, Walla Walla Valley, and Snake River Valley AVAs lie within Oregon. Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris are the top two grapes grown, with over 16,000 tons (14,515 metric tons) harvested in 2005. As of 2005, Oregon wine makers produced over 1.5 million cases combined.

With 303 wineries in Oregon, a tourism industry has developed around wine tasting. Much of the tourism focuses on the wineries and tasting rooms in and around the Yamhill Valley southwest of Portland. In 2004, it was estimated that wine tourism contributed USD $92 million to the state economy, excluding winery and tasting room sales.

Wine has been produced in Oregon since the Oregon Territory was settled in the 1840s; however, winemaking has only been a significant industry in the state since the 1960s. Grapes were first planted in the Oregon Territory in 1847, with the first recorded winery being established in 1850 in Jacksonville. Throughout the 19th century, there was experimentation with various varietals by immigrants to the state. In 1904, an Oregon winemaker won a prize at the St. Louis World's Fair. Wine production stopped in the United States during Prohibition. As in other states, the Oregon wine industry lay dormant for thirty years after Prohibition was repealed.

The Oregon wine industry started to rebuild in the 1960s, when California winemakers opened several vineyards in the state. This included the planting of Pinot Noir grapes in the Willamette Valley, a region long thought too cold to be suitable for viticulture. In the 1970s, more out-of-state winemakers migrated to the state and started to organize as an industry. The state's land use laws had prevented rural hillsides from being turned into housing tracts, preserving a significant amount of land suitable for vineyards. In 1979, Eyrie Vineyards entered a 1975 Pinot Noir in the Wine Olympics; the wine was rated among the top Pinots in the world, thus gaining the region its first international recognition.

The accolades continued into the 1980s, and the Oregon wine industry continued to add both wineries and vineyards. The state industry continued to market itself, establishing the first of several AVAs (American Viticulture Areas) in the state. The state also grew strong ties with the Burgundy region of France, as Oregon's governor paid an official visit to Burgundy and a leading French winemaking family bought land in Dundee.

In the early 1990s, the wine industry was threatened by a Phylloxera infestation in the state, but winemakers quickly turned to the use of resistant rootstocks to prevent any serious damage. The state legislature enacted several new laws designed to promote winemaking and wine distribution. The state found a newfound focus on "green" winemaking, leading the global wine industry into more environmentally friendly practices. Several new AVAs were established. By 2005, there were 314 wineries and 519 vineyards in operation in Oregon.

Like other wines produced in the United States, Oregon wines are marketed as varietals. Oregon law requires that wines produced in the state must be identified by the grape variety from which it was made, and for most varietals it must contain at least 90% of that variety. The exceptions to the 90% law are the following varietals: Red and White Bordeaux varietals, Red and White Rhône varietals, Sangiovese, Tempranillo, Zinfandel and Tannat. For these wines, they follow the Federal guidelines of 75%. Oregon law has long forbidden use of place names, except as appellations of origin. Oregon is most famous for its Pinot Noir, which is produced throughout the state. Pinot Noirs from the Willamette Valley have received much critical acclaim from wine connoisseurs and critics, and Oregon is regarded as one of the premier Pinot-producing regions in the world.

Other varieties with significant production in Oregon include Cabernet Sauvignon, Gewürztraminer, Müller-Thurgau, Pinot blanc, Sauvignon blanc, Sémillon, and Syrah. V. vinifera based wines produced in smaller quantities include Arneis, Baco noir, Cabernet franc, Chenin blanc, Dolcetto, Gamay Noir, Grenache, Marechal Foch, Malbec, Muscat, Nebbiolo, Petite Syrah, Sangiovese, Tempranillo, Viognier, and Zinfandel. The state also produces sparkling wine, late harvest wine, ice wine, and dessert wine.

As of the 2005 wine growing season, the state of Oregon has 303 bonded wineries, 384 wine brands, and 734 vineyards growing Vitis vinifera, composing a total of 14,100 acres (57 km2) of which 11,800 acres (48 km2) were harvested in 2005. Out of all US wine growing regions, Oregon ranked third in number of wineries and fourth in production. Nearly 1.6 million cases of Oregon wine were sold in 2005. The retail value of these cases was $184.7 million, a 24% increase over the previous vintage.

The industry has had a significant economic impact on the state. The industry contributed a total of USD $1.4 billion to the Oregon economy. Of that figure, over USD $800 million is directly provided by wineries and vineyards via sales, wages, and spending. It is estimated that the industry contributed 8,479 wine-related jobs and USD $203 million in wages. Exports to other states in 2004 were USD $64.1 million.

Oregon produces wine on a much smaller scale than the California wine industry. Oregon's biggest producer ships only 125,000 cases per year and most produce under 35,000 cases. The state features many small wineries which produce less than 5,000 cases per year. In contrast, E & J Gallo Winery, the United States' largest winery, produced 65 million cases of wine in 2002. The majority of wineries in the state operate their own vineyards, although some purchase grapes on the market. Oregon contains a significant number of independent vineyards.

The Oregon wine industry focuses on the higher-priced segments of the wine market. Oregon growers receive a higher average return per ton and a higher average revenue per case than do growers in other wine-producing regions in the United States. Despite producing a much smaller volume of wine, Oregon winery revenues per capita are comparable to those of New York and Washington.

There are, loosely speaking, three main wine producing regions with a major presence in the state of Oregon, as defined by non-overlapping American Viticultural Areas. Two of them—the Willamette Valley AVA and the Southern Oregon AVA—are wholly contained within Oregon; a third, the Columbia Gorge AVA straddles the Columbia River and includes territory in both Oregon and Washington; however, this AVA is considered to be an Oregon AVA. Portions of the Walla Walla Valley AVA, an area which is primarily in Washington (along with the Columbia Valley AVA which contains it), descend into Oregon in the Milton-Freewater area. The Southern Oregon AVA was recently created as the union of two Southern Oregon winegrowing regions long considered distinct, the Rogue Valley and the Umpqua Valley. Several other smaller AVAs are found within some of these larger regions. The Snake River Valley AVA, which straddles Oregon's border with Idaho along the Snake River, is the first AVA to include a part of Eastern Oregon.

The Willamette Valley AVA is the wine growing region which encompasses the Willamette Valley. It stretches from the Columbia River in the north to just south of Eugene in the south, where the Willamette Valley ends; and from the Oregon Coast Range in the West to the Cascade Mountains in the East. At 5,200 square miles (13,500 km2), it is the largest AVA in the state, and contains most of the state's wineries; approximately 200 as of 2006.

The climate of Willamette Valley is mild year-round, with cool, wet winters and warm, dry summers; extreme temperatures are uncommon. Most rainfall occurs outside the growing season and the valley gets relatively little snow. Not all parts of the Valley are suitable for viticulture, and most wineries and vineyards are found west of the Willamette River, with the largest concentration in Yamhill County.

This region is most famous for its Pinot Noir, and also produces large amounts of Pinot Gris, Riesling, and Chardonnay. The region also produces Cabernet Sauvignon, Gewürztraminer, Müller-Thurgau, Sémillon, and Zinfandel grapes, but in far smaller quantities.

The region is divided into four subordinate AVAs: Dundee Hills AVA, McMinnville AVA, Ribbon Ridge AVA, and the Yamhill-Carlton District AVA. Two more AVA applications are pending. In addition, many wine connoisseurs further divide the Willamette Valley into northern and southern regions approximately at the latitude of Salem.

The Southern Oregon AVA is an AVA which was formed as the union of two existing AVAs—the Rogue Valley AVA and the Umpqua Valley AVA. (A small strip of connecting territory is included in the Southern Oregon AVA to make it a contiguous region; however, this strip passes through mountains regions not suitable for vineyards.) This AVA was established in 2004 to allow the two principal regions in Southern Oregon to jointly market themselves. As the Rogue Valley and Umpqua Valley regions produce different grapes and different varietals, they are examined separately.

The Umpqua Valley AVA contains the drainage basin of the Umpqua River, excluding mountainous regions. The Umpqua Valley has a warmer climate than the Willamette Valley, but is cooler than the Rogue Valley to the south. Grapes grown here include Pinot Noir, with smaller amounts of Pinot Gris, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, and Riesling, as well as several French-American hybrids. The region includes one sub-AVA, the Red Hill Douglas County, Oregon AVA.

The Rogue Valley AVA includes the drainage basin of the Rogue River and several tributaries, including the Illinois River, the Applegate River, and Bear Creek. Most wineries in the region are found along one of these three tributaries, rather than along the Rogue River itself. The region is 70 miles (110 km) wide by 60 miles (100 km) long (although much of the land within the AVA is not suitable for grape cultivation); there are less than 20 wineries with only 1,100 acres (4 km2) planted. The three valleys differ greatly in terroir, with the easternmost Bear Creek valley being warmest and driest, and the westernmost Illinois River valley being coolest and wettest. Each river valley has a unique climate and grows different varieties of grapes. Overall, however, this region is the warmest and driest of Oregon's wine-growing regions. The region has one sub-AVA, the Applegate Valley AVA.

The Columbia Gorge AVA is found in the Columbia Gorge. This region straddles the Columbia River, and thus lies in both Oregon and Washington; it is made up of Hood River and Wasco counties in Oregon, and Skamania and Klickitat counties in Washington. The region lies to the east of the summits of nearby Mount Hood and Mount Adams, situated in their rain shadows; thus, the region is significantly drier than the Willamette Valley. It also exhibits significant differences in elevation due to gorge geography, and strong winds common in the area also play a factor in the region's climate. This allows a wide variety of grapes to be grown in the Columbia Gorge. The region has nearly 40 vineyards, growing a wide variety of grapes, including Syrah, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Gewürztraminer, Zinfandel, Cabernet, Pinot Gris, Riesling, and Sangiovese.

Portions of northeastern Oregon (in the vicinity of Milton-Freewater) are part of the Walla Walla Valley AVA, which was established in 1984. This appellation, which is part of the Columbia Valley AVA, lies primarily within Washington state. This region has nearly 100 wineries and 1,200 acres (5 km2) planted. Wines grown in the valley include Syrah, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon, as well as Sangiovese and a few exotic varietals including Counoise, Carmenère, Mourvèdre, Cabernet Franc, Nebbiolo and Barbera.

A new viticultural area along the Snake River was established on April 9, 2007. Principally located in Idaho, the area also encompasses two large counties in Eastern Oregon, Baker County and Malheur County. The region's climate is unique among AVAs in Oregon; the average temperature is relatively cool and rainfall is low, creating a shorter growing season. Current production is led by hardy grapes such as Riesling, Gewürztraminer, and Chardonnay. The climate also lends itself extremely well to the production of ice wine. However, the AVA is quite large and warmer microclimates within the area can also support different types of grapes such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.

With the continuing improvement in the region's winemaking reputation, wine tourism in Oregon has become a significant industry in its own right. On-site sales are becoming an increasingly important part of the business of Oregon winemaking, and other businesses which cater to wine tourists, such as lodging, fine restaurants, art gallerys, have been appearing in places like Dundee, many of which have long been rural farming communities. Wine festivals and tastings are commonplace. It is estimated that wine tourism contributed USD $92 million to the state economy in 2004, excluding sales at wineries and tasting rooms. There are approximately 1.48 million visits to Oregon wineries each year, 49% by Oregonians and 51% from out of state visitors. Major events which draw significant numbers of tourists to wine country include the International Pinot Noir Celebration and the Oregon Pinot Camp.

Facilities for wine tourists in Oregon are considered underdeveloped compared to wine regions in California, especially premium growing regions like the Napa Valley AVA. Only 5% of overnight leisure trips in the state involve visits to wineries, a much smaller figure than comparable Californian growing regions which range from 10%–25%. Oregon lacks many accommodations found in wine growing regions in other states such as luxury hotels, resorts, and other attractions suitable for well-heeled tourists. As of August 2006, a resort hotel is being planned in Dundee, which would be located near notable wineries such as Domaine Drouhin Oregon. A local developer and businessman has proposed construction of a 50-room hotel, spa and restaurant in the Dundee Hills region, but has met with opposition from many notable vintners, including David Lett, who fear that such a development would dramatically alter the landscape of the region. Concern has also been raised by vintners that the proposed site is on prime growing land that should be used for wine production rather than a resort hotel.

The increase in winery-related tourism, as well as the presence of a casino in the Willamette Valley, has greatly impacted the region's transportation infrastructure. Oregon Route 99W, the highway which runs through the heart of Willamette Valley wine country (and which is the main street in towns such as Newberg and Dundee), is plagued with frequent traffic jams. Plans to construct a freeway bypass around Newberg and Dundee (avoiding the prime growing areas in the hills) are in motion, but are highly controversial. Currently, construction of the highway project is unfunded, and the Oregon Department of Transportation has proposed making the new bypass a toll road, highly unusual for Oregon. Tolls have also been proposed on the existing route of OR 99W, in addition to the new bypass. This proposal has proven to be highly controversial, with many local residents opposing the plan, primarily due to potential negative effects on businesses located on 99W and a general aversion to tolling existing roads.

Oregon wines have won several major awards, and/or been praised by notable wine critics.

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Champagne (wine region)

Pinot Noir grapes

The Champagne wine region (archaic English: Champany) is a historic province within the Champagne administrative province in the northeast of France. The area is best known for the production of the sparkling white wine that bears the region's name. EU law and the laws of most countries reserve the term "Champagne" exclusively for wines that come from this region located about 100 miles (160 km) east of Paris. The viticultural boundaries of Champagne are legally defined and split into five wine producing districts within the administrative province-the Aube, Côte des Blancs, Côte de Sézanne, Montagne de Reims, and Vallée de la Marne. The towns of Reims and Épernay are the commercial centers of the area.

Located at the northern edges of the wine growing world, the history of the Champagne wine region has had a significant role in the development of this unique terroir. The area's close proximity to Paris promoted the regions economic success in its wine trade but also put the villages and vineyards in the path of marching armies on their way to the French capital. Despite the frequency of these military conflict, the regions developed a reputation for quality wine production in the early Middle Ages and was able to continue that reputation as the region's producers began making sparkling wine with the advent of the great Champagne houses in the 17th & 18th century. The principal grapes grown in the region include Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier. Pinot Noir is the most widely planted grape in the Aube region and grows very well in Montagne de Reims. Pinot Meunier is the dominant grape in the Vallée de la Marne region. The Côte des Blancs is dedicated almost exclusively to Chardonnay.

The Champagne province is located near the northern limits of the wine world along the 49th parallel. The high latitude and mean annual temperature of 10 °C (50 °F) creates a difficult environment for wine grapes to fully ripen. Ripening is aided by the presence of forests which helps to stabilize temperatures and maintain moisture in the soil. The cool temperatures serve to produce high levels of acidity in the resulting grape which is ideal for sparkling wine.

During the growing season, the mean July temperature is 18 °C (66 °F). The average annual rainfall is 630 mm (25 inches), with 45 mm (1.8 inches) falling during the harvest month of September. Throughout the year, growers must be mindful of the hazards of fungal disease and early spring frost.

Ancient oceans left behind chalk subsoil deposits when they receded 70 million years ago. Earthquakes that rocked the region over 10 million years ago pushed the marine sediments of belemnite fossils up to the surface to create the belemnite chalk terrain. The belemnite in the soil allows it to absorb heat from the sun and gradually release it during the night as well as providing good drainage. This soil contributes to the lightness and finesse that is characteristics of Champagne wine. The Aube area is an exception with predominately clay based soil. The chalk is also used in the construction of underground cellars that can keep the wines cool through the bottle maturation process.

The Carolingian reign saw periods or prosperity for the Champagne region beginning with Charlemagne's encouragement for the area to start planting vines and continuing with the coronation of his son Louis the Pious at Reims. The tradition of crowning kings at Reims contributed to the reputation of the wines that came from this area. The Counts of Champagne ruled the area as an independent county from 950 to 1316. In 1314, the last Count of Champagne assumed the throne as King Louis X of France and the region became part of the Crown territories.

The location of Champagne played a large role in its historical prominence as it served as a "crossroads" for both military and trade routes. This also made the area open to devastation and destruction during military conflicts that were frequently waged in the area. In 451 A.D. near Châlons-en-Champagne Attila and the Huns were defeated by an alliance of Roman legions, Franks and Visigoths. This defeat was a turning point in the Huns' invasion of Europe.

During the Hundred Years' War, the land was repeatedly ravaged and devastated by battles. The Abbey of Hautvillers, including its vineyards, was destroyed in 1560 during the War of Religion between the Huguenots and Catholics. This was followed by conflicts during the Thirty Year War and the Fronde Civil War where soldiers and mercenaries held the area in occupation. It was not until the 1660s, during the reign of Louis XIV, that the region saw enough peace to allow advances in sparkling wine production to take place.

The region's reputation for wine production dates back to the Middle Ages when Pope Urban II, a native Champenois, declared that the wine of Aÿ in the Marne département was the best wine produced in the world. For a time Aÿ was used as a shorthand designation for wines from the entire Champagne region, similar to the use of Beaune for the wines of Burgundy. The poet Henry d'Andeli's work La Bataille des Vins rated wines from the towns of Épernay, Hautvillers and Reims as some of the best in Europe. As the region's reputation grew, popes and royalty sought to own pieces of the land with Pope Leo X, Francis I of France, Charles V of Spain, and Henry VIII of England all owning vineyard land in the region. A batch of wine from Aÿ received in 1518 by Henry VIII's chancellor, Thomas Cardinal Wolsey, is the first recorded export of wine from the Champagne region to England.

The still wines of the area were highly prized in Paris under the designation of vins de la rivière and vins de la montagne- wines of the river and wines of the mountain in reference to the wooded terrain and the river Marne which carried the wines down to the Seine and into Paris. The region was in competition with Burgundy for the Flemish wine trade and tried to capitalize on Reims' location along the trade route from Beaune. In the 15th century, Pinot Noir became heavily planted in the area. The resulting red wine had difficulty comparing well to the richness and coloring of Burgundy wines, despite the addition of elderberries to deepen the color. This led to a greater focus on white wines.

The Champagne house of Gosset was founded as a still wine producer in 1584 and is the oldest Champagne house still in operation today. Ruinart was founded in 1729 and was soon followed by Taittinger (1734), Moët et Chandon (1743) and Veuve Clicquot (1772).

The nineteenth century saw an explosive growth in champagne production going from a regional production of 300,000 bottles a year in 1800 to 20 million bottles in 1850.

A strong influence on Champagne wine production was the centuries old rivalry between the region and Burgundy. From the key market of Paris to the palace of Louis XIV of France at Versailles, proponents of Champagne and Burgundy would compete for dominance. For most of his life, Louis XIV would drink only Champagne wine with the support of his doctor Antoine d'Aquin who advocated the King drink champagne with every meal for the benefit of his health. As the King aged and his ailments increased, competing doctors would propose alternative treatments with alternative wines, to sooth the King's ills. One of these doctors, Guy-Crescent Fagon conspired with the King's mistress to oust d'Aquin and have himself appointed as Royal Doctor. Fagon quickly attributed the King's continuing ailments to champagne and ordered that only Burgundy wine must be served at the royal table.

This development had a ripple effect throughout both regions and in the Paris markets. Both Champagne and Burgundy were deeply concerned with the "healthiness" reputation of their wines, even to the extent of paying medical students to write theses touting the health benefit of their wines. These theses were then used as advertising pamphlets that were sent to merchants and customers. The Faculty of Medicine in Reims published several papers to refute Fagon's claim that Burgundy wine was healthier than champagne. In response, Burgundian winemakers hired physician Jean-Baptiste de Salins, dean of the medical school in Beaune, to speak to a packed auditorium at the Paris Faculty of Medicine. Salins spoke favorably of Burgundy wine's deep color and robust nature and compared it to the pale red color of Champagne and the "instability" of the wine to travel long distances and the flaws of the bubbles from when secondary fermentation would take place. The text of his speech was published in newspapers and pamphlets throughout France and had a damaging effect on champagne sales.

The war of words would continue for another 130 years with endless commentary from doctors, poets, playwrights and authors all arguing for their favorite region and their polemics being reproduce in advertisements for Burgundy and Champagne. On a few occasion, the two regions were on the brink of civil war. A turning point occurred when several Champagne wine makers abandoned efforts to produce red wine in favor of focusing on harnessing the effervescent nature of sparkling champagne. As the bubbles became more popular, doctors throughout France and Europe commented on the health benefits of the sparkling bubbles which were said to cure malaria. As more Champenois winemakers embarked on this new and completely different wine style, the rivalry with Burgundy mellowed and eventually waned.

In 1927, viticultural boundaries of Champagne were legally defined and split into five wine producing districts-the Aube, Côte des Blancs, Côte de Sézanne, Montagne de Reims, and Vallée de la Marne. This area covers 33,500 hectares (76,000 acres) of vineyards around 319 villages that are home to 5,000 growers who make their own wine and 14,000 growers who only sell grapes. The region is set to expand to include 359 villages in the near future.

The different districts produce grapes of varying characteristics that are blended by the champagne houses to create their distinct house styles. The Pinots of the Montagne de Reims that are planted on northern facing slopes are known for their high levels of acid and the delicacy they add to the blend. The grapes on the southern facing slope add more power and character. Grapes across the district contribute to the bouquet and headiness. The abundance of southern facing slopes in the Vallée de la Marne produces the ripest wines with full aroma. The Côte des Blancs grapes are known for their finesse and the freshness they add to blends with the extension of the nearby Côte de Sézanne offering similar though slightly less distinguished traits.

In 1942, the Comité Interprofessionnel du Vin de Champagne (CIVC) was formed with the purpose of protecting Champagne's reputation and marketing forces as well as setting up and monitoring regulations for vineyard production and vinification methods. Champagne is the only region that is permitted to exclude AOC or Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée from their labels.

For each vintage, the CIVC rated the villages of the area based on the quality of their grapes and vineyards. The rating was then used to determine the price and the percentage of the price that growers get. The Grand Cru rated vineyards received 100 percent rating which entitled the grower to 100% of the price. Premier Crus were vineyards with 90–99% ratings while Deuxième Crus received 80–89% ratings. Under appellation rules, around 4,000 kilograms (8,800 pounds) of grapes can be pressed to create up to 673 gallons (either 2,550 L or 3,060 L) of juice. The first 541 gallons (either 2,050 L or 2,460 L) are the cuvée and the next 132 gallons (either 500 L or 600 L) are the taille. Prior to 1992, a second taille of 44 gallons (either 167 L or 200 L)was previously allowed. For vintage champagne, 100% of the grapes must come from that vintage year while non-vintage wine is a blend of vintages. Vintage champagne must spend a minimum three years on its lees with some of premier champagne houses keeping their wines on lines for upwards of five to ten years. Non-vintage champagne must spend a minimum of 15 months on the lees.

The worldwide demand for Champagne has been continuously increasing throughout the 1990s and early 2000s. A record in worldwide shipping of Champagne (including domestic French consumption) of 327 million bottles was set in 1999 in anticipation of end of millennium celebrations, and a new record was set in 2007 at 338.7 million bottles. Since the entire vineyard area authorized by the 1927 AOC regulations is now planted, various ways of expanding the production has been considered. The allowed yield was increased (to a maximum of 15,500 kg per hectare during an experimental period from 2007 to 2011) and the possibility of revising the production region was investigated.

After an extensive review of vineyard conditions in and around the existing Champagne region, INAO presented a proposal to revise the region on March 14, 2008. The proposal was prepared by a group of five experts in the subjects of history, geography, geology, phytosociology and agronomy, working from 2005. The proposal means expanding the region to cover vineyards in 357 rather than 319 villages. This is to be achieved by adding vineyards in forty villages while simultaneously removing two villages in the Marne départment that were included in the 1927 regulations, Germaine and Orbais-l'Abbaye.

The INAO proposal was be subject to review before it is made into law and was immediately questioned in numerous public comments. The mayor of one the villages to be delisted, Germaine, immediately appealed against INAO's proposal, with the possibility of additional appeals by vineyard owners. The initial review process is expected to be finished by early 2009. This will be followed by another review of the specific parcels that will be added or deleted from the appellation. The earliest vineyard plantings are expected around 2015, with their product being marketed from around 2021. However, the price of land that are allowed to be used for Champagne production is expected to immediately rise from 5,000 to one million euro per hectare.

While some critics have feared the revision of the Champagne region is about expanding production irrespective of quality, British wine writer and Champagne expert Tom Stevenson has pointed out that the proposed additions constitute a consolidation rather than expansion. The villages under discussion are situated in gaps inside the perimeter of the existing Champagne regions rather than outside it.

While totally dominating the region's production, sparkling Champagne is not the only product that is made from the region's grapes. Non-sparkling still wines, like those made around the village Bouzy, are sold under the appellation label Coteaux Champenois. There is also a rosé appellation in the region, Rosé des Riceys. The regional vin de liqueur is called Ratafia de Champagne. Since the profit of making sparkling Champagne from the region's grape is now much higher, production of these non-sparkling wines and fortified wines is very small.

The pomace from the grape pressing is used to make Marc de Champagne, and in this case the production does not compete with that of Champagne, since the pomace is a by-product of wine production.

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German wine

German wine from Franken in the characteristic round bottles (Bocksbeutel)

German wine is primarily produced in the southwest of Germany, along river Rhine and its tributaries, with the oldest plantations going back to the Roman era. Approximately 60 per cent of the German wine production is situated in the federal state of Rhineland-Palatinate, where 6 of the 13 regions (Anbaugebiete) for quality wine are situated. Germany has about 102,000 hectares (252,000 acres or 1,020 square kilometers) of vineyard, which is around one tenth of the vineyard surface in Spain, France or Italy. The total wine production is usually around 9 million hectoliters annually, corresponding to 1.2 billion bottles, which places Germany as the eighth largest wine-producing country in the world. White wine accounts for almost two thirds of the total production.

As a wine country, Germany has a mixed reputation internationally, with some consumers on the export markets associating Germany with the world's most elegant and aromatically pure white wines while other see the country mainly as the source of cheap, mass-market semi-sweet wines such as Liebfraumilch. Among enthusiasts, Germany's reputation is primarily based on wines made from the Riesling grape variety, which at its best is used for aromatic, fruity and elegant white wines that range from very crisp and dry to well-balanced, sweet and of enormous aromatic concentration. While primarily a white wine country, red wine production surged in the 1990s and early 2000s, primarily fuelled by domestic demand, and the proportion of the German vineyards devoted to the cultivation of dark-skinned grape varieties has now stabilized at slightly more than a third of the total surface. For the red wines, Spätburgunder, the domestic name for Pinot Noir, is in the lead.

Germany produces wines in many styles: dry, semi-sweet and sweet white wines, rosé wines, red wines and sparkling wines, called Sekt. (The only wine style not commonly produced is fortified wine.) Due to the northerly location of the German vineyards, the country has produced wines quite unlike any others in Europe, many of outstanding quality. Despite this it is still better known abroad for cheap, sweet or semi-sweet, low-quality mass-produced wines such as Liebfraumilch.

The wines have historically been predominantly white, and the finest made from Riesling. Many wines have been sweet and low in alcohol, light and unoaked. Historically many of the wines (other than late harvest wines) were probably dry (trocken), as techniques to stop fermentation did not exist. Recently much more German white wine is being made in the dry style again. Much of the wine sold in Germany is dry, especially in restaurants. However most exports are still of sweet wines, particularly to the traditional export markets such as Great Britain, which is the leading export market both in terms of volume and value. The United States (second in value, third in volume) and the Netherlands (second in volume, third in value) are two other important export markets for German wine.

Red wine has always been hard to produce in the German climate, and in the past was usually light coloured, closer to rosé or the red wines of Alsace. However recently there has been greatly increased demand and darker, richer red wines (often barrique aged) are produced from grapes such as Dornfelder and Spätburgunder, the German name for pinot noir.

Perhaps the most distinctive characteristic of German wines is the high level of acidity in them, caused both by the lesser ripeness in a northerly climate and by the selection of grapes such as riesling which retain acidity even at high ripeness levels.

Viticulture in present-day Germany dates back to Ancient Roman times, to sometime from the 1st to the 4th century AD. In those days, the western parts of today's Germany made up the outpost of the Roman empire against the Germanic tribes on the other side of Rhine. What is generally considered to be Germany's oldest city, Trier, was founded as a Roman garrison and is situated directly on the river Moselle (Mosel) in the eponymous wine region. The oldest archeological finds that may indicate early German viticulture are curved pruning knives found in the vicinity of Roman garrisons, dating from the 1st century AD. However, it is not absolutely certain that these knives were used for viticultural purposes. Emperor Probus, whose reign can be dated two centuries later than these knives, is generally considered the founder of German viticulture, but for solid documentation of winemaking on German soil, we must go to around 370 AD, when Ausonius of Bordeaux wrote Mosella, where he in entusiastic terms described the steep vineyards on river Moselle.

The wild vine, the forerunner of the cultivated Vitis vinifera is known to have grown on upper Rhine back to historic time, and it is possible (but not documented) that Roman-era German viticulture was started using local varieties. Many viticultural practices were however taken from other parts of the Roman empire, as evidenced by Roman-style trellising systems surviving into the 18th century in some parts of Germany, such as the Kammerbau in the Palatinate.

Almost nothing is known of the style or quality of "German" wines that were produced in the Roman era, with the exception of the fact that the poet Venantius Fortunatus mentions red German wine around AD 570.

Before the era of Charlemagne, Germanic viticulture was practiced primarily, although not exclusively, on the western side of Rhine. Charlemagne is supposed to have brought viticulture to Rheingau. The eastward spread of viticulture coincided with the spead of Christianity, which was supported by Charlemagne. Thus, in Medieval Germany, churches and monasteries played the most important role in viticulture, and especially in the production of quality wine. Two Rheingau examples illustrate this: archbishop Ruthard of Mainz (reigning 1089-1109) founded a Benedictine abbey on slopes above Geisenheim, the ground of which later became Schloss Johannisberg. His successor Adalbert of Mainz donated land above Hattenheim in 1135 to Cistercians, sent out from Clairvaux in Champagne, who founded Kloster Eberbach.

Many grape varieties commonly associated with German wines have been documented back to the 14th or 15th century. Riesling has been documented from 1435 (close to Rheingau), and Pinot Noir from 1318 on Lake Constance under the name Klebroth, from 1335 in Affenthal in Baden and from 1470 in Rheingau, where the monks kept a Clebroit-Wyngart in Hattenheim. The most grown variety in medieval Germany was however Elbling, with Silvaner also being common, and Muscat, Räuschling and Traminer also being recorded.

For several centuries of the Medieval era, the vineyards of Germany (including Alsace) expanded, and is believed to have reached their greatest extent sometime around 1500, when perhaps as much as four times the present vineyard surface was planted. Basically, the wine regions were located in the same places as today, but more lands around the rivers, and land further upstream Rhine's tributaries, was cultivated. The subsequent decline can be attributed to locally produced beer becoming the everyday beverage in northern Germany in the 16th century, leading to a partial loss of market for wine, and to the Thirty Years' War ravaging Germany in the 17th century.

At one point the Church controlled most of the major vineyards in Germany. Quality instead of quantity become important and spread quickly down the river Rhine. The Development ended when Martin Luther's activities initiated revolts leading to the death of millions and affecting culture for centuries. In the 1800s Napoleon took control of all the vineyards from the Church, including the best, and divided and secularized them. Since then the Napoleonic inheritance laws in Germany broke up the parcels of vineyards further, leading to the establishment of many cooperatives. However, there are a great deal of notable and world famous wineries in Germany, who have managed to acquire or hold enough land to produce enough wine not only for domestic consumption, but also for export.

An important event took place in 1775 at Schloss Johannisberg in Rheingau, when the courier delivering the harvest permission was delayed for two weeks, with the result that most of the grapes in Johannisberg's Riesling-only vineyard had been affected by noble rot before the harvest began. Unexpectedly, these "rotten grapes" gave a very good sweet wine, which was termed Spätlese, meaning late harvest. From this time, late harvest wines from grapes affected by noble rot have been produced intentionally. The subsequent differentiation of these late harvest wines into additional categories, starting with Auslese in 1787, laid the ground for the Prädikat system.

Most of the present German wine law was introduced in 1971, and definied the Prädikat designations as they have been since then.

The German wine regions are some of the most northerly in the world. The main wine-producing climate lies below the 50th parallel, which runs through the regions Rheingau and Mosel. Above this line the climate becomes less conducive to wine production, but there are still some vineyards above this line.

Because of the northerly climate, there has been a search for suitable grape varieties (particularly frost resistant and early harvesting ones), and many crosses have been developed, such as Müller-Thurgau in the Geisenheim Grape Breeding Institute. Recently there has been an increase in plantings of Resling as local and international demand has been demanding high quality wines.

The wines are all produced around rivers, mainly the Rhine and its tributaries, often sheltered by mountains. The rivers have significant microclimate effects to moderate the temperature. The soil is slate to absorb the sun's heat and retain it overnight. The great sites are often extremely steep so they catch the most sunlight, but they are difficult to harvest mechanically. The slopes are also positioned facing the south or south-west to angle towards the sun.

The vineyards are extremely small compared to new world vineyards. This makes the lists of wines produced long and complex, and many wines hard to obtain as production is so limited.

The wine regions in Germany usually referred to are the 13 defined regions for quality wine. The German wine industry has organised itself around these regions and their division into districts. However, there are also a number of regions for the seldomly-exported table wine (Tafelwein) and country wine (Landwein) categories. Those regions with a few exceptions overlap with the quality wine regions. In order to make a clear distinction between the quality levels, the regions and subregions for different quality level have different names on purpose, even when they are allowed to be produced in the same geographical area.

These 13 regions (Anbaugebiete) are broken down into 39 districts (Bereiche) which are further broken down into collective vineyard sites (Großlagen) of which there are 167. The individual vineyard sites (Einzellagen) number 2,658.

Overall nearly 135 grape varieties may be cultivated in Germany - 100 are released for white wine production and 35 for red wine production. According to the international image, Germany is still regarded to be a region for white wine production. Since the 1980s the demand for German red wine has constantly increased and this has resulted in a doubling of the vineyards assigned for the production of red wine. Nowadays over 35% of the vineyards are cultivated with red grapes. Some of the red grapes are also used to produce Rosé.

Out of all the grape varieties listed below, only 20 have a significant market share.

During the last century several changes have taken place with respect to the most planted varieties. Until the early 20th century, Elbling was Germany's most planted variety, after which it was eclipsed by Silvaner during the middle of the 20th century. After a few decades in the top spot, in the late 1960s Silvaner was overtaken by the high-yielding Müller-Thurgau, which in turn started to lose ground in the 1980s. From the mid-1990s, Riesling became the most planted variety, a position which it probably had never enjoyed before on a national level. Red grapes in Germany have experienced several ups and downs. Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, there was a downward trend, which was reversed around 1980. From mid-1990s and during the next decade, there was an almost explosive growth of plantation of red varieties. Plantings was shared between traditional Spätburgunder and a number of new crossings, led by Dornfelder, while other traditional German red varieties such as Portugieser only held their ground. From around 2005, the proportion of red varieties has stabilized around 37%, about three times the 1980 level.

White grape varieties account for 63% of the area planted in Germany. Principal varieties are listed below; there are larger numbers of less important varieties too.

Red wine varieties account for 37% of the plantations in Germany but has increased in recent years.

According to the German wine law, the federal governments are responsible for drawing up lists of grape varieties allowed in wine production. The varieties listed below are officially released for commercial cultivation. The lists include varieties only released for selected experimental cultivation.

Many of the best vineyards in Germany are steep vineyards overlooking rivers, where mechanisation is impossible and a lot of manual labour is needed to produce the wine.

Since it can be difficult to get ripe grapes in such a northernly location as Germany, the sugar maturity of grapes (must weight) as measured by the Oechsle scale have played a great role in Germany.

German vintners on average crop their vineyards quite high, with yields averaging around 90 hl/ha, a high figure in international comparison. "New" crossings used for low-quality white wine commonly yield 150-200 hl/ha, while quality-conscious producers who strive to produce well-balanced wines of concentrated flavours will rarely exceed 50 hl/ha.

Many wines in Germany are produced using organic farming or biodynamic methods.

Chaptalization is allowed only up to the QbA level, not for Prädikatswein and all wines must be fermented dry if chaptalised. In order to balance the wine, unfermented grape juice, called Süssreserve, may be added after fermentation.

German wine classification is sometimes the source of confusion, especially to non-German speakers. However, to those familiar with the terms used, a German wine label reveals much information about the quality level and dryness/sweetness of the wine.

In addition, wines are classified by the Verband Deutscher Prädikatswein (VDP). Top wines are classified according to region and the very best vineyards.

On wine labels, German wine may be classified according to the residual sugar of the wine. Trocken refers to dry wine. These wines have less than 9 grams/liter of residual sugar. These bottles are usually identified by a yellow-coloured capsule. Halbtrocken wines are off-dry and have 9-18 grams/liter of residual sugar. Due to the high acidity ("crispness") of many German wines, the taste profile of many halbtrocken wines fall within the "internationally dry" spectrum rather than being appreciably sweet. "Feinherb" wine are slightly more sweet than halbtrocken wines.

There are also several terms to identify the grower and producers of the wine.

If the suffix "-er" appears after the name of the town, the wine comes from a particular vineyard located in that town.

The German wine industry consists of many small vineyard owners. The 1999 viticultural survey counted 68 598 vineyard owners, down from 76 683 in Western Germany in 1989/90, for an average size of 1.5 ha. Most of the 40 625 operators of less than 0.5 ha should likely be classified as hobby vintners. Many smaller vineyard owners do not pursue viticulture as a full-time occupation, but rather as a supplement to other agriculture or to hospitality. It is not uncommon for a visitor to a German wine region to find that a small family-owned Gasthaus has its own wine. Smaller grape-growers who do not wish or are able to commercialise their own wine have several options available: sell the grapes (either on the market each harvest year, or on long-term contract with larger wineries looking to supplement their own production), deliver the grapes to a wine-making cooperative (called Winzergenossenschaft in Germany), or sell the wine in bulk to winemaking firms which use them in "bulk brands" or as a base wine for Sekt. Those who own vineyards in truly good locations also have the option of renting them out to larger producers who will handle the entire operation of the vineyard.

5 892 vineyard owners owned more than 5 ha each in 1999, accounting for 57% of Germany's total vineyard surface, and it is in this category that the full-time vintners and commercial operations are primarily found. However, truly large wineries, in terms of their own vineyard holdings, are rare in Germany. Hardly any German wineries reach the size of New World winemaking companies, and only a few are of the same size as a typical Bordeaux Grand Cru Classé château. Of the ten wineries considered as Germany's best by Gault Millau Weinguide in 2007, nine had 10,2 — 19 ha of vineyards, and one (Weingut Robert Weil, owned by Suntory) had 70 ha. This means that most of the high-ranking German wineries each only produces around 100,000 bottles of wine per year. That production is often distributed over, say, 10-25 different wines from different vineyards, of different Prädikat, sweetness and so on. The largest vineyard owner is the Hessian State Wineries (Hessische Staatsweingüter), owned by the federal state of Hesse, with 200 ha vineyards, the produce of which is vinified in three separate wineries. The largest privately held winery is Dr. Bürklin-Wolf in the Palatinate with 85,5 ha.

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Source : Wikipedia