The Rheingau is one of the smallest, and yet one of the most celebrated of Germany's thirteen wine regions. Riesling is by far the most important varietal produced. Focusing on quality, roughly eighty percent of the vineyards here are devoted to the varietal. Some of the most reputed are found on the steep, southern facing slopes overlooking the Rhine River below, where they benefit from the sun's warming rays reflected from the river as well as protection from the chilling northern winds.
You will have the opportunity to taste the full expression of the Riesling varietal, from the balanced acidity and minerality of their full-bodied dry versions to the sweeter Spätlese and Auslese options.
The first winery you will be visiting today is Robert Weil. Founded in 1875, it is considered one of Germany's "Great Growth" wine producers. The entire estate is devoted to meticulously growing the Riesling varietal. The grapes remain on the vine well into October, with the harvest period usually lasting ten weeks or longer. As many as seventeen passes of selective hand harvesting are carried out through the vineyards, collecting all Riesling classification levels right up to Trackenbeerenauslese. Now in its fourth generation, you will have a chance to taste their highly rated vintages.
Next visit the world's oldest Riesling producer, Schloss Johannisberg, with over 1,200 years of recorded viticultural history. It was also the first vintner in Germany to produce botrytized wines and help establish the Spätlese harvest practices central to the Rheingau's reputation. Tour the historic grounds, including the original monastic cellar and the Bibliotheca subterranea - an underground museum containing centuries-old wine related artifacts. Afterwards, enjoy a traditional picnic in the vineyard served with a selection of their best wines.