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Germany’s Vineyard Area 2004

Size of Germany’s Vineyard Area Remains Constant 

Kaiserstuhl, Baden

Plantings of Red Wine Grapes Still on the Rise

Newest figures from the German Federal Office of Statistics show that in 2004, grapes were cultivated on 102,240 hectares (252,635 acres) in Germany. In commenting on the figures, the managing director of the German Wine Institute (Mainz/Germany), Armin Göring, remarked: "Compared with 2003, this reflects a minimal decrease of 0.2% of our total vineyard area. There really was very little change."

"For the most part, the slight decrease can be attributed to ongoing structural changes in the Mosel-Saar-Ruwer region. In 2004, its vineyard area comprised 9,266 ha (22,896 acres), down 267 ha (660 acres). Ten years ago there were still 12,720 ha (31,431 acres) of vines, or 28% more than today. Nevertheless, the vineyards of growers who retire without a successor are almost always completely taken over by growing and ambitious wineries. As such, Germany’s overall vineyard area has remained fairly constant for years," according to Göring.

Sachsen’s vineyard area decreased by 30 ha (74 acres) in 2004, leaving the region with 416 ha (1,028 acres) of vines and thus, it is the smallest of Germany’s 13 wine-growing regions. Rheinhessen continues to be the largest, with 26,177 ha (64,683 acres), or six ha (15 acres) more than the year before. The Pfalz gained 19 ha (47 acres) and now has 23,413 ha (57,854 acres). These two largest regions account for 48.5% of the total area devoted to viticulture in Germany.

Ongoing Increase in Acreage of Red Wine Grapes

During the past decade, there has been a steady increase in plantings of red wine grapes and the figures for 2004 confirm that the trend continues. In the meantime, red wine grapes are grown in 36% (+2%) of Germany’s total vineyard area. New plantings alone accounted for 2,025 ha (5,004 acres) in 2004.

The largest increases were registered in Rheinhessen (+774 ha/1,913 acres), the Pfalz (+531 ha/1,312 acres), and Baden (+227 ha/561 acres). The regions with the highest proportion of red wine grapes are the Ahr (88%) and Württemberg (70%). In terms of absolute numbers, the Pfalz boasts the largest acreage devoted to red wine grapes (9,373 ha/23,161 acres), and Rheinhessen (8,319 ha/20,556 acres) moved into second place, having overtaken Württemberg (8,081 ha/19,968 acres) in 2004.

Since 1994, the acreage of red wine grapes has grown from 19,734 ha (48,763 acres) to 36,852 ha (91,061 acres). Armin Göring sees this development as being a logical response to the changing habits of German consumers, who have continually increased their red wine consumption in the past few years. In the meantime, some 60% of all wines purchased in Germany are made from red wine grapes, ca. 52% of which is red wine and 8% rosé.

The winner among new red plantings in 2004 was the relatively new grape variety Regent, with 648 ha (1,601 acres). Bred in the Pfalz in 1967, it was approved as a permitted varietal in 1994. In the decade since, 2,037 ha (5,033 acres) have been planted throughout Germany’s wine regions. The  crossing is prized for its fungus resistance (and thus, ecological and economic benefits) and its high wine quality: full-bodied red wines, with aromas of black cherry or black currant, and a not-too-astringent finish.

Compared with recent years, new plantings of Dornfelder are slowing down: the 514 ha (1,270 acres) planted in 2004 – half of which were in Rheinhessen – bring the total to 8,200 ha (20,262 acres).

Spätburgunder (Pinot Noir) remains Germany’s most important red variety. With an additional 349 ha (862 acres) planted in 2004, it accounts for 11% of the country’s total vineyard area, ranking third (in terms of area) after Riesling (20%) and Rivaner (15%).

Photograph ©, source: DWI
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