Germany smallest wine region -Hessische Bergstraße overview

Hessische Bergstraße

I have a great love for the little region of Hessische Bergstraße. It lies on the eastern side of the Rhein River across from the Wonnegau of southern Rheinhessen. The HB competes mightily with Sachsen for the title of the smallest German Weinbaugebiet at 440 ha, and is one of only two wine-regions in the state of Hessen (along with the Rheingau.) It is a weekend paradise of hiking and bike trails and the views from the vineyards are some of the most beautiful in Germany with the rolling, tree covered hills topped with castles high above the historic timber-framed towns below.

Because of its size, it isn’t often a major-stop for Foreign tourists with a thirst for German wine, which is a shame. The demand for these wines from the local population and from the nearby cities of Darmstadt, Frankfurt, Mannheim and Heidelberg means that there isn’t much left for export anyway, and the small plots owned by many different feierabend winegrowers means that much of the grapes are processed through cooperatives. Still, there are exemplary producers to be found and at their best, these wines can play ball with those from other regions in Germany and the unique expressions of Riesling, Grauburgunder (Pinot Gris), Weißburgunder (Pinot Blanc) and Spätburgunder (Pinot Noir) are worth the effort to visit. The vineyards largely face south and west, giving them direct exposure to the sun at its hottest in the afternoon. Because of this, the wines are generally riper and more powerful, though because the best vineyards are at a reasonable altitude, some acidity is retained.

The soils are varied, with Granite, Sandstones, Porphyry, Limestone, Loess and Loam. The three top vineyard sites are represented below, though there are a dozen or so very fine vineyards in this small region (other examples are the Schönberger Herrnwingert for GG Weißburgunder and Zwingenberger Steingeröll for Riesling from Simon-Bürkle.)

**2010 Domaine Bergstraße (Kloster Eberbach) Bensheimer Kalkgasse Riesling Kabinett Trocken –Hessische Bergstraße, Germany 12,5% alc.**Flat out wow! This is a super Kabinett and just dry. Mineral, mineral, mineral- Long, taut, and completely devoid of aromatic pleasantry and spice accents, it is the business end of Kabinett. Pure and no nonsense. Peach, pear and chalky mineral with loads of reverb. Damn good. The Kalkgasse is a mix of Granite and limestone.

**2010 Domaine Bergstraße (Kloster Eberbach) Heppenheimer Steinkopf Riesling Spätlese Trocken –Hessische Bergstraße, Germany 11,5% alc.**Very juicy key lime and white peach fruit, almost minty with cool, clean mineral notes. A lighter-styled Spätlese with enough acidity and just the slightest hint of RS. Very good. –Sandstone soil with some iron.

**2010 Domaine Bergstraße (Kloster Eberbach) ‘Crescentia’ Heppenheimer Centgericht Riesling Spätlese Trocken –Hessische Bergstraße, Germany 12,5% alc.**Powerful and densely packed. Caramel apple, hazelnut, cinnamon, an almost gritty texture, and with a smoky minerality –that not too common for the Centgericht. Acidity is lacking and it almost goes Pinot Gris on a mofo. I’m left thinking that they may have let it go through BSA, but it’s good, especially with the Alsatian bacon and onion Tarte Flambee that we rocked tonight. Sand, Loess, Loam.


A few more from the Hessische Bergstraße:

2010 Simon-Bürkle Auerbacher Rott Grauerburgunder Spätlese Trocken -13,0% alc.

There is no doubt some very high-quality Pinot Gris to this wine. Pineapple, pears, almond, and hazelnut. Rich and creamy. My only complaint is that there is a little too much oak. Oaked Pinot Gris is a popular style in Germany often used to add distinction to riper Grauburgunder and make it a more complete wine. Personally, I could do without the wood.

Simon-Bürkle ‘Aurea’ Sekt (Spätburgunder, Chardonnay, Weißburgunder)
Very clean and very dry. Long and minerally with pear and citrus fruit. Crisp, with refreshing acidity and bountiful fizz. Good.

2009 Bergsträsser Winzer Heppenheimer Steinkopf Riesling Spätlese 9,5% alc.
Mango, Peach, rich, ripe fruit, floral and straightforward -full of savor if not especially complex. A style with plenty of residual sugar (and could in my eyes use a little more acidity.)


Over the years, I’ve seen a number of the Domän Bergstasse wines and they have always made a positive impression on me.

Hi Bill,

My interest was piqued:

Hessisiche Bergstrasse
469 ha under vine

Sachsen is Germany’s easternmost and smallest wine-growing region.
Vineyard area: 446 ha

Der Korinthenkacker. Ich. neener

Henry – where and when are your statistics from? The latest I can quickly find are from the Bundesamt via the Deutsches Wein Institut for 2008: Hessische Bergstrasse 439 ha, Mittlerhein 461 ha, Sachsen 462 ha. Not that a few ha one way or another makes much difference; they’re all small.

Hi Claude,

Hessisiche Bergstrasse
469 ha (ca. 1,030 acres) under vine

Sachsen (Saxonia)
300 ha (ca. 660 acres) under vine


As you correctly stated,
die sind doch alle klein!

Gosh - this is all so slightly interesting!

Germany - vineyard area

wine region vineyard area [ha]

Ahr 519
Baden 15.341
Franken 6. 040
Hessische Bergstraße 456
Mittelrhein 526
Mosel-Saar-Ruwer 10.392
Nahe 4.387
Pfalz 23.422
Rheingau 3.205
Rheinhessen 26.333
Saale-Unstrut 651
Sachsen 446
Württemberg 11.336
total 103.054
source: Deutscher Weinbauverband, Staatl. Weinbauinstitut Freiburg

Well, it seems to seesaw back and forth every few years. Apologies to Sachsen if they are at this moment, on top (or bottom as it were.) Areas under vine and area with the right to be planted are different too. I would be ever so slightly interested to find out which region has larger planting rights. [cheers.gif]