Ahr (wine region)
Ahr is a wine region for quality wine in Germany
German wine
German wine is primarily produced in the west of Germany, along the river Rhine and its tributaries, with the oldest plantations going back to the Roman era. Approximately 60 percent of the German wine production is situated in the federal state of Rhineland-Palatinate, where 6 of the 13 regions ...

, and is located in the valley of the river Ahr
Ahr is a river in Germany, a left tributary of the Rhine. Its source is at an elevation of approximately 470 metres above sea level in Blankenheim in the Eifel, in the cellar of a timber-frame house near the castle of Blankenheim...

, a tributary of Rhine, and is situated in the federal state of Rhineland-Palatinate
Rhineland-Palatinate is one of the 16 states of the Federal Republic of Germany. It has an area of and about four million inhabitants. The capital is Mainz. English speakers also commonly refer to the state by its German name, Rheinland-Pfalz ....

. With only 558 hectares (1,378.8 acre) of vines as of 2008, it is one of smaller of Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

's 13 regions. Despite its northern location (it is for example situated north of Mosel region) it primarily produces red wines, and red grape varieties account for 86% of the vineyard area, which is more than in any other German wine region.


It is believed that vines were cultivated in the Ahr valley already in Roman times, as is the case with nearby Mosel, although definite documentary evidence to this effect seems to be lacking. However, a property list of the Benedictine
Benedictine refers to the spirituality and consecrated life in accordance with the Rule of St Benedict, written by Benedict of Nursia in the sixth century for the cenobitic communities he founded in central Italy. The most notable of these is Monte Cassino, the first monastery founded by Benedict...

 Prüm Abbey
Prüm Abbey
Prüm Abbey is a former Benedictine abbey in Prüm/Lorraine, now in the diocese of Trier , founded by a Frankish widow Bertrada, and her son Charibert, count of Laon, on 23 June 720. The first abbot was Angloardus....

 drawn up in the year 893 AD, called the Prümer Urbar, lists vineyards in eight Ahr locations, so at least at this time, winemaking in the Ahr region was established.

Geography and climate

Situated between 50°
50th parallel north
The 50th parallel north is a circle of latitude that is 50 degrees north of the Earth's equatorial plane. It crosses Europe, Asia, the Pacific Ocean, North America, and the Atlantic Ocean....

 and 51° north
51st parallel north
The 51st parallel north is a circle of latitude that is 51 degrees north of the Earth's equatorial plane. It crosses Europe, Asia, the Pacific Ocean, North America, and the Atlantic Ocean....

, Ahr is the world's most northern region dominated by red wine grapes. So far north, very good sites with a warm microclimate are needed to properly ripen red wine grapes, and the Ahr vineyards are said to have a "Mediterranean" microclimate
A microclimate is a local atmospheric zone where the climate differs from the surrounding area. The term may refer to areas as small as a few square feet or as large as many square miles...

. Most vineyards are located on terraced slopes facing southwest to southeast along the middle and lower portions of river Ahr, over a stretch of 25 kilometers, from Altenahr
Altenahr is a municipality in the district of Ahrweiler, in Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany. It is situated on the river Ahr, in the Eifel mountains, approx. 10 km west of Bad Neuenahr-Ahrweiler....

 to the Rhine. The wine-growing parts of the Ahr valley enjoy protection from the Eifel
The Eifel is a low mountain range in western Germany and eastern Belgium. It occupies parts of southwestern North Rhine-Westphalia, northwestern Rhineland-Palatinate and the south of the German-speaking Community of Belgium....

 mountains resulting in a favoured mesoclimate.

Soils vary between slate
Slate is a fine-grained, foliated, homogeneous metamorphic rock derived from an original shale-type sedimentary rock composed of clay or volcanic ash through low-grade regional metamorphism. The result is a foliated rock in which the foliation may not correspond to the original sedimentary layering...

, basalt
Basalt is a common extrusive volcanic rock. It is usually grey to black and fine-grained due to rapid cooling of lava at the surface of a planet. It may be porphyritic containing larger crystals in a fine matrix, or vesicular, or frothy scoria. Unweathered basalt is black or grey...

 and greywacke
Greywacke or Graywacke is a variety of sandstone generally characterized by its hardness, dark color, and poorly sorted angular grains of quartz, feldspar, and small rock fragments or lithic fragments set in a compact, clay-fine matrix. It is a texturally immature sedimentary rock generally found...

Clay is a general term including many combinations of one or more clay minerals with traces of metal oxides and organic matter. Geologic clay deposits are mostly composed of phyllosilicate minerals containing variable amounts of water trapped in the mineral structure.- Formation :Clay minerals...

 of volcanic
2. Bedrock3. Conduit 4. Base5. Sill6. Dike7. Layers of ash emitted by the volcano8. Flank| 9. Layers of lava emitted by the volcano10. Throat11. Parasitic cone12. Lava flow13. Vent14. Crater15...


Ahr consists of a single district (Bereich) called Walporzheim-Ahrtal, only one collective vineyard site (Großlage) called Klosterberg, and 43 single vineyard sites.

Grape varieties

At 61.3% or 342 hectares (845.1 acre) in 2008, Ahr grows a higher proportion of the much-appreciated Spätburgunder (Pinot Noir
Pinot Noir
Pinot noir is a black wine grape variety of the species Vitis vinifera. The name may also refer to wines created predominantly from Pinot noir grapes...

) than any other German wine region. Other common grape varieties, by area of cultivation in 2008 are:
  • Portugieser, 43 ha (7.7%)
  • Riesling
    Riesling is a white grape variety which originated in the Rhine region of Germany. Riesling is an aromatic grape variety displaying flowery, almost perfumed, aromas as well as high acidity. It is used to make dry, semi-sweet, sweet and sparkling white wines. Riesling wines are usually varietally...

    , 43 ha (7.7%)
  • Frühburgunder, 35 ha (6.3%)
  • Regent
    Regent (grape)
    Regent is a dark-skinned inter-specific hybrid grape variety, used for making wine. It has both European and American vine species in its pedigree and a broad resistance against the most significant fungal diseases which affect grapes, such as downy mildew.Regent was created in 1967 by Professor...

    , 19 ha (3.4%)
  • Dornfelder
    Dornfelder is a dark-skinned variety of grape of German origin used for red wine. It was created by August Herold at the grape breeding institute in Weinsberg in the Württemberg region in 1955. Herold crossed the grape varieties Helfensteiner and Heroldrebe, the latter which bears his name, to...

    , 19 ha (3.4%)
  • Müller-Thurgau
    Müller-Thurgau is a variety of white grape which was created by Hermann Müller from the Swiss Canton of Thurgau in 1882. It is a crossing of Riesling with Madeleine Royale. It is used to make white wine in Germany, Austria, Northern Italy, Hungary, England, in Australia, Czech Republic, Slovakia,...

    , 15 ha (2.7%)
  • Domina
    Domina (grape)
    Domina is a dark-skinned variety of grape used for red wine. It was created by Germanviticulturalist Peter Morio at the Geilweilerhof Institute for Grape Breeding in the Palatinate in 1927 by crossing the varieties Blauer Portugieser and Pinot Noir .Work on the variety was the continued by Bernhard...

    , 10 ha (1.8%)

Wine style

While Ahr primarily grew red wine before the current red wine trend in Germany, until the 1980s the wines were almost invariably very light-coloured, bordering on rosé, and often were significantly sweet. While this style of wine was perhaps rather unimpressive by international standards, Ahr could rely on its vicinity to the populous Ruhr Area
Ruhr Area
The Ruhr, by German-speaking geographers and historians more accurately called Ruhr district or Ruhr region , is an urban area in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. With 4435 km² and a population of some 5.2 million , it is the largest urban agglomeration in Germany...

 to sell its small production to weekend tourists. In the 1980s, Werner Näkel  of Weingut Meyer-Näkel started to experiment with extended maceration
Maceration (wine)
Maceration is the winemaking process where the phenolic materials of the grape— tannins, coloring agents and flavor compounds— are leached from the grape skins, seeds and stems into the must. Maceration is the process by which the red wine receives its red color, since 99% of all grape juice is...

 and a significant influence of oak, which then was a style of red wine which hardly existed in Germany. After his wines won their first award in 1989, his style was followed by many other Ahr wineries as well as in other German regions. This style is now firmly established as the style of the best wines of the top Ahr producers: dry, fairly tannic and with a heavy oak influence. In comparison with Pinot Noir wines of Burgundy
Burgundy wine
Burgundy wine is wine made in the Burgundy region in eastern France, in the valleys and slopes west of the Saône River, a tributary of the Rhône. The most famous wines produced here - those commonly referred to as "Burgundies" - are red wines made from Pinot Noir grapes or white wines made from...

, Ahr wines tend to have a paler red colour and being more oak-dominated.

The top red wines used to be classified as dry (trocken) Auslese
Auslese is a German language wine term for a late harvest wine and is a riper category than Spätlese in the Prädikatswein category of the Austrian and German wine classification. The grapes are picked from selected very ripe bunches in the autumn , and have to be hand picked...

, but nowadays they are either called Grosses Gewächs or are classified as plain Qualitätswein bestimmter Anbaugebiete and are sold under estate-specific wine names.

The best red wines of Ahr are quite expensive, and are routinely priced significantly higher than Germany's top dry Rieslings. Prices in excess of 50 euro are not uncommon for the top of the range at more well-known producers, although cheaper entry wines also are produced. Due to the limited production, and the current high demand for domestic red wines in Germany, Ahr wines are almost never seen on the export market.
The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.