Orléans (grape)
Orléans is a variety of white grape
A grape is a non-climacteric fruit, specifically a berry, that grows on the perennial and deciduous woody vines of the genus Vitis. Grapes can be eaten raw or they can be used for making jam, juice, jelly, vinegar, wine, grape seed extracts, raisins, molasses and grape seed oil. Grapes are also...

 (sp. Vitis vinifera
Vitis vinifera
Vitis vinifera is a species of Vitis, native to the Mediterranean region, central Europe, and southwestern Asia, from Morocco and Portugal north to southern Germany and east to northern Iran....

) which up until the 19th century was much grown in 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...

, but in very little use since the early 20th century. It has large berries with thick skins and a high yield. Young Orléans wine has been described as somewhat reminiscent of wine made from white varieties of the pinot
-Grape varieties:* One of several grape varieties and associated wines** Pinot blanc ** Pinot gris ** Pinot meunier** Pinot noir...

 family, but with pineapple
Pineapple is the common name for a tropical plant and its edible fruit, which is actually a multiple fruit consisting of coalesced berries. It was given the name pineapple due to its resemblance to a pine cone. The pineapple is by far the most economically important plant in the Bromeliaceae...


German legends claim that the variety is French in origin, actually from the city of Orléans
-Prehistory and Roman:Cenabum was a Gallic stronghold, one of the principal towns of the Carnutes tribe where the Druids held their annual assembly. It was conquered and destroyed by Julius Caesar in 52 BC, then rebuilt under the Roman Empire...

, and that Charlemagne
Charlemagne was King of the Franks from 768 and Emperor of the Romans from 800 to his death in 814. He expanded the Frankish kingdom into an empire that incorporated much of Western and Central Europe. During his reign, he conquered Italy and was crowned by Pope Leo III on 25 December 800...

 (742-814) was responsible for the first German plantings, which should have been in Rüdesheimer Berg in Rheingau, which were locally known as Berg Orléans. However, there seem to be no documentary evidence to support this, and other legends point to Charlemagne as an importer of red varieties. The origin of this grape variety is not known with precision; it could have been brought from France by the Cistercian monks who founded much of the German wine industry along Rhine. What is known is that has a long history in the wine-growing areas along the Rhine, where Orléans and Trollinger
Trollinger is a light-red, late-maturing wine grape variety that was originally cultivated in the wine regions of South Tyrol and Trentino.It probably reached the southern regions of Germany during Roman times...

 were common earlier than 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...

. In the 19th century, it was widely used in Gemischter Satz plantation together with varieties such as Elbling
Elbling is a variety of white grape which today is primarily grown in the upstream parts of the Mosel region in Germany and in Luxembourg, the vineyards of which are also located along Moselle River...

, Heunisch, Riesling, Pinot Gris
Pinot Gris
Pinot gris is a white wine grape variety of the species Vitis vinifera. Thought to be a mutant clone of the Pinot noir grape, it normally has a grayish-blue fruit, accounting for its name but the grape can have a brownish pink to black and even white appearance...

, Silvaner
Sylvaner or Silvaner is a variety of white wine grape grown primarily in Alsace and Germany, where its official name is Grüner Silvaner. In Germany it is best known as a component of Liebfraumilch and production boomed in the 1970s to the detriment of quality, but it has long enjoyed a better...

 and Traminer. In the 19th century, It seems to have been particularly common in many of the best vineyard sites, such as Rüdesheimer Berg in Rheingau and the vineyards Jesuitengarten, Kirchenstück and Ungeheuer around Forst in the Palatinate
Palatinate (wine region)
Palatinate is a German wine-growing region in the area of Bad Dürkheim, Neustadt an der Weinstraße, and Landau in Rhineland-Palatinate. Before 1993, it was known as Rhine Palatinate . With under cultivation in 2008, the region is the second largest wine region in Germany after Rheinhessen...

, where it was mixed with Riesling and Traminer. The reason for this seems to be that, although high yielding, it is a late ripening variety that needed to be planted in these sites in order to ripen properly, and would not give a good quality in every year. Most likely this was the reason for its decline, since it had to compete for the best sites with Riesling. Varietally pure Orléans wines were considered to be heavy, spicy and long-lived.

In Rheingau, Orléans was down to 11.4 hectares (28.2 acre) in 1890, and the last Orléans wine in Rheingau was produced in 1921, after which the last vines were replaced with other varieties. For a long time, the variety was assumed to be extinct. In the 1980s, professor Helmut Becker
Helmut Becker
Helmut Becker , German viticulturist, was chief of the Geisenheim Grape Breeding Institute. He viewed viticulture from a global perspective and promoted the globalization of a quality wine industry. Dr...

 of the Geisenheim Grape Breeding Institute
Geisenheim Grape Breeding Institute
The Geisenheim Grape Breeding Institute was founded in 1872 and is located in Geisenheim, Rheingau, Germany. In 1876 professor Hermann Müller from Switzerland joined the institution, where he developed his namesake variety Müller-Thurgau , which became the most planted grape variety in Germany in...

 found some Orléans vines that were growing untended in Rüdesheimer Berg, and managed to propagate them. In the early 1990s, Weingut Knipser in Laumersheim
Laumersheim is an Ortsgemeinde – a municipality belonging to a Verbandsgemeinde, a kind of collective municipality – in the Bad Dürkheim district in Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany...

 in the Palatinate became the custodians of the experimental planting of Orléans. They have since released several vintages to the market, including a highly regarded Auslese made in the hot year of 2003. In 1995-1996 Orléans returned to Rheingau when the historically interested Bernhard Breuer of Weingut Georg Breuer planted a small vineyard with 500 vines. From vintage 2000, Breuer have produced a few hundred bottles per year from these vines, and the wines have been considered quite good. The fact that it was once grown in excellent sites and was considered to give long-lived wines have most likely contributed to the ambition to save this variety for the future.


Synonyms include:. Gartengst, Gelber Orléans, Gros Riesling, Hart Hengst, Hartheinisch, Hartheinsch, Harthengst, Orleansch, Orlaenzsch, Orleander, Orleaner, Weisser Orleaner, Orléans, Orléans Gelb, Orléans Jaune, Orléans Vert, Orléans Weiss, Orléanstraube, Orleanzer, Wälscher Weiss, Weisser Orléans
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