Experience exciting history in the Rheingau and be assured: the history of the Rheingau is neither boring nor dry. Of course, the Romans also left their traces between Wicker and Lorchhausen. But only the numerous foundations of monasteries gave the Rheingau as it is known today its vinological face. Particularly the Cistercians from Eberbach brought system into Rheingau viticulture. Under the guidance of the Cistercians the Taunus hills were cleared and converted into vineyards. Viticulture and wine trade developed quickly into the Rheingau’s economic backbone. The aristocracy also began to get interested in viticulture. The monasteries set the example of quality awareness and the secular wine makers took it over.
Over the centuries it was above all the archbishop of Mainz who controlled the skills of the Rheingau. Mainz profited from this since the city discovered an additional lucrative source of revenue by collecting the usual tithe. The city showed great foresight and proclaimed the Rheingau a free land. There were no serfs, instead the term "peasant country with civil rights" was used. Only the Principal Decree of the Imperial Deputation of 1803 sounded the bell for the end of ecclesiastical power in the Rheingau. The biggest part of the Rheingau monastery assets went to the Principality of Nassau which functioned as a duchy only from 1806 onwards. Around 60 years later the Prussians took over the government of the Rheingau. In the aftermath of World War Two the region was incorporated into the federal state of Hesse. Viticulture always used to be and will always be a stable factor in the Rheingau regardless of political turbulences. For example, the Spätlese (“late harvest”) was discovered at Johannisberg Palace. The designation Kabinett definitely goes back to Eberbach Monastery where once the best wines of a vintage were stored in a separate cabinet.
When the first tourists – mostly Englishmen- discovered the Rheingau as part of the Rhine Romanticism, the region’s opening to tourism began. Until today the Rheingau is well worth a journey of discovery. Whether as wine growing country or rich cultural region.