A Special Wine: First Growth ("Erstes Gewächs")
Excellent wines grow on first-class soils – this is the clear message of Rheingau’s “First Growth“.
Ever since 1999 wines from scientifically classified sites with the designation “First Growth” have been available. Some 1,100 hectares of vineyard area were labelled as classified terroir in the quality map. This corresponds to a good third of the Rheingau’s total vineyard area. The vineyard map, which has been commissioned by the Rheingau Viticultural Association (“Rheingauer Weinbauverband”) and was drawn up by the Institute of Research Geisenheim (“Forschungsanstalt Geisenheim”) and the German Weather Service, doesn’t only take into consideration the continuity of quality of vineyard sites but also climatic conditions and soil conditions in the vineyard. This alone doesn’t guarantee excellent wines.
The prerequisites for the “First Growth“ are anchored in the Hessian Wine Law. Only the two main grape varieties of the Rheingau, Riesling and Spätburgunder may be marketed as "First Growth". Experts examine the “First Growth” extremely thoroughly and evaluate colour, aroma and taste. This sensory examination guarantees consumers that wines coming onto the market with the designation "First Growth" actually possess a high quality standard and are among the Rheingau’s high-quality products.
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Criteria for Erstes Gewächs
- distinctive mark is the three Romanesque arches on the label.
- the wines come exclusively from classified sites.
- the wine harvest must take place selectively and by hand.
- 50 hectolitres per hectare are maximally permitted.
- wines may only be marketed 1 September of the year following harvest at the earliest.
- a final, sensory examination decides about approval.