Discover Riesling

"Riesling is the 'queen of grapes'. It is also the most demanding mistress. If not treated with care and respect, it is unforgiving."

The origin of the grape vine, Vitis Vinifera, is in the Caucasus mountains in Georgia, at the junction of Western Asia and Eastern Europe. How the wines came to Persia (Iran and Iraq) and then to the Mediterranean is carefully recorded by Hugh Johnson. He notes that Riesling could have been cultivated from a wild vine by the Romans. It could have been selected for its ability to ripen in cold climates, when the Romans spread their empire to other places, including regions of Germany.

The first documentary evidence appears in 1435 and links Kloster Eberbach - a monastery in the Rhinegau - with the making of Riesling wines. This is supported by Stuart Piggott who comments that the earliest reliable records are from an invoice written by the estate manager of Count von Katezenellenbogen for Riesling grapes to be planted in his vineyard at Russelsheim on the Main near Rhinegau in 1435. Austrians claim to have had Riesling since 1308 at Ritzling, near Joching, in Wachau. Unfortunately there is little documentation to support this. From Germany Riesling spread to the surrounding grape growing countries, which included Italy, Austria and Hungary. More recently, Riesling reached the new world wine countries, including Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and the United States.

From Riesling in Australia, by Ken Helm AMĀ and Trish Burgess