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Saxony Wine Region
Geographic location: Eastern Germany
Vineyards have been a feature of the Elbe Valley landscape in Saxony for more than 800 years. Although the region is better known for the world-renowned Semper Opera House and magnificent waterfront palaces in Dresden, telltale signs of its wine-growing tradition are evident in decorations on the famous Meissen porcelain.
Wines from Saxony have not yet broken into the mainstream market because of their status as specialities that are hard to come by (they account for just 0.2 per cent of all German wines).
The wine-growing region along the Elbe is one of the smallest in Germany and the most north-easterly in Europe: the chain of vineyards stretches 55 km from Pirna, via Dresden, Radebeul and Meissen, to the picture-postcard winery villages on the Elbe river near Diesbar-Seusslitz, seamlessly blending cultural and historical attractions and magnificent scenery.
The first documented reference to viticulture in Saxony dates back to 1161, but legend has it that Bishop Benno of Meissen planted the first vines near Burgberg hill in 1100.
The Elbe is the life blood of wine-growing in Saxony: its valley slopes protect the grapes that thrive there. The choicest locations – steep terraces that catch the sun but are not too dry – are taken up by the traminer, a variety of grape that fares particularly well in Saxony. Despite the relatively low yields, traminer grapes produce excellent wines with a rich bouquet of flavours and an aroma reminiscent of roses.
A particularly fussy variety, it is known by vintners as the king of white wines in Saxony and has been cultivated since the mid-18th century.
Gewürztraminers, the common name for the wines, go especially well with cheese and desserts. The oldest vine in Saxony is also a Traminer and dates back to 1880. It can be found in the grounds of the Hahnemann Centre in Meissen, an environmental project based in an old abbey ruins.
Official Website Wine Assoc. Saxony: www.weinbauverband-sachsen.de