Page 3 – German Vineyard Names
Please take careful note of the disclaimer at the bottom of this page.
Okay, German vineyard names tend to look quite daunting. They’re often long, employing at least two unfamiliar polysyllabic names, and are often coupled with producer names of equal length and other unknown terminology like that explained above. With Prädikat levels and sweetness terminology cleared up, however, it is relatively easy to go through how the vineyard names are structured.
There are a few single-name sites. These are going to be fairly clear: Scharzhofberg or Lorenzhöfer, both on the Mosel, are examples of this.
Far more common are double names. In these cases, they are almost always a municipality name followed by the vineyard name. The municipality will virtually always be modified with the suffix “-er”. Some municipalities, like Deidesheim in the Pfalz, have several important vineyards associated with them. So we get, for example: Deidesheimer Kalkofen or Deidesheimer Hohenmorgen.
And then there is that rarest of beasts: the triple-named vineyard. An example about which I have already written is the Brauneberger Juffer-Sonnenuhr. You’ve probably figured out already that it is a vineyard in or near Brauneberg, and you would be correct! Here, the situation is that the Brauneberger Juffer is already a very important vineyard site. The extra name Sonnenuhr is a smaller parcel within that vineyard, with even more particular characteristics. It also just happens to be one of the most important vineyard sites for Riesling in all of Germany. So to keep things nice and orderly, they slap a hyphen in there and the vineyard site becomes a nine-syllable monster. Since that vineyard is worked by a number of different producers, specifying exactly which wine you have purchased can become a bit like delivering a Shakespearean monologue. For fun, here is the full name of a TBA from one of my favourite producers, with the vintage (2003) written out in full:
Zweitausanddreier Paulinshof Brauneberger Juffer-Sonnenuhr Riesling Trockenbeerenauslese.
As many syllables in that name as there are letters in the English alphabet. Good times.
However, armed with the knowledge you have so far, it should be completely clear what that wine is.
Bonus: with a decent German-English dictionary, you can also come to appreciate how picturesque a few of these site names are, too. There’s poetry in them thar hills.
It pains me to have to say this, but what the vineyard site name does NOT tell you is if it is a little, authentic site (Einzellage) or a big, anonymous piece of land piggybacking off the famous name of a fine vineyard (Großlagen) – something which, scandalously, has actually been enshrined in German Law since 1971. Stick with quality producers and much of the confusion can be avoided. Checking out vineyard names will do the same. Sorry about that.
On to the VDP Classification!