History of wine cultivation
Historians found out that wine has already been cultivated in Hochheim am Main since Roman times, however, only mentioned in around 1200 AD. Wine cultivation has already been recorded in Massenheim in 819 AD.
Hochheim wine is known far beyond the Rheingau for outstanding quality, reaching as far as to the British Royal family.
Wine cultivation in Hochheim am Main
Hochheim is part of the Rheingau wine cultivation area. Viticulture has characterized the town for centuries, documented since 1329.
Hochheim wines have worldwide recognition, not least on account of British Queen Victoria’s love for noble wines from Hochheim. Many vintners offer their wine in wine bars and direct sale. However, Hochheim has also acquired renown as a sparkling wine town. In 1837 the first Rhenish sparkling wine factory - Burgeff - opened here, still vital for our city today. Not only the brandname "Mumm" is well known among the connoisseurs.
Vineyard area & vines
On an area of approx. 220 ha mainly the vine grapes Riesling (about 80%), Spätburgunder (about10 %) und Müller-Thurgau (about 4%) are cultivated. The remaining percentage is shared by white and gray Burgundy, Dornfelder, Ehrenfelser and other vines, such as Red Riesling and Merlot. Riesling also predominates most of the Rheingau wine region, this is why it is called Riesling-region. Hochheim accounts for 8% of the vineyard area of the Rheingau.
Around 100 vintners make their living partly or completely from wine-making. Altogether 11 vineyard locations are cultivated in Hochheim
- Berg (about 35 ha, loess loam soils)
- Daubhaus (Great location)
- Domdechaney (about 11 ha, loess-, loess loam- and clay marl soils)
- Herrnberg (about 27 ha, loess loam soils and sands, partly gravelly)
- Hölle (about 33 ha, sandy-gravelly soils)
- Hofmeister (about 34 ha, loess loam and loose soils, partly gravelly)
- Kirchenstück (about 15 ha, loess-, loess loam- und clay marl soils, Party also sandy-gravelly)
- Königin-Viktoria-Berg (about 5 ha, loess loam und loose soils, partly gravelly)
- Reichestal (about 27 ha, loess loam soils)
- Stein (about 27 ha, loess loam soils)
- Stielweg (about 26 ha, loess loam soils)
- and in Massenheim the Schlossgarten (about 29 ha, loess loam soils)
See the map on Hochheim’s vineyard locations on the Kulturland Rheingau website.
The unique climate situation of Hochheim, quite exactly on the 50th latitude, and the rather mild temperature caused by the Gulf stream enable a longer maturing period in autumn than in any other wine cultivation area.
Hochheim’s vineyards are mainly positioned to the south and are protected from the cold wind of the north by buildings. Owing to these outstanding location conditions Hochheim’s wine locations are found among the top wine locations of the Rheingau region. In addition to these excellent conditions, the vintners of Hochheim do a fantastic job. This is how award-winning wines and sparkling wines with a world-wide reputation come about.
Sparkling wine production
In 1832 Ignatz Schweickardt from Hochheim sold the first sparkling wine, made from Hochheim wines, in the tavern Burg Ehrenfels. He had learned the method from champagne production in France. He named the homemade sparkling wine "Hochheimer Mussie" - the sparkling wine town Hochheim was born and with it the oldest Rhenish sparkling wine location. In August 1836, the founder fused with sponsor Carl Burgeff to create the Schweickardt & Burgeff company for the production of sparkling Hochheim wine. Seven sparkling wine producers had established here by 1905.
Sparkling wine was a story of success and distinguished Hochheim additionally. However, after WWI sparkling wine production in Hochheim could not fully recover and so the number of sparkling wine producers has decreased constantly to only one remaining vintner in Hochheim, who still makes sparkling wine in Hochheim in the traditional method. Uwe Schreiber does not only produce for his own winery but also for other winegrowers in Hochheim.
Thanks to British Queen Victoria’s love for Hochheim vines the town is known around the whole Angle-Saxon world. Of course, hardly any Briton or American knows that "Hock“ is actually a malapropism of Hochheim. If a Briton speaks about Hock, he or she means wine from the Rhine river in general. Hochheim acted as a model for this linguistic development. Under the name of this wine and sparkling wine town the German white wine made friends in all English-speaking countries. More information on the Queen’s visit and the monument, which was erected thereupon, can be found here.
Thomas Jefferson - president of the United Staes of America (1801-1809) and one the Great Fathers of the Declaration of Independence on 4 July 1776 - on a visit in Hochheim am Main.
Thomas Jefferson was ambassador to France in Paris from 1785 to 1789. On 6 April 1788 he stayed in the “Red House“ in Frankfurt am Main for the next four days and enjoyed the oldest wine there, a Hochheim wine of the year 1726. On 10 April 1788 he travelled to Hochheim am Main and described the vineyards as follows:
“The vines are positioned one meter apart and are about 2m high. Once in every three of four years, they are fertilized. 1000 vines make 170-340 bottles of wine a year.“
Thomas Jefferson bought 100 vines for his garden in Paris. Later, he wrote to a friend: “The vines I took from Hochheim thrive in my garden and will cross the Atlantic in the next winter, so that I will be able to offer a glass of Hochheim wine from own production.“
In memory of his visit in Hochheim am Main, a memorial panel was placed in 2004 on occasion of the 1250 Hochheim anniversary. The panel can be viewed on the Herrnbachpfad via the Weinerlebnisweg (Wine Experience Walk).