From just south of the ancient Roman city of Trier, north to Koblenz, where it empties into the Rhine, the Mosel River snakes its way past dramatically steep, slaty slopes covered with some of Germany's most famous vineyards. The wines of the Mosel and its tributaries, the Saar and the Ruwer, are richly fragrant, pale in colour, lightbodied with a lively, fruity acidity. 6,400 wine growers grow 88 million vines on 10,400 ha.
The vines grow between 100 and 285m above sea level. Besides Riesling (5,748 ha; 55.3%) Müller-Thurgau e.a. Rivaner (1,894 ha; 18.2%), some Kerner (684 ha; 6,6%) and at least 8.4% Elbling (870 ha) - an old variety, cultivated yet by the romans.
The slaty soil imparts a distinctive taste to Mosel wines, ranging from fine-fruity to earthy, or "flinty". Often they have a hint to effervescence.
Riesling wines of great elegance and breed grow best on the steep, southern-facing slopes, particulary around Wiltingen and Scharzhofberg in the Saar-Ruwer district and in the Middle Mosel district around Bernkastel, Piesport, Wehlen, Brauneberg, Graach, Zeltingen and Erden. Müller-Thurgau and an old variety cultivated by the Romans, the Elbling, are also planted in this region.