Rheinhessen lies in a valley of rolling hills, bordered on the west by the Nahe River and on the north and east by the Rhine. This 20 by 30 mile area between the wine-growing communities of Worms, Alzey, Mainz and Bingen is the largest of the German winegrowing regions and its production is second only to that of the Pfalz. Due to the varying soil types and microclimates, many grape varieties are planted, including the three traditional white varieties - Müller-Thurgau, Silvaner, Riesling - as well as new crossings. The Portugieser grape is the most important red variety, and the area around Ingelheim is known for its noble fullbodied Spätburgunder (Pinot noir) wine.
The Rheinfront or Rheinterrasse are names given to the vineyards on gentle slopes directly facing the Rhein (Rhine) near the town of Nierstein. Here some of the finest wines in Germany are produced, especially from the Riesling grape.
There were already admirers of Rheinhessen's mild, agreeable, fragrant wines during the Carolingian period. Charlemagne, who had a fortress at Ingelheim, was one of the earliest promoters of these wines.