Pfalz The Pfalz is a narrow stretch of land that extends peacefully through a gentle landscape of budding vineyards, fertile orchards and picturesque, half-timbered villages. It is the second largest German wine region by growing area and only topped by Rheinhessen, which it borders to the north. From there, the Pfalz stretches to the Alsace and the French border 53 miles (85km) to the south. Near the French city of Wissembourg (Weißenburg), some vineyards even reach across the border into France.

The Pfalz received its name from the Latin word palatium or palace and is sometimes referred to as the “Palatinate” in English. The region was named after the Palatine Counts of the Holy Roman Empire, who held court in the nearby city of Heidelberg from the 13th to the 18th century.

The Pfalz is a narrow stretch of land just 9 miles (15km) wide. To the west, it is sheltered by the uplands of the Pfälzerwald, which protect it from cold winds and heavy rainfalls. To the east, it is bordered by the lowlands of the Rhine river. It is a beautiful, idyllic landscape that reaches a ratio of grapevines to people of 600:1.

The Pfalz benefits from almost perfect conditions for viticulture and is one of the warmest German growing regions with around 1,800 hours of sunshine per year. Summers are dry, but not too hot, and winters tend to be mild, creating near-Mediterranean microclimates.

The soil is varied and ranges from sandstone, limestone, marl, loess-loam and granite to isolated stretches of slate. Limestone is particularly common in the northern Pfalz, while loess and loam is more prevalent in the southern Pfalz.

Riesling is by far the most important white wine grape and continues to grow in importance. In 2008, the Pfalz became the largest Riesling growing area in the world with almost 5,500 hectares of plantings. While Riesling plays a dominant role throughout the Pfalz, the southern Pfalz has also distinguished itself with its Pinot varietals. The warmer climate and deep loess-loam soils are conducive to Pinot Blanc (Weißburgunder), Pinot Gris (Grauburgunder) and Pinot Noir (Spätburgunder). However, almost 40% of the growing area is planted with red vines, making the Pfalz Germany’s largest red wine region. The most widely planted red wine grape is Dornfelder, followed by Pinot Noir.