The Bodensee region is where the borders of Germany, Austria, and Switzerland meet to hug and envelope Lake Constance (known as Bodensee in German). A stunningly beautiful destination for tourists seeking to pursue leisure activities and relax, this breathtaking landscape offers a great deal to capture the imagination of wine aficionados.
The Most Elevated Vineyards In Germany
The sloping vineyards that adorn the shore of Lake Constance lie in a nurturing landscape that exudes an almost Mediterranean charm. Given the sunny reputation of this region, it often surprises people to learn that this verdant idyll is not actually the warmest of Germany’s wine-growing regions. The grapes here ripen under rather moderate temperature conditions because they grow in the most elevated vineyards in the country!
The surface of the lake lies at 400 metres above sea level while the wine slopes themselves often stretch up to around 480 metres. The steep slopes of the Hohentwiel, an extinct volcano close to the western end of Lake Constance, are home to Germany’s highest vineyard, at 562 metres.
Unique Climate Conditions
It’s not only the cool altitude and the many hours of sunshine that influence the vineyards in this region. The climate afforded by the massive surface area of the lake is also significant as it has a highly stabilising effect on the region’s overall temperature profile. This is made possible as the lake reflects generous amounts of sunlight back onto the vineyards to facilitate slow but steady ripening of the grapes.
These unique climate conditions explain why lake wines (Seewein) tend to be known for their expressive fruitiness, freshness, and alluring vivacity, and why they are very much sought-after. Furthermore, in addition to the micro-climate that’s created by the lake itself, the rich and diverse sandy loam lakeside soils – mixed in part with limestone, molasse sediments, and moraine deposits – also play an important role in the terroir and cultivation of Lake Constance.
The Fine Yields of Lake Constance
The majority of the vineyards on German-bordered Lake Constance belong to the Baden wine growing area. This region encompasses the area between Immenstaad and medieval Meersburg, close to Konstanz, Überlingen and the Upper Rhine. Here, on about 1371 acres (and alongside Pinot varieties), the Müller-Thurgau grape famously thrives to yield some of the finest examples of its type in Germany, and to produce distinctively floral wines known for their crispness and vitality.
In addition to the Baden wine region, there are also vineyards located around Kressbronn, which belong to the Württemberg growing region. The vineyards on the Bavarian lake shore at Lindau count among these. Perhaps surprisingly, there is significantly less wine cultivation along the Austrian part of the lake, with only about 59 acres dedicated to growing grapes in the state of Vorarlberg. Nevertheless, these vineyards yield some very tasty and noteworthy rarities.
The vineyards of the Swiss-bordered lakeside slopes at St. Gallen (Rheintal) benefit from exceptional growing conditions and yield some highly-flavoursome regional specialities. However, considerably more significant is the wine growing region on the southern Swiss shores in the Canton of Thurgau (where Hermann Müller, originator of the Müller-Thurgau grape variety, came from). Here, on around 642 acres, Pinot Noir, Garanoir and Regent varieties are cultivated for red wine, while Müller-Thurgau and Pinot Gris varieties are cultivated for white wine. At Stein am Rhein – the westernmost tip of the lake – Swiss viticulture also has a fine reputation. This is where the Canton of Schaffhausen winegrowing region begins with 1236 acres of mostly Pinot Noir grapes that yield particularly fine wines.
Recommended Winegrowers Around Lake Constance
Here is a selection of noteworthy winegrowers in these beautiful regions.
- Winzerverein Hagnau
- Weingut Kress
- Weingut Markgraf von Baden
- Weingut Aufricht
- Staatsweingut Meersburg
Canton of Thurgau
- Schlossgut Bachtobel
- Michael Broger
Canton of Schaffhausen
- Weingut Baumann
- Markus Ruch
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