AAWE, Economics Dept, New York University, 19 W 4th St, 6Fl., New York NY 10012aawe@wine-economics.org

AAWE Working Paper No. 214 – Economics

The Wine Industry in Germany, Austria and Switzerland 1835-2016

Karl Storchmann


Overview Wine Production in Germany

Although grapevines have been cultivated in present day Germany since Roman times (e.g., Bassermann-Jordan, 1907), compared to European wine growing nations such as France, Italy, and Spain, Germany has never been a major wine producing country. Its geographical location between the 48th and 54th parallel and the resulting marginal climate restricts grape growing to the valleys of the Rhine river and its tributaries Ahr, Mosel, Nahe, and Main in the south-west. In addition, some professional viticulture, though at a much smaller scale, can also be found in the valleys of the Saale-Unstrut and the Elbe river in the eastern part of present day Germany (see Figure GER-1).

However, Germany in its current borders has only existed since 1990, when West and East Germany reunified (depicted in dark gray in Figure GER-1). At one time or another, a few other viticultural regions belonged to what was then called Germany (in light gray in Figure GER-1). The most significant one was certainly Alsace-Lorraine, which was part of the German Empire between 1871 and 1918, and, in some years, accounted for as much as a third of the entire German wine production. Similarly significant was the merger with Austria, which joined Nazi- Germany in 1938, and became the province Reichsgau Ostmark until 1945. A few somewhat smaller wine growing regions in Posen and Silesia (e.g., Zielona Góra, German Grünberg), now Poland, once belonged to Prussia and, before 1818, were virtually the only domestic wine suppliers within the Kingdom.

This study refers to Germany within its present day borders and all figures for “German wine production” will exclude Alsace-Lorraine, the Polish regions, and Austria by re-aggregating the production data of the official statistics.

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