In order of Riesling acres planted the Top German Wine Regions are:
Mosel - The Mosel-Saar-Ruwer or just "Mosel" for short is the primary river that runs through this famous wine region, hence the name. Known for cool climate zones and steep hillside vines, this region produces lighter-styled, crisp Riesling wines. Riesling wines from the Mosel continue to gain international recognition for their consistent balance and quality to price ratio. Mosel villages to look for on the label: Berkastel, Piesport, Bernkastel and Wehlen.
Producers to try: JJ Prüm, Dr. Loosen, Schloss Lieser, Haag, Haart, Weiser-Künstler and Selbach-Oster.
Pfalz - This region used to be referred to as "Rheinpfalz" and has since been shortened to just "Pfalz." Situated along the Rhine river, this is Germany's largest wine producing region, with about 20% of its vines designated as Riesling. The Weinstraße, German "Wine Road" meanders through the Pfalz region and offers a lovely snapshot of some of Germany's most picturesque wine country. Pfalz villages to look for on the label: Wachenheim, Bad Durkheim, Forst, Ungstein, Deidesheim and Ruppertsberg.
Producers to try: Rebholz, Becker, Dr. Burklin-Wolf and von Buhl.
Rheinhessan - As Germany's second largest wine region, the Rheinhessan is bordered by both the Nahe and Rhine rivers. By virtue of sheer size, the soil and climate in this region are considerably more varied than in those found in Germany's smaller growing zones. This variability has allowed for more experimentation in viticultural practices. Müller-Thurgau is the dominant grape varietal grown here, with Riesling coming in as second most widely grown grape in the region. Rheinhessan villages to look for on the label: Nackenheim, Nierstein and Oppenheim.
Producers to try: Gunderloch, Guntrum and Strub.
Rheingau - Situated along the Rhine river, Rheingau is home to one of Germany's most famous Riesling Estates, Schloss Johannisberg. It's believed that Charlemagne helped promote viticulture in this region back in about 750 AD. The Rieslings from Rheingau have a reputation for being richer and more full-bodied than those hailing from the Mosel region. Rheingau villages to look for on the label: Johannisberg, Oestrich, Hochheim, Erbach and Rauenthal.
Producers to try: Schloss Johannisberg, Schloss-Vollrads, Schonborn, Johannishof, Josef Leitz, Künstler and Robert Weil.
Nahe - Nahe has certainly entered the international wine scene and has had some of its Rieslings receive worldwide acclaim. Riesling is the most widely planted grape for this region that is bordered by the Nahe river. Nahe villages to look for on the label: Niederhausen, Bad Münster and Norheim.
Producers to try: Hermann Donnhoff, Emrich-Schönleber, Tesch and Schäfer-Fröhlich.
For simplicity’s sake, these regions are named after the major rivers that carve their way through the specific wine zones. So if you are somewhat familiar with Germany’s geography, these wine regions will be cake to identify and remember.
Other Riesling Locales to Know:
France: Alsace is the only wine growing region in France that is allowed by law to grow the Riesling grape varietal. And grow it, it does! Alsatian Rieslings have a committed following. In very general, Riesling from Alsace tends to be dry and have higher alcohol levels, making for wines with a bit more aromatic intensity and palate power. Alsatian Riesling Producers to try include: Hugel et Fils, F.E. Trimbach, Lucien Albrecht, Zind-Humbrecht, Schlumberger and Domain Weinbach.
Austria: After Austria's Gruner Veltliner grape, Riesling is the next most planted varietal. Austrian Riesling brings a prominent minerality and runs a little higher on the alcohol scale. These are vibrant, dry medium-bodied white wines that play particularly well with food. Producers to try: Fritsch, Nigl, Prager, Hogl, Gritsch Mauritiushof and Heiss.
Washington: Washington's reputation for stellar Riesling offerings continues to climb. As the nation's largest producer of Riesling wines, Washington seems to have figured out what it takes to craft elegant, amicable Rieslings - often in an off-dry, juicy fruit style. Producers to try: Chateau Ste. Michelle, Hogue, Columbia Crest and Pacific Rim.
Oregon: While not quite the production capacity that Washington has for its Rieslings, Oregon is still holding its own for high quality Rieslings. Producers to try: Hogue, Daedalus Cellars and Amity.
New York: New York's Finger Lakes region has long been on the map for its famous ice wines, often derived from Riesling grapes. Producers to try: Wiemer, Ravines, Lamoreaux and Dr. Frank.
Canada, Australia and New Zealand also have some significant Riesling producers to be on the look out for. Inniskillin out of Canada being the most famous estate and Clare Valley being one of Australia's primary Riesling producing regions.