The Ahr (/arr/) Valley is a tiny wine region with a surprising geography famous for producing high quality red wine. It is the only of Germany’s thirteen official wine growing regions (“anbaugebiete”/on-bou-gi-bēt-ǝ/) that produces more red wine than white with 80% red. Most red wine grape varietals thrive in warmer climates which helps them produce fuller bodied wines with higher levels of alcohol. Bordeaux, Spain, Italy, California, South America and Australia all have examples of such regions. Spätburgunder (“pinot noir”/shpāt-bur-gūn-dur/) and frühburgunder (“pinot madeleine”/frūeh-bur-gūn-dur/), however, are two red wine varietals that prefer slightly cooler climates such as Burgundy, France and a few regions in Germany. The Ahr Valley has a climate warm enough to produce premier spätburgunder and frühburgunder despite being considerably farther north than Burgundy and the Champagne regions in France. It is one the most northern wine regions in the world.
So far North, the Ahr Valley pushes the limits latitude places on wine production. The Ahr Valley is located near the cities of Köln (“Cologne”) and Bonn. It is a lushly green valley with a mere 540 hectares making it one of Germany’s smallest wine regions. Larger only than the Mittelrhein, Sachsen, and Hessische Bergstrasse regions. This fact and the relative rareness of German red wine in general makes Ahr wine an extremely rare find on the international market.
When you descend into the Ahr Valley the rapid and drastic change of scenery creates the impression you are entering some kind of fantasy world. Its villages are small and the surroundings are as picturesque and romantic as you could dream. Like the Mosel, it benefits from steep vineyard tracts to maximize sunlight for its vines. It is in the Ahr Valley where you can find the ultra rare, Ahr frühburgunder. The Winzergenossenschaft Mayschoss-Altenahr is one of the best regarded producers in the Ahr Valley with 145 hectares and numerous accolades.