Piesport is a small town on a sharp bend in the Mosel river, in the Mosel wine district of Germany. It has been producing wine since Roman times. In fact, in 1985 a fourth-century Roman wine press was discovered here – the largest ever found north of the Alps.
Piesport's perilously steep northern bank, with its pure southerly aspect, is the origin of some of the Mosel's finest Rieslings, particularly from the two sites deemed Erste Lage ('premier cru') – Goldtropfchen and Schubertslay. But a vast quantity of ordinary wine, often from inferior varieties such as Muller-Thurgau and Elbling, is sold from the Grosslage of Michelsberg, which is allowed to be prefixed with the Piesporter name. This confusing element of German wine law has been the subject of fiery (and as yet unresolved) debate since its introduction in 1971.
The town's most notable wines come from its Goldtropfchen vineyard (whose name means 'Droplets of Gold'). Piesporter Goldtropfchen Rieslings are some of the very finest in all of the Mosel, and hold longstanding international prestige. The site has a complex make-up of soils over its 165 acres (67ha), including reddish, iron-rich soils, glinting quartz, stony clays and blue-gray decomposed Devonian slate. Erosion is a particular issue here due to the site's steepness, but the German land consolidation program of the 1950s to 1970s did a lot to make life easier for the vignerons, particularly with regards to roading and drainage. During these landworks, archaeological evidence of the site's long history was uncovered – a large Roman wine press dating back to the 4th Century AD.
One of the most interesting wineries in Piesport, in terms of both its wine and its history, is the Weingut Vereinigte Hospitien (United Hospices Winery). The cellars of this highly traditional winery were constructed in Roman times (around 330 AD), and the Roman masonry is still clearly visible today. In 1908, the Weingut Vereinigte Hospitien was one of the founding members of the Mosel 'Grosse Ring', the group of quality-focused wineries which ultimately led to the founding of the VDP, the Verband Deutscher Prädikats- und Qualitätsweinguter (see German Wine Label Information).