The Pfalz is the German name for the Palatinate (previously known as the Rheinpfalz), the second most important wine-growing region of West Germany that dates back to Roman times. It has more than 23,000 hectares of vineyards planted with 350 recognized vineyard sites. About 6,800 wine estates produce about 6.5 million hectoliters of wine each year.
The vineyards lie in a 80 kilometer band in the lea of the Haardt Mountains (a prolongation of Alsace’s Vosges Mountains) and it is one of the sunniest and driest of Germany’s wine regions. The soils are a mixture of sandstone and volcanic. The Pfalz is divided into north and south. The northern part, often labeled as Mittelhaardt, encompasses 11 villages such as Diedesheim, Bad Dürkheim and Ruppertsberg and grows primarily Riesling. The southern part, south of Neustadt an de Weistrasse has soils of sandstone and slate and grows Pinot Blanc and Pinot Gris grapes alongside Riesling.
Forty five white and 22 red grape varieties are permitted in the Pfalz with production split 60% white and 40% red. The white wines of the Pfalz are quite full-bodied wines that are dry (trocken) in style. The red wines tend to be aged in oak and Spätburgunder (Pinot Noir) is gaining in popularity.