German Terms For
Degrees of Ripeness

(Early to Late)

  • Kabinett
  • Spatlese
  • Auslese
  • Beerenauslese
  • Trockenbeerenauslese
  • Eiswein
The last three signify dessert wines and are always sweet.



Texas Riesling Producers

  • Becker Vineyards
  • Bell Mountain Vineyards
  • Fall Creek Vineyards
  • Grape Creek Vineyards
  • Lehm Berg Winery
  • La Buena Vida Winery
  • Llano Estacado Winery
  • Messina Hof Winery


Thomas M. Ciesla
page 3 of 4




Riesling is usually produced in three distinct styles: dry, half dry, and sweet. Picking the grapes early when the sugar content is low results in a crisp, fruity aromatic wine that is low in alcohol. If you wait a bit longer to harvest, the sugar levels rise slightly and you produce a semi-dry Riesling. If the harvest is done late in the season when the berries have fully ripened, the sugar content is high, resulting in the classic 'sweet' Riesling with complex bouquets.

During the 20th century ,planting of Riesling grapes spread from the Old World to wine regions in the northern and southern hemispheres. However, with few exceptions the wines produced lack the unique character expressed by the conditions in the Mosel and Rhine Valleys. There the cooler climate allows the grape to ripen over an extended growing period and the predominantly slate soils impart a mineral component to the wine. Still, a number of North American and Australian producers are committed to creating high-quality Riesling.




In the United States, Riesling is seeing a renaissance in New York State's Finger Lakes Region, Michigan, California, Washington, and Oregon. The cooler climate and slate soils of the Finger Lakes Region come close to the conditions in Germany, but Washington State is the largest producer of Riesling at this time, thanks to one winery — Chateau Ste. Michelle — currently bottling 200,000 cases of Riesling annually. California is home to a number of Riesling producers, but experts feel that the wine will never be a predominant component of the California wine market, a market dominated by Chardonnay and other trendy white wines.

In Texas, like California, the generous amounts of sunshine ripen the grapes quickly, resulting in a Riesling that is more gentle and less intense. The short time on the vine prevents the grape from doing what it does best — absorb the character of the vineyard. In the Lone Star State, production of Riesling grapes has remained relatively the same for years at roughly 120 acres. One winery, Messina Hof Winery & Resort dominates the market, using roughly 85% of the crop produced in the state. The winery produces three Rieslings: a dry at 0% residual sugar, a semi-dry at 1% residual sugar and a late harvest at 8% residual sugar. According to Amber Bagwell, Director of Public Relations and Marketing for the winery, "Our 1% residual sugar outsells the 0% residual 10 -to -1." Several other Texas wineries include Riesling in the wine portfolio, usually offering both a semi-dry and sweet version. However, just as with California, Riesling is not expected to be a major component of the Texas wine industry.

Surprisingly, Australia is now at the forefront of the Riesling Revival, being known worldwide for the purity of its Rieslings. These bold and aggressive 'down-under' producers are setting the New World standard for the best dry versions of the varietal. Their wines offer unique regional characteristics and their aggressive marketing efforts are sure to elevate Riesling awareness in the United States. The Clare Valley in South Australia is the source for most of Australia's best Riesling, with two enclaves, Watervale and Polish Hill River being especially renowned.

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