411 million years ago, a shallow sea surged here. Sediments were deposited in subsidence, about 60 million years later volcanoes
broke through these layers. Coral reefs formed, the continents
drifted around, shifted and folded, and formed slate: the Rhenish
Slate Mountains emerged. Whilst this section moved northwards
from the equator, the resulting mountains eroded and rose even
more, wind and river sediments were deposited. 244 million years
ago, the Rhenish Slate Mountains were an island on the edge of a shallow sea. When a tropical-subtropical climate dominated 200
to 65 million years ago, the once fixed slate softened up and the
Rhenish island was eroded. Volcanism with the simultaneous rising
of the slate mountains followed. Rivers began to navigate their paths, with the first early Moselle roughly 15 million years ago.
When a phase of climate fluctuations with cold and hot periods
began 2.6 million years ago, the slate mountains rose quicker and,
at the same time, the rivers penetrated deeper. A meandering main
river in a narrow deepening valley emerged from the individual
rivers in the once wide valley basin, its power of erosion grew,
which cut off tributaries and left behind dry valleys and hills
encircled by a meander.
Roughly 11,000 years ago, warm conditions set in again, forests
spread again. With the Neolithic revolution, people formed
settlements, cleared forests, laid fields and began to breed animals.
The oldest settlement finds on the Moselle date back to about
5000 BC. Two thousand years ago, the Romans conquered the
Treverian Celtic tribe living here at that time and stayed for half
a millennium. From 293 to 324, Trier was an Imperial City of the
Roman Empire. The Romans revolutionised construction, agriculture,
the eating and drinking culture, brought to life again many animal
and plant species that had become extinct in the cold periods north
of the Alps and introduced other species. Above all though, they
brought the culture of wine and Christianity here, which appeared
to be intrinsically linked together.
The first cathedral north of the Alps was built in Trier. Trier has
been a diocesan town since the 3rd century. Valuable finds of a
cage cup and a golden brooch in Piesport/Mosel suggest that
someone close to the Emperor once stayed there, probably the
manager of the imperial wine-growing estates. Original preserved
wall fragments and parts of the tiled brick floor in Trier tell of the
kind of wine cellar, Horrea, to which wines from the winepresses
along the Moselle were brought. Today, the numerous partly restored winepresses together with wine pressing stone, vine knives and other objects tell of viticulture in the Mosel region back then.
A Roman road led along the Moselle back then. An arterial road continued through the mountainous region in the Hunsrück towards Trier. Here near Leiwen, there was probably a connecting "ascending road" which was called "clivus" by the Romans, which over the course
of thousands of years became "Leiwen" from "Lyve".
In 406, the Roman administration on the Moselle was defeated in
an attack by the Alans, Suebi and vandals. Attila's Huns followed
and destroyed Trier in 451, the Mosel region was incorporated into
France in 475 and was under the Christian King Clovis, whereupon
the Trier Bishop Nicentius began the reconstruction of the Trier Cathedral in 526. In 815, Trier was restored as an archdiocese from
the status derived from the ancient world. Monasteries were founded
and endowed with the ownership of vineyards, which secured their financial existence. In 1458, Cardinal Nicholas of Cusa founded the
St. Nicholas Hospital in his hometown, today's Bernkastel-Kues, that
still cares for elderly people today. Roughly 120 years later, a Jesuit school was founded in Trier that was later attended by Karl Marx.
Its vineyard also produced first-class wines.
The Archbishop and Elector of Trier, Clemens Wenceslaus of Saxony, founded the wine-producing theological college in 1773 and in 1786 ordered that from now on only the finer Riesling, which was first mentioned in the Mosel region in 1465, was to be cultivated in his
realm instead of the profitable Elbling.
Over the door of the so-called Zehnthof in Leiwen, the Trier Elector's emblem shows that this house was the mayor's seat, representative of
the Trier Archbishop and Elector, which served as a storage place for
the dues collected from the community. The Archbishop has been the landlord in Leiwen since the 9th century at the latest.
The rule of Clemens Wenceslaus ended with the invasion of the
French Revolution Army in 1794. In 1801, the regions on the left
of the Rhine were incorporated into France. Vineyards that once
belonged to the church were auctioned in Paris to merchants and
civil servants. A financial boom began in the region, above all for
the vineyards, which improved their cultivation of Riesling using
better fertilisation, methods of cultivation closer to the soil and
different harvests. The Mosel region became Prussian with the
Vienna Congress (1814-1815). Changing customs laws initially favour
the sale of Mosel wines but later on make this more difficult again.
In 1840, the first steam ship travelled along the Moselle, in 1860
the Trier-Saarbrücken railway line was opened, in 1879 the line from
Trier to Koblenz as part of the Berlin-Metz line. The transport of
wine to cities growing in terms of space and economy with
increasing demand was made easier.
Around the turn of the century, the Prussian state built wine-growing domains, instructive model businesses. At the same time, the wines ended up in the top places in wine competitions at world exhibitions. Demand increased and sales returns shot up considering the small wine cultivation region and thus severely limited amount. The Mosel secured its position as one of the trend-setting white wine regions in the world. Its Riesling also cost the most on wine menus in exclusive restaurants
in Berlin, New York, Paris, Warsaw and London.
Phylloxera came to Europe, two World Wars made proper wine-growing difficult. However, in the years of the so-called economic miracle, wine cultivation on the Moselle blossomed again and then flagged when citizens who liked travelling brought different eating and drinking
habits back with them from the south. A series of cool summers made local wine cultivation difficult. At the same time, the offer of jobs
outside wine cultivation grew. Luxemburg was enticing people with lucrative jobs. Anyone who had passed the A-levels and still studied viticulture had to resist well-paid jobs from the booming New World
of Wines. Today, enthusiasts that know about the uniqueness of these wines, take on the stony steep slopes on the Moselle.
They are light and digestible, stimulating, exciting, perhaps THE
magic potion of "poets and thinkers" As the low alcohol content does
not make you lethargic, tired and listless but strokes the senses and inspires the mind.
In the year 371, D. M. Ausonius, born in Bordeaux, had already written
an eulogy of several hundred hexameters on the "river between vines
on slopes, where sweet wines prosper. The list of writers and composers who have since extolled these fragrant wines is long. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe wrote on the occasion of a trip down the Moselle in 1792: "The many towns on both sides provided a most cheerful view; the
wine cultivation, carefully nurtured everywhere, implies easygoing
people who spare no efforts in obtaining this delicious nectar."
The composer Ludwig van Beethoven (whose ancestors on his mother's
side originated from the Mosel and bore the name Kewerich) is supposed to have written to his publisher, Schott in Mainz in 1827: "I now have
an important request ... The quicker I receive this Rhine or Mosel wine, the more beneficial it will be to me in this current state."
Wine to gladden the heart of man. (Psalm 104,15)