Quality Categories

Because quality wine deserves to be understood.

Up until today the official model to classify German wine was based both on the origin of the grapes as well as their degree of Oechsle (sugar).

However, from 2021, the legislature has created a more differentiated pyramid of origin for Qualität and Prädikat wines with a protected designation of origin. It is structured in four levels and follows the tenet "the smaller the origin, the higher the quality". While the new classification is already adopted widely, it will be legally binding for everyone from the vintage 2026 onwards.


Current classification model



New classification model


Wines with the name Großes Gewächs will now be at the top of the single vineyard wines. They comprise exclusively of white and red wines that have been made from a single grape variety that matches the regional profile. The hand-picked grapes must not exceed a yield of 50 hectolitres per hectare. The wine must be ‘trocken’ (dry) and undergo sensory evaluation by an examination committee.

The designation Erstes Gewächs also only applies to white and red wines that have been made from a single grape variety that matches the regional profile. The grapes must be picked selectively and not exceed a yield of 60 hectolitres per hectare in flat growing areas or 70 hectolitres per hectare on steep slopes.

Wines with a designation of a single vineyard or classified site may be produced from one or more grape varieties, as specified by the associations, and the grapes must be ripened to at least Kabinett quality. The name of a single vineyard must always be given on the label together with the name of the village or district.

Wines and sparkling wines that bear the name of a village or a district as a designation of origin, so-called Ortsweine (village wines), are on the level below the single vineyard wines in the new hierarchy. In terms of taste, they reflect the characteristics of the local vineyards. The grape must for these wines must be of at least Kabinett quality and they may not be sold before December 15 of the year of harvest.

The category of region wines and sparkling wines (Sekt) is also new in the amended German wine legislation. It is used to denote still or sparkling wines whose grapes come from a wine-growing area or a Großlage - a large site that spans communes or districts. These wines are identified by placing the term "Region" in front of the respective area or name of the large site.

At the lowest level of the Qualitätswein pyramid are wines and sparkling wines whose grapes come from a specified wine-growing area, but otherwise do not have a narrower geographical name. The quality requirements for them have not changed with the new wine legislation.


Comparison of Quality Categories