World heritage wine regions: Middle Rhine, Germany

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The Middle Rhine’s beauty is well-chronicled, but it gained UNESCO status for its role as a major trade artery in the evolution of history and human development.

The region, also known as the Rhine Gorge, is an extraordinary example of a mutually beneficial relationship between land and people.

The area’s natural centrepiece, the Rhine River, threads its way through the steep-sided valley. Ancient castles, historic towns and vineyards imbue the area with a uniquely romantic aspect – more so than any other wine region.

Numerous hiking trails surround the villages, offering visitors magnificent vistas of vineyards and forested countryside. Riesling flourishes on the region’s precipitous hillsides but requires great care and skill during harvest (some slopes angle nearly 45˚). Winemakers here endure the taxing conditions for the reward of crisp wines with racy minerality and intense fruitiness.

The ideal way to explore the region, and certainly the most bucolic, is by boat. Consider making the village of Boppard your home base, a 2,000-year-old town that hosts an annual walk through the vineyards on the last Sunday in April.

During the scenic walk, which celebrates bud break, participants enjoy the various makeshift stops along the way to taste and visit with local winemakers and chefs.

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