Nowadays about 3,000 families work as wine-growers in the Palatinate. Among them are prestigious wineries such as Karl Schaefer, Bassermann-Jordan, Reichsrat von Buhl, Anselmann and Müller-Catoir. About half of these 3,000 wineries produce wine in their own cellars and sell it directly. One of the biggest wineries with 85 hectares is Dr. Bürklin-Wolf, with vineyards located in Wachenheim, Deidesheim, Ruppertsberg and Forst.
During the last 15 years there has arisen a trend for bio-wine cultivation in the Palatinate. Bio wineries comply with the regulations for ecological wine production. For instance, they renounce the use of fertilizers and pesticides. One of first bio-wine producers was the winery Schwarztrauber, located in the village of Mußbach. This winery regularly proves at wine tastings that it is possible to produce top-class wines while using environmentally friendly and sustainable methods of wine cultivation.
The amount of hectares is a key success factor for a winery to economically run its business. Therefore, more than 1,000 small and medium-sized wineries have joined local wine cooperatives. Today, there are 18 wine cooperatives located in the Palatinate with centralized wine production and cellars. Most wine cooperatives are affiliated with a specific village or town. Their members may be full- or part-time wine-growers but without doubt all of them work hard to cultivate high-quality grape varieties.
In order to select the best wines of a vintage there are numerous regional, national and international wine competitions. Wines that are decorated with a prize stand for premium quality and are a great reward for a wine-grower. The state of Rhineland-Palatinate annually awards over-average wines with bronze, silver and gold medals. The medals are often placed on the wine bottle’s labels.
A prestigious national award is the German Riesling Prize. In November 2014, the Palatine winery Weegmüller from the village of Haardt won this prize and underlined the dominant role of the Palatinate in the premium-class category of Riesling. Internationally, every year the wine publisher Meininger organizes the world-known wine selection called Mundus Vini in the town of Neustadt. More than 6,000 wines from all over the world are tasted by almost 50 wine tasters. At the last wine tasting in February 2015, the highest prize was allocated to 59 Palatine wines, placing the Palatinate again on top of all German wine regions.
Viticulture has a central role in all the villages and towns. This is demonstrated by more than 200 wine festivals from March to November every year. Every wine festival begins with an opening ceremony gathering all local representatives. This obviously include the local wine-growers and, of course, the elected wine queen and wine princess of the village. The wine festival is a great opportunity for wine-growers to present themselves to thousands of visitors from the region and promote their wines while serving local dishes.