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International Space Station Imagery
Moselle River Gorge, Germany
high res (1.0 M) low res (64 K)
ISS016-E-030127 (17 Feb. 2008) --- Moselle River Gorge, Germany is featured in this image photographed by an Expedition 16 crewmember on the International Space Station. The Moselle (Mosel in German) is the best known of the thirteen German wine-growing regions. The beautiful scenery of this part of the Moselle makes it a popular tourist destination. The white Riesling grape in particular produces some of the best wines in this cool region of northern Europe. Riesling vines represent almost 60 per cent of the vineyards in the Middle Moselle valley shown here. This detailed image (width represents a distance of only 14.5 kilometers) shows the winding Moselle River flowing north (left to right). The river has cut a gorge more than 300 meters deep in places into a relatively flat plateau (covered mainly in dark green forests, with some large agricultural fields). Because this is one of the coolest places in Europe where vines grow, the warmer valley microclimates below the exposed and higher plateau are key to growing vines. Within the narrow and very steep valley, those slopes which face south and west are best for grapes. The north-facing slopes not only receive less direct sunshine, but the deep shadows of the canyon walls fall on them sooner in the day--note shadows on the canyon wall opposite Kroev and elsewhere where they make the river difficult to see. The vine-covered slopes, with very small plot sizes, appear as light grays and light greens along most of the gorge slopes. In this view, slopes around the villages of Kroev, Kuess, and Maring enjoy the best south-facing aspect. Solar energy for vine growth is so limited that even the reflected light from the river surface is known to help the vines--an effect that again favors mainly south-facing slopes. The landscape character has also affected wine prices. Less favored slopes have been planted with hardier grapes of lower quality. This in turn has sometimes reduced prices somewhat for all Moselle wines. The slopes are so steep that mechanical means cannot be used to harvest the grapes. The village of Bremm just outside the picture top right, has the steepest documented vineyard in the world, with vines growing on a 65-degree slope. Manual handling is thus very important for the industry, and unfortunately the Moselle region leads in fatal accidents. Safety for farm workers is thus a major priority for wine growers.

Curator: JSC PAO Web Team | Responsible NASA Official: Amiko Kauderer | Updated: 10/30/2012
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