I just returned from a cruise on the Rhine and Mosel rivers. Looking up at the vineyards on death-defying mountainsides gave me a greater appreciation for wines that I often find ho-hum.
One vineyard on the Mosel is on a 65-degree incline, making it the steepest vineyard in the world. There are more deaths among vineyard works in these regions than, say, the flat lands of Bordeaux. Occasionally, I saw a track that carried tools and buckets of grapes to a road atop the vineyard, but mostly it was obvious that workers had to prune and pick the grapes by hand.
Most confusing, was an array of vineyards that went alternately from horizontal to vertical. There was no obvious explanation. Vertically planted vines would open the vineyard to significant erosion in heavy storms. Many times the vines were trained on wire, thus allowing workers to move horizontally between plants. The horizontally planted vineyards also allowed workers to move horizontally — much safer, but I can’t imagine their shin splints.