Jahrtausendwein 1540

The Jahrtausendwein Unknown author, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The Rare Vintage of the Millennium Wine 1540

The “Jahrtausendwein” is a “once-in-a-millennium” vintage wine, a very valuable Riesling wine from the Würzburger Stein vineyard, Würzburg, Germany of 1540. The year of 1540 is mostly known for its desastrous drought in Central Europe. The drought was an extreme climatic event with diverse effects on natural areas and human communities over elven months.


Due to the desastrious effects of the drought vintners believed their harvest to be lost as many other crops that year.  The vineyards produced mostly shriveled and dried grapes that though produced an extraordinary and delicious wine. The heat created a millennium wine with an extremely high sugar content that was described as “so excellent” that it was preferred to foreign wines. 

When the vintners in Würzburg harvested the so-called Kaiserwein in 1540 the quality of the Würzburger Steinwine was described as the best of the past millennium and is probably comparable to modern-day Trockenbeerenauslese. “It looks like gold in the glass,” described one chronicler the “Jahrtausendwein”.

When the Swedes occupied Würzburg in 1631, they searched in vain for the famous wine. The citizens of  Würzburg though hid and buried the wine in the forest, and unfortunately forgot its location. It took another 52 years to recover the wine that was then stored in the famous “Schwedenfass“, the “Swedish barrel”.

Some bottles of the “Jahrtausendwein” of have survived to this day, for example one is behind glass in the treasury of the Würzburg Bürgerspital zum Heiligen Geist. In 1966 scientists and selected people opened one bottle and determined that the wine was still drinkable, and gave a glimpse of the famous “Jahrtausendwein”.

Read also about the famous “The Master Draught” and the oldest known wine bottle.

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