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Germany, or rather the area that is now part of it, has a wine culture that is over two thousand years old. But even before that, imported wine was drunk, as evidenced by a Greek clay wine bottle from around 400 BC found in a Celtic grave. The oldest vineyards were on the banks of the Rhine, Neckar and Moselle. These rivers with their long valleys, as well as their tributaries, are still the classic wine-growing areas today. Viticulture was founded by the colonisation of Gaul by the Greeks and then brought to perfection by Roman culture. The conquest of Gaul by Julius Caesar (100-44 BC) brought Roman viticulture from the Rhône valley to the Rhine.

The Roman Emperor Probus (232-282) contributed to the further expansion of vineyards by promoting measures. In the 5th century, viticulture was already so widespread in the area of present-day Germany that Clovis (466-511) enacted the so-called "Salic Law", which made the theft of a vine a punishable offence. In the 6th and 7th centuries, viticulture spread to southern and northern Germany. The Frankish king Dagobert I (610-639) is attested in documents as a donor of vineyards to churches and monasteries. Winegrowing in the Palatinate is attested by a document of King Siegbert III from the year 653, and in the 8th century well over a hundred winegrowing communities in the Palatinate are already mentioned.

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