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Luxembourg

The Grand Duchy of Luxembourg's wine-growing area covers about 1,333 hectares, or about 3,300 acres, which is smaller than some commercial vineyards in California.

All of Luxembourg's vineyards are concentrated along a 40-kilometer, or 25-mile, picture-book stretch of the Moselle River from Wasserbillig in the north to Schengen in the south. The Moselle rises in the Vosges mountains in France and flows serenely along between Luxembourg and Germany until Germany takes over both shorelines just north of Wasserbillig. There the river prudently changes its name to Mosel for its run down to the Rhine at Coblenz.

The Luxembourgers grow a laundry list of grapes, all of them white except for pinot noir, which makes a nasty red wine in these northern climes but proves useful in sparkling wine blends. The Luxembourgers, whose vineyards are not too far from the Champagne region, are proud of their cramant, a sparkling wine often made by the Champagne method but with less fizz.

The most widely planted grape in Luxembourg is rivaner, another name for Germany's commonplace Muller-Thurgau, a cross between riesling and sylvaner that produces inexpensive but rarely distinguished wines. Its main asset is that it ripens easily in such a difficult northern climate. Others grapes include pinot gris, pinot blanc, elbling, chardonnay, gewerztraminer, auxerrois and riesling itself.