The Moselle’s source is in the Vosges Mountains at a height of more than 2,400 feet above sea level. Downstream, the river has formed the Moselle Valley between the Eifel and Hunsrück mountain regions. Although a cruise only takes visitors just past where the river meets the Rhine, the entire river is approximately 340 miles in length from source to mouth.
The river flows through France, Luxembourg and Germany. For a long stretch, it forms the border between Germany and Luxembourg. It is a the longest tributary of the Rhine River, joining it at Koblenz. The Moselle Valley is an industrial area, with coal mining and steel manufacturing, and can accommodate large cargo ships. Developing the river into a navigable waterway was completed in 1964 in accordance with an agreement signed by Germany, Luxembourg and France. The river now carries much traffic in addition to cruise vessels and has 14 sets of locks and a shipping channel. Though the area is largely industrial, the Valley is also known for its beautiful scenery; the Moselle’s German portion features castles and vine-covered hillsides, and includes picturesque stops at Trier, Bernkastel, Cochem and Koblenz.
Excellent wines are produced in the Moselle River regions of Germany, Luxembourg and France, most notably Riesling, Elbling, Müller-Thurgau, Kerner and Auxerrois. The warm climate and high levels of sunshine in the river regions are particularly favorable for growing grapes, and wine has been made here for many generations. Probably even before the arrival of the Romans, wine was made from grapes picked from wild vines. When the Romans conquered the area around the river they brought with them cultivated vines from Italy. Aristocrats and monks founded vineyards here during the Middle Ages, and many of these vineyards still exist. Today, wines from the river region are mainly marketed by the vintners themselves, and nearly every village along the river has a wine festival. Sampling these wines is a favorite experience for many river cruise travelers.