Franken or Franconia is furthest east of ther wine growing regions in western Germany, which makes its climate the least Atlantic and the most Continental.
The Main River and its tributaries provide vines with good irrigation, but unlike the Rhine, the Main does not provide a balanced climate. There are often quick changes in the weather which makes the life of the grapes in the vineyards - planted on the hilly slopes bordering the river - more difficult than in other regions .... but it results in a heartier wine. The hotter summers and briefer autumns particularly are responsible for this.
While the vine was historically densely planted in this area, the planting is today more broken up by other land uses, and probably only the best sites have survived as vineyards.
However, this region (which is actually northern Bavaria) is dotted with well-preserved imperial 'free towns' from the Middle Ages, since the region was well-placed to exploit emerging trade and technology during this era. This makes a trip here a rich cultural, as well as a vinous, experience, and can be enthusiastically recommended. Towns worth seeing include Würzburg, Regensburg, Nuremburg, Schweinfurt, and many others. This is the capital of the rich southern German Baroque architecture, with many earlier survivals from the Gothic and Romanesque periods as well.
Wines from the Franken region are traditionally very dry white wines. The Stein vineyard, near Würzburg, gave rise to the generic term "Steinwein" by which these wines have generally been known. The distinctive round-shaped, flat green bottle, called a "Bocksbeutel," is also an instant visual clue to their origins. The Bocksbeutel is reserved by law to this region and a small part of Baden that was historically connected to Franconia. However, not all Frankenweine are sold in Bocksbeutels, which can be difficult to cellar because of their shape.
There are three main regions in Franconia: The Mainviereck to the West, a quadrangular region whose main soil is red sandstone and which can make some superb red Spätburgunder wines, the Maindreieck, a triangular region in the center that includes the Würzburg area and which is predominately limestone, excellent for white wines, and the Steigerwald region to the East, a scattered, forested area whose soil is rich in gypsum and alabaster and which have a salty, mineral-laden style of their own.
Müller-Thurga, and Silvaner grapes are the principal varieties grown to produce these hearty, earthy dry wines often compared to white wines from France's Burgundy region, but which have a distinctive style and quality that is all their own. Müller-Thurgau and Silvaner both can make here wines of higher quality than is found anywhere else. The Silvaner wine is certainly a noble variety grown here on the best sites. The Rieslaner grape can grow especially well in this region.
Bacchus and Ortega grapes are are also grown in the region, often resulting in late harvest wines which are sweeter than the traditional Franken wines. Overall, Franken wines are usually consumed locally and not exported in great quantities, so if you're planning a trip through Franken, drink up! Interactive map on weinlagen.info