Classification has long been a tool, practiced by virtually all significant winemaking regions the world over, for recognizing top vineyards. The Rheingau is no different, especially since its top vineyards have always enjoyed a tremendous global reputation.
As the 19th century drew to a close, several German winemaking regions began looking to the Bordeaux classification of 1855 for inspiration. They championed the creation of winegrowing maps incorporating the basic structure of the French system yet leaning heavily on their own reconstitution in 1866 as administrative districts of the Prussian empire. Friedrich Wilhelm Dünkelberg's book "Der nassauische Weinbau" (1867) put the Rheingau at the forefront of this movement through charts that divided the region’s vineyards into "1st, 2nd and those of lower class." The Dünkelberg map of the Rheingau is today hailed as the world's oldest site-based classification map, and lists the "Grävenberg" in Kiedrich as a "Wine Site 1st Class."
All subsequent classification efforts from the late 19th and 20th centuries originate from that map, including the VDP classification of 2012, which prioritizes "terroir" as a central pillar for quality. It establishes a hierarchy of wine that ranges from VDP.GUTSWEIN to VDP.ORTSWEIN to VDP.ERSTE LAGE® and VDP.GROSSE LAGE®.