Winegrowing in the Elbe valley dates back to 1161, although Bishop Benno of Meissen almost certainly planted vines in his diocese as early as 1100. The first plants to arrive in the region were probably brought by Frankish settlers or travellers. Production came properly on tap in the 16th century, and by the mid-17th, as much as 5,000 hectares of land had been devoted to winegrowing between the Elbe valley and the Lausitz (Lusatia). The next boost to the trade came in 1799, when the Saxon Winegrowers’ Association came into being and opened Europe’s first winegrowing college in Meissen in 1811. But it wasn’t all rosy: first came mildew, followed soon after by a devastating phylloxera plague which almost decimated the industry. In 1912, only 150 hectares of vines remained extant, shrinking to a mere 60 after the Second World War. Nor did much improve with the first decades of the GDR.