According to Stephan Reinhardt's "The Finest Wines of Germany" the first generally recognized Spätlese vintage was in 1775, when Schloss Johannisberg picked late and made wine from the grapes that included rot. The results were so good that it didn't take long before Spätlese was recognized as a Riesling style in its own right.
Joe Roberts is the creator of the popular & award-winning website 1WineDude.com, which publishes wine reviews, interviews, & entertaining Op/Ed commentary on the wine world. He lives in Pennsylvania with his daughter Lorelai Kate. You can follow his exploits (and witty “mini” wine reviews) on twitter at twitter.com/1winedude & facebook at facebook.com/1winedude.