Germany Wants a Vine-Pull Scheme, a Halt to Further Planting and More Piwis

With 191 exhibitors and around 4,000 local and international visitors, the 50th VDP Weinbörse trade fair broke all previous records. Germany's Food and Agriculture minister, Cem Özdemir used it as an opportunity to share his plans for the wine industry. The VDP was only partly convinced.

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German Minister of Agriculture, Cem Özdemir wants more commitment to Piwis (Photo: Alexandra Wrann)
German Minister of Agriculture, Cem Özdemir wants more commitment to Piwis (Photo: Alexandra Wrann)

In the context of what he called the "challenging situation for German viticulture," Cem Özdemir held out the prospect of a halt to further planting in Germany and a European uprooting program. Discussions with other EU members are underway, he said. The guiding principle for German viticulture should be quality rather than quantity.

The suggestion that the European-funded uprooting schemes already seen in France could also be useful for Germany is increasingly being voiced. In its catalogue of demands for the European Parliament elections, the German Winegrowers' Association - DWV - calls for a ban on new planting, a viner-pull scheme and ways for people to leave the profession in a socially responsible way. "The industry needs to find a new balance where supply meets demand in the long term," wrote Christian Schwörer, DWV General Secretary in February 2024.

France in particular is currently advocating for these kinds of national and EU-level programs. So far, the EU has pledged France €160m to pull up vineyards. And the French Minister for Agriculture promised €230m in funding at the last Millésime Bio in Montpellier as emergency help and to fund a vine-pull scheme.

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VDP as a Piwi pioneer?

Back to Mainz, at the VDP wine fair, Özdemir also addressed sustainability. He praised the VDP as an innovator and pioneer while calling on it to advance the topic of fungus-resistant Piwis varieties.

So far, these have not yet been a focus for the VDP, as the association confirmed to Meininger Verlag: "The VDP is open-minded and positive towards Piwis. However, we believe they are still on their way, especially in terms of their distinctiveness, expression and perfect suitability for certain terroirs." Only when Piwis could replace traditional varieties to the extent that "the identity of our valuable appellations is unmistakably reflected and a statement on ripeness can be made, will engagement in the rare top locations be conceivable." Moreover, the actual long-term resistance of the varieties to diseases has not yet been confirmed. Rejecting the minister's request, the spokesperson continued "As VDP, we naturally support the path towards Piwis, we are pleased with all the progress and increase in knowledge; unfortunately, we can hardly be pioneers due to our origin-based production." .

Steffen Christmann

 

"It is not possible to produce cheap wine and at the same time to protect nature and pay fair wages."

 

Steffen Christmann
VDP President

Outlook on market development and prices

In his opening speech, VDP President Steffen Christmann also expressed optimism despite the numerous challenges, both economic and ecological, facing German viticulture. "The crisis does not leave the VDP untouched – but its members are proving much more resilient than the rest of the industry," he says.

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However, the price structure in the German market remains his core issue. More exports are one answer, as it is not possible in Germany to charge enough to cover production costs. A "renaissance of quality viticulture" is necessary; "cheaper and more" would backfire on the industry. It must be "recognized that appellations deliver different qualities, from top wines to simple table wine." The profile of any wine from entry-level to the top must be clearly understandable to consumers, even in New York or Tokyo, said Christmann.
 

New advertising campaign for young talent

At Weinbörse, the VDP also launched its latest advertising campaign: The focus is on young talent. For the VDP with its total of 130 training companies, this is an important topic. To communicate about the profession attractively, all 200 member winemakers have explained in short statements why they chose their job. These statements will be gradually used in social media channels, but were also the core of an campaign with limited-edition magnums recently launched by the VDP. A public auction of these wines raised around €60,000 which is to be used for scholarships, among other things, said Christmann. 

AW/AZ

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