Against the Odds: VDP Satisfied With a Challenging 2023

The gap is widening in the association. The economic performance of the wineries varied greatly in 2023 - but was positive overall.

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Place de la Bourse in Bordeaux (Photo: Alexander Demyanenko/
Place de la Bourse in Bordeaux (Photo: Alexander Demyanenko/

A VDP winery achieved an average annual turnover of €2.3m in 2023. The turnover of all wineries totalled around €460m. According to the VDP's latest management report, there's a divergence within the association: approximately half of the wineries noted an increase in sales compared to the previous year, while the remaining half experienced a decline in sales.

There were relatively few shifts in sales shares. As in the previous year, 73% of bottles were sold within Germany, with the remainder being exported.

In Germany, sales through proprietary online stores experienced a slight uptick, rising from 12% to 14%, with nearly half of the wineries noting growth in this sector. Conversely, the sales share within grocery retail witnessed a notable decline, plummeting from 9% to 5.5%, mirroring the trend observed in the sales share of external online stores, which dropped from 10% to 5%. Stable sales figures are reported in the specialist trade and gastronomy. One in five bottles was sold directly to restaurants, with one third of businesses reporting rising, stagnating and falling sales respectively.

Base and top wines to surge

The price level of Ortswein (equivalent to Village) and Erste Lage (equivalent to Premier Cru) wines remained at the previous year's level. Estate wines became slightly more expensive, from an average of €11 to €11.50 a bottle. They accounted for almost half of all bottle sales (49.5%). There was also an upward trend observed for Grosse Gewächse (GG, equivalent to Grand Cru) wines, with the average bottle price increasing to €40 in 2023 from €37 in 2022. Nearly one in ten VDP bottles sold was a GG, representing a 9% share of sales.

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Roughly a quarter of the wines (27%) continued to be exported. In this regard, the VDP demonstrated stability against the overall declining trend — 41% of the businesses were able to increase their export sales, with only 26% experiencing a decline in export numbers.

"Fortunately, the resilience of VDP wineries is very high due to the profile they have built over the past decades and their focus on quality. Therefore, despite the challenges, we are optimistic about the future," said VDP President Steffen Christmann on the current situation.

"Specialist vintage" with good qualities - and 40% organic

The 2023 vintage is said to go down in history as a "specialist vintage". The challenging weather conditions required a great deal of attention, care and experience. The harvest was extremely fast, with estate and single-vineyard wines ripening at practically the same time. However, the result was exceptionally good: "The wines have just the right amount of fruitiness, with an invigorating acidity, resulting in a robust character," said Christmann.

In 2023, 40% of the VDP vineyard area was cultivated organically (some are still in conversion), accounting to 82 responsible wineries. 13 VDP wineries even work biodynamically, on a total of 427.5 hectares of vineyards. 65 wineries have a sustainability certificate - they cultivate around 45% of the VDP vineyard area.

First VDP Wine in a Returnable Bottle

At the end of last year, the Baden state winery in Freiburg launched a VDP wine in a returnable beer bottle for the first time. Instead of the 0.75-litre disposable glass bottle, the VDP local wines were filled in the 0.5-litre deposit bottle, which is also used for beer. 

The advantage: significantly lower CO₂ emissions compared to the non-returnable glass bottle, up to 60%. "Customer reactions have been consistently positive so far," said plant manager Kolja Bitzenhofer, adding that the product was also very well received by the trade public at the recent VDP Weinbörse. The first 3,000 small bottles were sold out after just three weeks, meaning that they had to be refilled - with the Freiburg brewery Ganter as a partner.

The 2021 Pinot Noir, the 2022 Pinot Blanc Blankenhornsberg, and three estate Piwi wines (fungus-resistant wines) are now available in this container, alongside the conventional 0.75-liter bottle. Bitzenhofer estimates that a total of approximately 40,000 returnable bottles will enter the market this year.


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