Ahr winemakers harvest a special vintage

Bad Neuenahr-Ahrweiler (dpa) – Eva Lanzerath cuts off grapes with her pruning shears in the vineyard above the Ahr and laughs: “The grape harvest is a special feeling that I can’t miss in any year, not even in this Corona – and flood year. »

The prospective elementary school teacher has just finished her term of office as 72. German Wine Queen ended. It comes from the Ahr valley, in the 14. and 15. July a flash flood after extremely heavy rain 133 killed people and destroyed a lot. 65 of the 68 wine-growing businesses in the river valley known as the red wine paradise are affected by the flood. Your total damage is estimated at 160 million euros. Nevertheless, Germany’s wine harvest is now in full swing here as well.

As the Rhineland-Palatinate wine-growing minister Daniela Schmitt (FDP) recently announced, there are around 32 of the 560 hectares of vineyards in the Ahr Valley have been completely washed away, partly meters deep. Further 15 hectares were so overrun by the flood that no more grapes could be harvested there this year.

Loud The managing director of the Ahr wine association, Knut Schubert, costs 1.2 to 1.5 million euros to set up a new wine-growing business. In the case of destroyed vineyards, new plantings cost around 60. 000 euros per hectare, In addition, no grapes could be harvested in the first three years.

According to Schubert, most of the Ahr winegrowers have no natural hazard insurance and were now hoping for reconstruction aid from the federal and state governments. Many damaged wineries are down in the river valley. Their vineyards, on the other hand, are often not impaired as higher and steep slopes in the valley.

Great solidarity among the winemakers

Federal Agriculture Minister Julia Klöckner (CDU), before 25 years herself German Wine Queen, spoke of the great solidarity of the winemakers from all regions of Germany and all over the world. Help came from all over the industry. Eva Lanzerath says: “Most of the cellars in the Ahr Valley have been restored or the winegrowers have come together and help each other or have rented halls. Everyone knows everyone here. ”

The flash flood in July also damaged thousands of vehicles in the Ahr Valley. According to Schubert, mobile workshops have repaired a number of vintner tractors, especially older models without a lot of electronics: “An unbelievable amount has been achieved there.” Wine presses and labeling machines have also been repaired or loaned out as replacements: “A lot has happened on official channels.”

There are also several fundraising campaigns for wineries and restaurants. For example, the “Flutwein” aid campaign, among others by the Ahrwein Association with local restaurateurs. According to the initiators, around 4.5 million euros were raised by the beginning of October. Almost 50. Supporters ordered about 175. 000 Bottles, outside «original sludge». Every single bottle is unique.

And the mood now at the grape harvest in the disaster area? Ex-Wine Queen Eva Lanzerath is “positively surprised”. The many volunteers contribute to this. Recently a 25 – headed group from Cologne helped her family. “They all had little idea about viticulture, but they were very interested,” reports the 23 – year-old. “After a short introduction, they had a lot of fun. Afterwards we all tasted the wine and everyone took a bottle with us, ”explains Lanzerath. “They also said: ‘After this work we appreciate wine a lot more.’”

Association manager Schubert expects a below-average harvest in the largest contiguous red wine region due to the “overall too humid weather this year” the republic. The German Wine Institute recently pointed to mostly good fruit sets nationwide, but also to regional fungal infestation caused by rain. Schubert expects the main harvest on the Ahr to be completed in about two weeks – depending on the weather.

Special microclimate

The narrow valley lies in the rain shadow of the Eifel. The heat builds up here in summer. In the vineyards, the sun heats the slate soils, which radiate the stored heat again at night. The Romans are said to have used this microclimate two millennia ago for the first wine-growing in the Ahr valley.

On sunny weekends in the Ahr valley, before the flash flood, pedestrian traffic jams on the 35 kilometer long red wine hiking trail. This meanders largely untouched by the tide high above the river from Bad Bodendorf to Altenahr through the vineyards. Its middle section is characterized by rugged rock faces, narrow gorges and partly listed vineyard terraces. At Marienthal the footpath leads over the former underground bunker of the federal government.

According to Schubert, on the weekends in October an attempt is made to stimulate tourism with wine stalls in the vineyards: but day tourism is possible again. ” Do day trippers and winemakers get in each other’s way during the grape harvest? “No,” says the manager. “With mutual respect, this is something normal again.”

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