Friday, January 25, 2013

Vendredi du Vin #52: Soyez Coopératif! – Vent Contraire: un Vin de Protest

Picture: Reiner Flick and Christian G.E. Schiller in Hochheim with a Bottle of 2011 Gegenwind

Gegenwind (Headwind, Vent Contraire) is a protest wines, made in a joint venture by 2 German elite winemakers – Gunter Kuenstler, Weingut Franz Kuenstler and Reiner Flick, Weingut Joachim Flick, both from Hochheim (Rheingau). With this wine, they joined a citizen movement in the greater Frankfurt am Main area “against the unbridled exploitation of culture and nature” as Reiner Flick put it and “in particular, against the expansion of the Frankfurt Airport.” Recently, a third landing strip was opened and the resulting increased noise in the Hochheim area from aircrafts landing at and taking off from Frankfurt Airport triggered the decision to make this wine and to contribute the proceeds to the non-profit organization Gegenwind 2011 Rhein-Main.

Picture: Frankfurt am Main, Germany

Vendredi du Vin #52 : en 2013, Soyez Coopératif !

This posting is being published as part of the Vendredis du Vin, a monthly blog event in France. Participating wine bloggers - mainly in France - are all releasing postings today under the same heading. This month's Vendredi du Vin is orchestrated by Eric Leblanc, who works as a Sommelier in Lambersart, a suburb of Lille, in the Northern Part of France.

Hochheim in the Rheingau and Frankfurt International Airport

Hochheim, where the 2 wine makers are from, is at the eastern edge of the Rheingau, well known around the world for its Riesling wines. Moving from Hochheim to the west, the fairly flat, dimpled landscape evolves into progressively steep slopes. It is a quietly beautiful region, rich in tradition.

Picture: The Rheingau

Queen Victoria's enthusiasm for Hochheim's wines contributed to their popularity in England, where they, and ultimately, Rhine wines in general, were referred to as Hock. The third President of the USA - and notable bon viveur - Thomas Jefferson visited the Rheingau in 1788 and wrote that the wine of the "Abbaye of Johnsberg is the best made on the Rhine without comparison … That of the year 1775 is the best." He also referred to the Rheingau’s Riesling as the "small and delicate Rhysslin which grows only from Hochheim to Rudesheim". Impressed by the quality of the Rheingau Riesling wines, he bought 100 grapevines in Hochheim to take back to his estate in Virginia.

Picture: Kloster Eberbach

Even though it belongs to the Rheingau, Hochheim is actually situated along the Main River. Its vineyards have amongst the best exposure and climate in all of the Rheingau. Hochheim is just 30 Minutes away by S-Bahn from Frankfurt am Main central railway station. Coming from Frankfurt, you arrive in vineyards and it is a beautiful walk up through the vineyards to the village.

Picture: Frankfurt Airport does not own the Skys

Joachim Flick: “The Flick and the Kuenstler families own vineyards in the thousand years old, culturally rich Rheingau region and live from and with winemaking. Both wineries generate jobs for more than 40 people each. The unbridled expansion of the Frankfurt International Airport goes at the expense of several hundred thousands of residents of the Rhein Main region, threating this area in a way that has never happened before”.

What is behind Reiner Flick and Gunther Kuenstler’s actions is their concern for the region and its living standard: "There will be a massive change in the structure of our towns and villages, if the noise level increases further, instead of going down: The people who can afford it will move away and those people who will move in will be looking for cheap living space. The lower income groups will settle here. Our clients who buy our wine will move away. This very divers region cannot be defined by the Frankfurt Airport alone. This is a dead end street” criticizes Reiner Flick.

Picture: Gunter Kuenstler with Christian G.E. Schiller

Gunther Kuenstler agrees: "I am concerned that this region will one day no longer be a rich region, neither in terms of resources nor in terms of people. The Rheingau region is an outstanding spot on earth that deserves to be protected. I am not one of these fellow citizens who participate in every protest movement. I only try to do the best for my family and my employees. Of course, we need an airport in the region but it should not be an airport that crowds out everything else.”

For more on Weingut Kuenstler, see:
Franz Kuenstler, Founder of the Renown Franz Kuenstler Estate in Hochheim, Rheingau, Germany, dies at Age 84
Franz Kuenstler, the founder of the Weingut Franz Kuenstler, was awarded an Honorary Lifetime Membership of the Weinfreundeskreis Hochheim, Germany
The Wines of Franz Kuenstler from Hochheim, Rheingau, Germany
Wine Video: German Top Wine Maker Gunter Kuenstler interviewed by Hendrik Thoma
World Class Wines in Hochheim, Rheingau, Germany - Weingut Kuenstler

Gegenwind/Headwind/Vent Contraire

Gegenwind is a non-profit organizations of about 40 lawyers, medical doctors, journalists and winemakers that was founded in January 2012 at the Flick Estate.

Joachim Flick and Gunther Kunstler produced 1200 bottles of the 2011 Gegenwind.

For more information, see the initial posting:
Headwind (Gegenwind) – A Protest Wine against the Unbridled Exploitation of Culture and Nature

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Headwind (Gegenwind) – A Protest Wine against the Unbridled Exploitation of Culture and Nature

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