From four to eleven – a brief history of the regional associations of the VDP

On 26 November 1910, wine estate owners, domain directors, and administrators from the three “noble” Rhine wine-growing regions – Rheingau, Rheinhessen, and Rheinpfalz – as well as from the Mosel, Saar, and Ruwer met in Koblenz to form the Verband Deutscher Naturweinversteigerer (VDNV), an association of estates that sold their “natural,” or unchaptalized, wines at auction.. The majority of trade and viticultural publications took no notice of the fact. One hundred years later, wines bearing the logo with the stylized eagle were not only world-renowned representatives of Germany’s unique wine culture. In the meantime, the world’s oldest national association of top wine estates also comprised estates with holdings in world-renowned vineyard sites throughout German wine country, from the Saar to the Main and from the Bodensee (Lake Constance) to Sachsen.

Kallmuth, Franken (c) Weingut Fürst Löwenstein

VDP.Rheingau e.V.

By 1897, most of the region’s distinguished wine estates, including the Royal Prussian Wine Domains and Schloss Johannisberg, had joined forces to form the Vereinigung Rheingauer Weingutsbesitzer. Its primary goal was to consolidate the scheduling of wine auctions based on the model of the three Trier auction consortiums and to establish uniform auction conditions. The association’s activities soon extended to matters related to local and national viticultural politics. Not only did the association have a lasting impact on viticultural legislation, it also helped create the Rheingauer Weinbauverband (Rheingau Wine-growers’ Association). In 1926, it’s 49 members cultivated 604 ha/nearly 1,500 acres) of vines, of which 130 ha/321 acres belonged to the Prussian domains. After the Second World War, the Rheingau association was among the first of the VDNV members to resume old traditions. The post-1949 auctions at Kloster Eberbach quickly regained their former status as events of national standing. In 1955, it was the Rheingau association that provided the impetus for the founding of the Vereinigung Fränkischer Naturweinversteigerer. At that time, the 43 member estates of the VDNV Rheingau had holdings in 542 ha/1,339 acres of vines. It often played a mediating role to help settle differences of opinion between growers in the Rheinpfalz and Mosel regions and it remains a bastion of stability to this day. Since the merger with the Charta group in 1999, the Rheingau regional association of the VDP has had more members and more vineyard holdings within a region than any other VDP regional association. The 1,098 ha/2,713 acres cultivated by its 41 member estates is equal to just over a third of the region’s entire surface devoted to vines.

Chairmen:

 

1897-1905 - Philipp Josef Krayer, Johannisberg
1905-1907 - Philipp Alexander Graf von Ingelheim, Geisenheim
1907-1915 - Josef Burgeff, Geisenheim
1915-1928 - Ulrich von Stosch, Oestrich
1928-1932 - Bernhard Grimm, Johannisberg
1992-1946 - Maximilian Ritter und Edler von Oetinger, Erbach
1946-1952 - Domänenrat Christian Labonte, Johannisberg
1952-1972 - Wolfgang Michel, Hochheim/Main
1972-1984 - Rentmeister Egon Mauer, Eltville
1984-1993 - Gerko Freiherr zu Knyphausen, Eltville
1993-1999 - Stefan Ress, Hattenheim
since 1999 - Wilhelm Weil, Kiedrich

To the website of the VDP Rheingau

 

 

VDP.Rheinhessen e.V.

In 1910, the Vereinigung Rheinhessischer Naturewein-Versteigerer with four members was by far the smallest of the VDNV founding regional associations. It included only estates with holdings "am roten Hang" (on the red slope) between Mainz and Nierstein when it was founded - probably in 1909. By the middle of the 1920s, membership had doubled to eight members, two of which were in Bingen. The members' vineyard area was listed as 10.6ha/26.19 acres. At the end of the 20s, with the admission of the Grand Ducal-Hessian Domain in Mainz, the association grew once again.
No records can be found to document whether or not members were able to continue to auction their wines individually or jointly during the Third Reich, and if so, for how long. In any case, probably no auctions were permitted along the Rhine as of 1940. After World War Two, the association reestablished itself, although it had never been formally dissolved. The designation “Naturwein” (natural wine) was banned with the new wine law of 1971. It is thanks to an impassioned speech by Peter von Weymarn of Weingut Heyl zu Herrnsheim/Nierstein that the dissolution of the national association was averted. He was also responsible for the foundation of the Rheinhessische Weinbörse (trade fair) in 1974, the forerunner of today’s Mainzer Weinbörse, which has been the largest trade fair for top-quality German wines for years. Today, the VDP.Rheinhessen comprises 15 estates that cultivate a total of 291 ha/719 acres, or about one percent of the region’s entire surface devoted to vines.

Chairmen:
1900-1924 - Carl Gunderloch, Nackenheim
1924-1942 - Oberstleutnant Fritz Liebrecht, Bodenheim
1942-1945 - Dr. Franz Usinger, Nackenheim
1948-1977 - Fritz-Rudolf Schulz, Gau-Bischofsheim
1977-1995 - Dipl.Ing. Friedel Waldeck, Nierstein
1995-2005 - Dr. Heinz von Opel, Ingelheim
since 2005 - Philipp Wittmann, Westhofen

Verein Pfälzer Prädikats- und Qualitätsweingüter e.V.

In 1908, prominent estates in the Rheinpfalz followed the example set by their Rheingau counterparts some eleven years earlier: the region’s natural wine producers formed an association. Among their members were not only the already renowned wine estates of the Mittelhaardt, such as Bassermann-Jordan, Bürklin-Wolf, and von Buhl, but also numerous wine-growers’ cooperatives that were committed to producing natural wines. In 1926, the membership of the Verein der Naturweinversteigerer der Rheinpfalz consisted of 52 estates with 56 ha/138 acres of vines. On the other hand, some 20 cooperatives cultivated 135 ha/334 acres. With the exception of the wine auctions, National Socialism and the Second World War had little effect on the activities of the association. During the post-war years, its chairman, Dr. Alfred Bürklin, was not only the president of the VDNV, but also one of the most respected and influental viticultural politicians of Germany until the end of the late 1960s. Cooperatives gave up their membership in the 60s. This, and the ban of the concept "natural wine” with the wine law of 1971 temporarily weakened the VDP Pfälz. However, during the past 20 years, it’s gotten back on its feet. Numerous new members as well as an extension of the membership area, from the northern Mittelhaadt to the Alsatian border in the southern Pfalz bear witness to the vitality of the regional association. Furthermore, a wine estate proprietor from Gimmeldingen, Steffen Christmann, has been the president of the national association since 2007. The 26 members of the VDP.Pfalz cultivate 648 ha/1,6012 acres of vines, or about three percent of the region’s entire surface devoted to vines.

Chairmen:
1908-1910 - Emil Bibel, Forst
1910-1913 - Leopold von Winning, Deidesheim
1913-1932 - Theodor Wand, Neustadt
1932-1939 - Dr. Albert Bürklin, Wachenheim a.d.W.
1939-1949 - Adam Kölsch, Ruppertsberg
1949-1963 - Dr. Albert Bürklin, Wachenheim a.d.W.
1963-1967 - Franz Schädler, Ruppertsberg
1967-1999 - Wolfgang Siben, Deidesheim
since 1999 - Hans-Jörg Rebholz, Siebeldingen

To the website of the VDP.Pfalz

Grosser Ring - VDP.Mosel-Saar-Ruwer e.V.

The union of wine estates of the Middle Mosel, Trier, and the Saar into three auction rings in the mid-1880s was more of a marriage of convenience than a love match. The goal was to attract the wine trade to Trier in an attempt to counter the concentration of the wine business along the Rhine and Main Rivers. Mosel wine soon became fashionable. The mayor of Trier, Albert von Bruchhausen, organized a merger of the three groups into a Grosser Ring (grand, or large, ring) in 1910. In the same year, he also became the first president of the VDNV – a position he held until 1934.

In the border region, the 42 members (1926) of the Trierer Verein von Weingutsbesitzern der Mosel, Saar, and Ruwer experienced the turbulent course of 20th-century German history up close. Twelve years of Belgian-French occupation of the Rhineland followed the four years of the First World War, to be followed by an additional six years of French occupation after the Second World War. Despite all the changes, the "Mosel” has consistently held on to its traditional convictions to this day. Of the 31 member estates of today’s VDP.Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, only two are located along the so-called “Terrassenmosel,” the steep, terraced slopes between Koblenz and Cochem. Among Germany’s larger wine regions, nowhere else is the proportion of steep slopes higher than in the Mosel. Nowhere else do naturally ripe, fruity Rieslings enjoy higher esteem. Its 408 ha/1,008 acres of vines account for ca. four percent of the region’s entire vineyard area. The region’s name was shortened to “Mosel” in August 2007. 

Chairmen:
1908-1935 - Oberbürgermeister (Mayor) Albert von Bruchhausen, Trier
1935-1963 - Alfons Claessens, Wawern
1963-1984 - Werner Tyrell, Trier-Eitelsbach
1984-2004 - Wilhelm Haag, Brauneberg
2004-2008 - Eberhard von Kunow, Oberemmel
since 2008 - Egon Müller, Wiltingen/Saar

To the website of the VDP.Mosel-Saar-Ruwer

VDP.Nahe e.V.

At the beginning of  the 20th century, there were no fewer wine auctions in the Nahe than in the other wine regions in the Rhine area. However, Nahe wines long shared the same fate as many of their counterparts from the Pfalz in that they were blended with wines of other regions and not marketed under their own name. No records are available to explain why a handful of estates in and around Bad Kreuznach waited until 1911 to form the Verein der Naturwein-Versteigerer an der Nahe and join the VDNV – one year after the VDNV was founded. There are also other puzzling developments in its history. Soon after the founding of the Federal Republic of Germany, wine auctions resumed in the Nahe as elsewhere, but the Nahe association was not reestablished and thus, was no longer a member in the VDNV. It was first in the 1970s that the VDP Nahe assumed its present form. Its membership has never exceeded ten estates. Today’s members cultivate 180ha/445 acres of vines in the region’s finest sites from Monzingen to the Rhine. Like the regional associations in the Mosel and Rheingau, the Nahe association conducts public wine auctions every autumn. Michael Prinz zu Salm-Salm of Weingut Prinz Salm/Wallhausen served as the president of the national organization between 1990 and 2007. During his term of office, he was instrumental in fostering higher quality in German viticulture. He was also untiring in his efforts to promote the “Riesling Renaissance.” He also played a prominent role in the creation of a VDP classification of top vineyard sites.

Chairmen:
1951-1990 - Egon Anheuser, Bad Kreuznach
1990-1991 - Michael Prinz zu Salm-Salm, Wallhausen
1991-1993 - Egbert Graf von Plettenberg, Bad Kreuznach
1993-2016 - Armin Diel, Burg Layen
since 2016 - Frank Schönleber, Monzingen

To the website of the VDP Nahe

VDP.Franken e.V.

It wasn’t until after the Second World War that renowned Natur-Weinversteigerer of Franken – above all, the grand, traditional estates in Würzburg: Juliusspital, Bürgerspital, and Staatlicher Hofkeller – formed an association. For inexplicable reasons, two prior attempts to consolidate the scheduling of wine auctions based on the Rhine and Mosel models failed. The first was during the founding phase of the VDNV before World War One; the second, during the interwar period. After 1945, it took another decade for the Franconians to address the consequences of the destruction of the important Jewish wine trade in Würzburg and Kitzingen as well as the loss of the markets in central and eastern Germany. Soon after its founding in 1955, and under the leadership of Albrecht Fürst zu Castell-Castell, the Vereinigung Fränkischer Naturweinversteigerer emerged as an uncompromising proponent of the natural wine concept. It regularly voted against the the Rhine associations’ intention to also market “improved” (chaptalized) wines under the guise of “emergency measures.” From a good handful of members in the beginning, the association grew to nearly 30 member estates in the 70s when estates that sold their wines directly were admitted. VDP.Franken growers cultivate 855 ha/2,113 acres of vines, or ca. 15 percent of the region’s total vineyard area (6,063 ha/nearly 15,000 acres).

 Chairmen:
1955-1958 - Karl Nägler, Würzburg
1958-1972 - Albrecht Fürst zu Castell-Castell, Castell
1973-1981 - Dr. Heinz-Martin Eichelsbacher, Würzburg
1981-1989 - Johann Ruck, Iphofen
1989-1993 - Rudolf Frieß, Würzburg
1993-1998 - Wolfgang Graf zu Castell-Castell, Castell
1998-2004 - Ferdinand Erbgraf zu Castell-Castell, Castell
2004-2007 - Carl Friedrich Erbprinz zu Löwenstein, Wertheim
2007-2014 - Karl Martin Schmitt, Randersacker
since 2014 - Paul Fürst, Bürgstadt am Main

To the website of the VDP.Franken

VDP.Württemberg e.V.

In Württemberg, wine auctions were never the norm: Nearly all the wines were consumed by the Swabians themselves. Quality Württeberg wines remained virtually unknown outside the region until the early 1970s, when a number of VDP estates showed their commitment to changing the situation. The logical consequence was the founding of the VDP Württemberg in 1975. Today, its 15 members cultivate 331 ha/818 acres of vines, including the local red wine grape Lemberger, known as Blaufränkisch in Austria, which no longer has to take a back seat to Spätburgunder.

Chairmen:
1975-1985 - Raban Graf Adelmann, Kleinbottwar
1985-1993 - Michael Graf Adelmann, Kleinbottwar
1993-1997 - Eberhard Dippon, Beilstein
1997-2000 - Dr. Jürgen Dietrich, Ludwigsburg
2000-2015 - Gert Aldinger, Fellbach
since 2015 - Markus Drautz, Heilbronn

To the website of the VDP.Württemberg

VDP.Baden e.V.

In Baden, the founding of an association of Naturweinversteigerer took place at about the same time that the Baden government decided to support efforts to raise viticultural standards by founding the Baden Wine Institute in 1920. In spring 1922, a Verein Badischer Naturwein-Versteiger became the sixth member association of the VDNV. Baden, Germany’s third largest wine-growing region, stretches from the Bodensee (Lake Constance) to the Bergstrasse and from Markgräferland to the Main River. As such, solidarity within a region of this size could never be taken for granted. Indeed, the association strived to conduct joint auctions; it had 19 members in 1935; and soon after 1945, it resumed its work. However, at the end of the 1960s, it more or less fell apart. It assumed its present form in the mid-1980s. Today, its 16 member estates cultivate a total of 293 ha/724 acres of vines, which is equal to nearly two percent of the region’s total vineyard area.

Chairmen:
1986-1999 - Rüdiger Graf Hoensbroech, Angelbachtal-Michelfeld
1999-2000 - Adrian Graf Hoensbroech, Angelbachtal-Michelfeld
2000-2009 - Claus Burmeister, Sulzfeld
since 2009 - Joachim Heger, Ihringen

To the website of the VDP.Baden

VDP.Mittelrhein e.V.

The Mittelrhein between Bingen and Koblenz has long been THE epitome of Rhine Romanticism. Since its founding in 1987, the VDP Mittelrhein has numbered among the VDP’s smallest regional associations.The original seven member estates – all from Bacharach. were ultimately augmented by two additional estates  – one in Oberwesel and one in Spay – that agreed to adhere to the VDP’s stringent quality regulations. At present, there are six members who cultivate 48 ha/nearly 120 acres of the region’s 461 ha/1,139 acres of vines. The vineyard sites in which VDP members have holdings not only number among the region’s finest, but are also world heritage sites in the true sense of the word.

Chairmen:
1987 - 1998 Fritz Bastian, Bacharach
1998 - 2010 Jochen Ratzenberger, Bacharach
since 2010 - Jochen Ratzenberger Junior, Bacharach

VDP.Sachsen/Saale-Unstrut e. V.

After German reunification in 1990, very few wine-growers took steps to operate independently (rather than as members of a cooperative). Even fewer thought the time was right to orient their endeavors along the lines of the top-quality producers of the VDP. However, in 1996, with the support of the VDP Franken regional association, two estates joined the VDP: Weingut Lützkendorf of Bad Kösen/Saale-Unstrut and Schloss Proschwitz-Prinz zur Lippe/Sachsen. This duet became a trio in 2001, when Weingut Pawis of Freyburg an der Unstrut/Saale-Unstrut followed suit. In spring 2010, Weingut Klaus Zimmerling of Pillnitz/Sachsen joined the trio. On 26 November 2010, the centennial of the founding day of the VDP/VDNV, the VDP.Sachsen/Saale-Unstrut was the tenth regional association to join the national association, thereby completing the picture of top-quality viticulture throughout Germany’s wine-growing regions.

Chairmen:

since 2010 - Dr. Georg Prinz zur Lippe, Proschwitz

VDP.Ahr e. V.

In the global scope of viticulture today, 58 ha/143 acres of vines is a drop in the bucket. In Germany alone, more and more estates individually cultivate a far larger vineyard area than the combined holdings of the six VDP members of the Ahr wine-growing region. Nevertheless, their vineyards between Mayschloss and Bad Neuenahr not only accounted for more than ten percent of the region’s total viticultural area – as specialists in Spätburgunder (red) wines, these Ahr growers also“added color” to the VDP. From 1994 on they  affiliated themselves with the VDP.Nahe. In 2017 the six estates founded their own official regional association.

Chairmen:

since 2017 - Marc Adeneuer, Bad Neuenahr-Ahrweiler