50 Years Anniversary: VDP celebrates half a century of VDP.Weinbörse in Mainz

From Sunday 28 to Monday 29 April, the Association of German Prädikat Wine Estates / Verband Deutscher Prädikatsweingüter (VDP) is inviting visitors to the VDP. Weinbörse in the Rheingoldhalle in Mainz. This year, the largest international trade fair for top German wines is being held in a very special year. Because 2024 marks the 50th year of the trade show. For the first time, 191 of the 200 VDP members will be represented with their new vintage collections. Over 3,000 trade visitors are expected over the two days. 


The importance of the VDP.Weinbörse is also reflected in this year's guests. After the anniversary speech by VDP President Steffen Christmann and a greeting from the Mayor of Mainz, Nino Haase, the Federal Minister for Food and Agriculture, Cem Özdemir (Bündnis90/Die Grünen), will open the event. Özdemir's visit is particularly significant in view of the new German Wine Act, which has existed since the 1970s, is considered outdated in parts and is now undergoing a comprehensive amendment for the first time. Special guests of honour, supporters and the most important representatives of the wine industry and the international wine world will also be part of the exchange, including, for example, Jancis Robinson, holder of the golden VDP pin of honour. 

The history of the VDP is also the history of German wine 

The anniversary provides an opportunity to look back at how the VDP has significantly contributed to and driven the development of German wine back to the top of the world. This will be shown in a film review of 50 years of the VDP.Weinbörse: Half a century on course: from association to annual industry get-together, which will be published on the VDP website on Sunday. 

 

Click here for the anniversary article by Dr. Daniel Deckers: Fifty Years at the VDP Mainzer Weinbörse

The VDP.Weinbörse, which has become an integral part of the events organized by top German wineries, has come a long and sometimes hard way. Since lipstick was banned for women because there was only ever one glass for everyone at the stands, eleven wineries at the first event and wines that only just reached the level of today, a lot has changed and the VDP Wine Exchange has become one of the most important presentations of top German wines worldwide. It demonstrates the community within the association and the members' common goal of positioning themselves as producers of top wines. Young wineries and new members are represented, as well as leading names that have given German wine the reputation it has today. However, the Wine Exchange is not only a mouthpiece for VDP members, but also a compass for structural change and further development.

This was not always the case: looking back, German wine had a difficult time after the two world wars following a period of international recognition at the beginning of the 20th century. By the 1960s, the annual wine auctions in the traditional "quality regions" of Rheingau, Palatinate, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer and the Rheinhessen Rhine river front had lost their economic significance - from then on, they marketed their wines themselves. Initially, this was more of a failure than a success, as German wine, and in particular Riesling, which had previously been appreciated worldwide, had a rather modest reputation in the post-war period due to oenological tricks such as the use of sweet reserves to make sour Riesling and many poor vintages in the 1960s. This also led to a decline in cohesion between the winegrowing businesses. The Verband Deutscher Naturweinversteigerer (VDNV), founded in 1910, a predecessor organisation of the VDP, which, for example, rejected the sugaring of wines and referred to "natural" winemaking, became increasingly less important. There was even talk of dissolving the organization. 

A new format was needed that would once again emphasize the quality of German wine in the spirit of the VDNV. In order to avert the dissolution of the VDNV once again, Peter von Weymarn from the Nierstein estate Heyl zu Herrnsheim visited the chairmen of several regional associations to convince them to stick to a co-operation and maintain the representation of the interests of the top wineries in Germany. This visionary step ultimately gave rise to the "Association of German Prädikat Wine Auctioneers". However, there were no new major events for the time being. Initially focussing on the Rheinhessen region, Weymarn began to make plans for a "Rheinhessen Riesling Weinbörse", at which the members of the association would have the opportunity to present themselves. This led to the first wine exchange organized in Mainz in 1974 with the participation of the VDP Rheinhessen, which was then already known as the "Verband Deutscher Prädikatsweingüter".  The idea was to offer only producer bottlings. The grape eagle, the quality mark of the VDP since 1926, was intended to inspire confidence and guarantee a minimum level of quality.  At the premiere in May 1974, eleven wineries took part with 105 wines and a total volume of around 305,000 bottles. At the premiere, some of the wineries labelled their bottles with a neck ribbon bearing the words "Mainzer Weinbörse", which later became the title of the event. 

Former Federal Minister of Economics Rainer Brüderle (FDP), who was the city of Mainz's business promoter at the time, together with Lord Mayor Jockel Fuchs, saw the VDP event as an opportunity to raise Mainz's public profile as a wine city, which in retrospect proved to be one of the best free advertising measures the city could have had. 

The success of the VDP.Weinbörse has been unstoppable since its premiere. In the years that followed, more and more wineries from other VDP regional associations joined in. Apart from the VDP's traditional top wine auctions, there was no other event in Germany where wineries from (increasingly) several regions could present themselves to an expert audience at the same time. There were also no internal VDP events at which the wines of the individual regions were presented. 

In addition to its importance for the trade, as the VDP.Weinbörse gives an impression of the quantity and quality of the vintage, the fair has also become a seismograph for trends, difficulties and crises in the wine industry. As a result, the VDP.Weinbörse has increasingly become a mouthpiece for winegrowing policy issues, which the VDP presidents regularly address in their greetings. 

What has been unique about the event ever since is that critical issues are openly addressed during the opening. 

In the meantime, the VDP.Weinbörse has become one of the most important trade fairs for the wine industry in Germany and abroad, which would be unthinkable without the VDP. This is why the number of wineries participating in the Wine Exchange has also changed considerably. In the anniversary year 2024, almost all of the 200 VDP members will be exhibiting in Mainz. 

 

If you have any questions, please contact:

VDP.Die Prädikatsweingüter 
Hilke Dahlem 
h.dahlem@vdp.de 
+49 (0) 173-9215916 

©VDP by Peter Bender