Monday, September 13, 2010

70 Galleries – 200 Praedikat Wine Estates – 1000 Wines: Art and Wine in Berlin

Pictures: Christian G.E.Schiller at Gallery Caprice Horn and Brandenburg Gate in Berlin

Germany’s Prädikat Wine Estates – the members of the VDP (Verband Deutscher Praedikatsweingueter) - celebrated the 100th Anniversary of the VDP in 2010 in Germany’s Capital Berlin during September 4 to 6, 2010. I was happy and proud to participate.

In addition to the official ceremony in the Berlin Cathedral, there were a number of other events. I have provided a general run down on these events here. Clearly, the highlight of the other events was: 70 Galleries - 200 Winemakers - 1000 Wines. This posting deals in more depth with this exciting symbiosis of wine and art during the afternoon of September 5.


The VDP is the world’s oldest association of wine estates in the world. In fact, as Jancis Robinson said in her speech in the Berlin Cathedral, it is the only one of its kind in the world. No other country has a national organization of the top wine makers of the entire country.

Picture: VDP 100th Anniversary Wine Glass

In 1910, four regional wine-growers’ associations joined forces to form the Verband Deutscher Naturweinversteigerer (i.e. estates that sold their “natural” [unchaptalized] wines at auction). These organizations – from the Rheingau and Rheinhessen, founded in 1897 and 1900, respectively, and their counterparts in the Mosel-Saar-Ruwer and Pfalz regions, both founded in 1908 – were the forerunners of today’s VDP. At this time, fine German wines enjoyed a heyday. They numbered among the most expensive wines traded, and graced the tables of imperial houses as well as leading hotels and restaurants of the day.

Throughout the past century, the quality-driven goals and strict standards of the VDP have played no small part in shaping the viticultural and winemaking practices in Germany. With their stringent statutes and their establishment of a German vineyard classification, the 200 members of the VDP have served as role models and justifiably can be viewed as the vanguard of the nation’s producers of top-quality wines.

Germany’s prime white wine variety, Riesling, has long been the grape of choice for VDP members. Other, traditional varietals are also cultivated, e.g. the ancient white varietal Silvaner (particularly in Franken and Rheinhessen), and members of the Pinot family, including Germany’s all-important red wine grape, Spätburgunder , and the white wine grapes, Weiss- and Grauburgunder (Pinot Blanc and Pinot Gris, respectively).

Top Wines and Top Art in 70 Galleries

The VDP winemakers teamed up with 70 contemporary art galleries in Berlin and poured their wines there. Throughout the afternoon of September 5, wine and art lovers could either stroll from gallery to gallery and enjoy the modern art shows cum wine tastings. 5000 connoisseurs took advantage of this unique opportunity. The combination of fine wine and contemporary art was something quite special and extremely enjoyable.

As a novum for the VDP, Germany’s TV star Guenther Jauch, who bought the VDP Weingut Von Othegraven earlier this year, poured his wines in one of the galleries, along with Gunter Kuenstler and Weingut Rheingraf.

I heard in the art galleries from winemakers that both wine and art are an expression of the personality of their creator and thus are in a way quite similar. From this angle, fine wine is also a work of art, created by the winemaker.

I am not so sure about this comparison, because fine wine has at least 2 creators, mother nature and the winemaker. Proponents of the natural wine movement would even argue to leave as much as possible to mother nature would invite the winemaker to intervene as little as possible. But today’s advances in research allow the winemaker to go very far in terms of crowding out the impact of mother nature and impose his or her ideas on how the finished wine should be. Winemakers in the new world have perfected these skills. Anyway, in my view, the art of art-making is much more clear-cut than the art of wine-making. Wine is not only the product of the winemaker, but also of the terroir and the weather throughout the growing season, to name the 2 most important other factors.

Anyway, it was really fun to watch and discuss contemporary art with a glass of excellent wine in the hand or taste the wonderful VDP wines in such a stimulating and extraordinary environment.

Finally, the VDP a very nice catalog with 2 pages on each participating gallery and 1 page on the VDP winemakers. For Euro 5, it was a steal.

Pictures: Winemaker Lotte Pfeffer-Mueller (Weingut Brueder Dr. Becker) with Gallerist Frank Mueller in Gallery September

Pictures: Andreas Barth and Guenther Jauch (Weingut von Othegraven) and Annette Schiller with Gunther Kuenstler (Weingut Franz Kuenstler) at Gallery upstairs Berlin

Pictures: Katharina Pruem (Weingut J.J. Pruem) and Christian G.E.Schiller with Achim von Oetinger (Weingut Detlev Ritter und Edler von Oetinger - Zum Jungen Oetinger) at Gallery Buchmann

Pictures: Joachim Heger (Weingut Dr. Heger) and Caprice Horn at Gallery Caprice Horn

Picture: Christian G.E.Schiller with Nik Weis (Weingut St. Urbans-Hof)at Gallery Aurel Scheibler

Picture: Winemakers Mrs. and Friedrich Groebe (Weingut K.F.Groebe), Gallerist Ute Proellochs and Winemakers Martin Schwegler and Dr. Guenter Baeder Staatsweingut Weinsberg) at Gallery Charim Ungar Contemporary Berlin (CUC)


As part of the wine tastings in the art galleries, the VDP had arranged a Weinparcours. This was a highly interesting and fascinating educational self-guided tasting event, with 10 stations, each of them focussing on a different aspect. At one station you could try the same wine with different kind of waters and appreciate how the type of water impacts on how you perceive the wine. At another station, the same wine was in various glasses with different shapes and sizes and you could learn how the size of the glass impacts on how you perceive the wine. The most popular stations were those intended to show the impact of the terroir on the wine.
The Weinparcours was designed by Christina Fischer and Helena Mariscal Vilar.

Pictures: Weinparcours and Weinparcours Designers Christina Fischer and Helena Mariscal Vilar

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