Wednesday, August 22, 2012

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

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

Recently in Hochheim in the Rheingau, near Frankfurt am Main, I had the chance to taste the 2011 Gegenwind (Headwind) wine, a joint venture of 2 German elite winemakers – Gunter Kuenstler, Weingut Franz Kuenstler and Reiner Flick, Weingut Joachim Flick. This is their contribution to a citizen movement in the 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. The wine is sold for Euro 9,50 at the two wineries.

Hochheim in the Rheingau

Hochheim 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: Map of 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: Eberbach Abbey

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.

Reiner Flick, Gunter Kuenstler and Gegenwind

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”.

Pictures: Reiner Flick and 2011 Gegenwind

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.

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.”


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.

Picture: Frankfurt Airport does not own the Skys

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

Weingut Joachim Flick

Weingut Joachim Flick is located in the “Strassenmuehle” (Street Mill) in Floehrsheim Wicker. The vineyard area totals 19 hectares with Riesling accounting for 85%. Annual output is 12.000 cases. Weingut Joachim Flick has been a member of the VDP since 1999.

Pictures: Weingut Joachim Flick

The Grosse Lagen/Grand Cru Vineyards are:

Wickerer Nonnberg (solely owned) – the vineyard was mentioned for the first time, when the Abbey of Retters in the Taunus Mountains exchanged vineyards with the Abbey of Tiefenthal in the Rheingau on January 13, 1281. Later, it was owned by the Herzogtum Nassau. Since 2004, Weingut Flick owns the vineyards.

Pictures: Reiner Flick in Hochheim

Hochheimer Königin Victoriaberg (solely leased) – since 2010, Weingut Flick leases the entire Koenigin Victoriaberg in Hochheim. Queen Victoria visited Hochheim in 1845 and was treated to a winetasting at the “nicest and best vineyard”. Five years later, the British Queen granted the owner of the vineyard the right to name the vineyard Queen Victoria Vineyard.

Wickerer Mönchsgewann

Hochheimer Hölle

Weingut Franz Kuenstler 

Weingut Franz Kuenstler is one of Germany’s world class wine producers. It has 5 F’s (out of 5) in the Feinschmecker WeinGuide 2011 ranking. The Wine Estate is currently run by Gunter Kuenstler, who took over from his father Franz a number of years ago. Basically, until the late 1980s Franz was in charge and from the early 1990s on, the Kuenstler wines were made by Gunter.

Pictures: Weingut Franz Kuenstler and Gunter Kuenstler with Christian G.E. Schiller

The wine growing tradition of the Künstler family can be traced back to Southern Moravia in 1648. After the Second World War, the Künstlers had to leave their home in what is now the Czech Republic and the head of the family, Franz Künstler, laid the foundations in Hochheim for what was to become one of the most successful family businesses in the Rheingau.

Pictures: Gunter Kuenstler in Hochheim

I remember very well the small row house in Hochheim that was the initial home of the Kuenstler winery. And I remember very well the wonderful tastings we had at the Kuenstler estate. All my life I have been buying Kuenstler wines and there is quite a number of Kuenstler bottles in my wine cellar in McLean, Virginia.

Gunter Künstler bought the Geheimrat Aschrott'sche Erben wine estate in Hochheim in 1996 and in doing so acquired a major share in the very best vineyard locations in Hochheim. Recently, as another giant leap, the Kuenstler estate moved into the former Burgeff Sektkellerei, just at the entrance of Hochheim, when you come from Mainz. It is very impressive.

Franz Kuenstler

I met Franz Kuenstler more than 30 years ago, when I used to live in Mainz, Germany. Hochheim is very close to Mainz and my wife and I developed a special relationship with the winemakers of Hochheim. That was boosted by the Weinfreundeskreis Hochheim – a wine brotherhood – whose founding members Franz, my wife and I are.

Pictures: The late Franz Kuenstler with Annette Schiller at a Weinfreundeskreis Hochheim Tasting

When my wife and I married in 1976, we bought many cases of Rieslings of this year from Franz. At that time, his winery was still in a regular house in Hochheim, I think it was a row house. When we moved to the US in 1983, all the Kuenstler wine came over here by ship. Most of bottles are gone, but I still have a few 1976 Beerenauslese.

Earlier Postings on schiller-wine about Weingut Kuenstler 

Here are earlier postings about Weingut Kuenstler on schiller-wine.

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

schiller-wine - Related Postings

“Hoffest” (Winery Party) at Weingut Heinrich Baison in Hochheim, Rheingau - Best of Riesling 2010 Award Winner

Best German Wines – Gault Millau WeinGuide Deutschland 2012

Germany’s Top 100 Winemakers – Handelsblatt online and Vinum 2011

German Spaetlese Wines Can Come in Different Versions. I Have Counted Five.

Phil Bernstein’s Third Annual German Riesling Tasting with the German Wine Society, Washington DC Chapter - Rieslings With a Touch of Sweetness

Visiting Agnes and Fritz Hasselbach at their Weingut Gunderloch in Nackenheim, Rheinhessen, Germany

Visiting Weingut Josef Leitz in Ruedesheim – Johannes Leitz is Germany’s Winemaker of the Year, Gault Millau WeinGuide 2011

Impressions from the Riesling and Co World Tour 2010 in New York

When Americans Drink German Wine - What They Choose

German Wine Basics: Sugar in the Grape - Alcohol and Sweetness in the Wine

JJ Pruem Goes Supermarket: Meeting Katharina Pruem and Tasting the Incredible JJ Pruem Wines at Wegmans

The Focus on Dry German Riesling – Daniel Hubbard Presents the German DSWE Portfolio to the German Wine Society (Washington DC Chapter)

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

Christian G.E. Schiller Leads Tasting of US-American Wines in Hochheim, Germany

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