Tuesday, April 23, 2013

FairChoice Certified Wine in Germany: Weingut Joachim Flick in the Rheingau

Picture: Reiner Flick, Weingut Joachim Flick, and Christian G.E. Schiller in Hochheim

Weingut Joachim Flick in Floersheim-Wicker near Hochheim in the Rheingau was recently successfully FairChoice – which falls into the group of sustainable winemaking - certified. This posting profiles Weingut Joachim Flick.

“Green” Winemaking

There are many winemakers with an ecological mindset. These “green” winemakers, however, come in different colors. I recently tasted the Santa Julia wines of Familia Zuccardi, a winery that produces mass wines in Argentina with organic grapes. Argentina, in general, is very well suited for organic winemaking. The Donkey and Goat Winery in Berkeley produces wine according to the natural wine concept in the midst of the city of Berkeley without owning any vineyards.

Picture: Reiner Flick, Weingut Joachim Flick

Recently in Pamhagen in Austria in the stone cave below the winery with Werner Michlits of Weingut Meinklang, where Werner showed us his magic cow poop and other ingredients for biodynamic farming, I felt at the forefront of winemaking with an ecological mindset. “We practice sustainable agriculture in the vineyard” said Yann-Leon Beyer when I visited Domaine Leon Beyer in Alsace in France. The Leon Bayer bottles, however, do not carry a sustainability certificate.

For a primer on “green” winemaking see:
Organic, Sustainable, Biodynamic, Natural Wines … A Primer for “Green” Wines

Sustainable Winemaking

According to the University of California, sustainability in agriculture: “…integrates three main goals--environmental health, economic profitability, and social and economic equity. Sustainability rests on the principle that we must meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Therefore, stewardship of both natural and human resources is of prime importance.”

Although nowhere defined by law, there are many certifications available for “Sustainable Wine” in the world, including “FairChoice” in Germany. In general, the “New World” is considerably ahead of the “Old World” in terms of sustainable practices.

Hochheim in the Rheingau

Weingut Joachim Flick is in Hochheim (Floersheim-Wicker) in the Rheingau region. 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.

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.

Weingut Joachim Flick

Weingut Joachim Flick is owned and run by Reiner Flick. 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

Excellent Vineyard Portfolio

The vineyard portfolio of Weingut Joachim Flick is outstanding and includes the 2 monopolistic sites, Wickerer Nonnberg and Hochheimer Königin Victoriaberg.

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.

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.

Picture:  Hochheimer Königin Victoriaberg (in the center) and other Wines from Hochheim

See also:
Five Hochheim (Rheingau) Winemakers Presented their Vintage 2011 Wines in Hochheim, Germany

Weingut Joachim Flick Succesfully FairChoice Certified

A rigorous assessment of the approaches and methods of Weingut Joachim Flick by an independent company, DLG TestService, took place in January 2013. All requirements of the sustainability program set forth by FairChoice were met. The testing criteria include: carbon footprint management, proof of fair treatment of employees, business partners, and customers, successful operating figures, and the fulfillment of a catalog outlining ecological criteria.

Pictures: In Duesseldorf, Certification Ceremony

Professor Armin Gemmrich of the German Wine Institute for Sustainable Development at University of Heilbronn stated “at the Flick Winery, everything is in top condition and serves as a great exemplary model.” He went on “a positive point to take note of is the marginal greenhouse gas emissions through the usage of organic fertilizers. Weingut Joachim Flick entirely avoids utilizing synthetic mineral fertilizers which are produced through heavy energy usage. In a larger general frame of wine production, there are other topics at hand such as the glass bottles or Bag-in-Box which offer an area for improvement.”

Picture: FairChoice Label

Weingut Joachim Flick is the first member of the VDP (Association of German Prädikat Wine Estates) to have undergone and passed the arduous and comprehensive testing.

Reiner Flick: “With the 2012 vintage, our winery is now FairChoice certified. Our conducts at the winery are ecologically compliant, socially lawful, and economically bearing for the well-being of future generations to come. The future generations are indubitably entitled to a livable existence in which the preceding generation is responsible for. Exhaustive cultivation in the vineyards yields only temporary success. As winemakers, we are completely aware that the foundation of our lives lies heavily in the vineyards.”

Headwind (Gegenwind)

Recently in Hochheim, I had the chance to taste the 2011 Gegenwind (Headwind) wine, a joint venture of 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.”

Picture: Joachim Flick, Christian G.E. Schiller and Headwind/Gegenwind

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.

For more see:
Headwind (Gegenwind) – A Protest Wine against the Unbridled Exploitation of Culture and Nature Vendredi du Vin #52: Soyez Coopératif! – Vent Contraire: un Vin de Protest

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