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German producers score own goal

Published:  23 July, 2008

By Christian Davis
German wine is the official wine of the FIFA World Cup, currently being played out, and producers and suppliers have scored an own goal by missing out on the opportunity to capitalise on the sponsorship.
Steffen Schindler, director export marketing of the German Wine Institute, spoke to Harpers at the Generation Riesling in London on 7 June, two days before Germany kicked off the World Cup.

We paid 750,000 for the exclusive rights and then we sold licences for 2,000 to smaller producers and 10,000 to larger ones,' he said. Judging by sales it has done well.'

Asked if he thought that producers and suppliers of German wine to the UK market had missed an opportunity to use the World Cup logos to promote German wines during the football, Schindler said: Yes, I think they have.'

With Anheuser-Busch's Budweiser being the official beer and Hyundai apparently being the official car, was the Deutsches Weininstitut under any pressure? We were certainly under a great deal of political pressure that at least the wine should be German,' admitted Schindler.

What about the sponsor's tickets? We had 13 or 14 and we got Gerd Muller (England's nemesis in the 1970 World Cup) to raffle them.'

Schindler said that the German wine trade is in fine fettle, which is more than he could say about the country's football team. I think this could be the "last hurrah" for the football team. They haven't beaten one of the "A" teams - Brazil, Italy, England, etc. - for five or six years and their self-confidence is lower than it has been for years.

Whereas I have told our young winemakers that this is now a very good time for the German wine industry - 10 years ago it was a lot harder.

In the 1990s, Geisenheim (Germany's premier viticultural research institute) did not have many students but now it is the highest number ever and half of them are new, in that they do not come from wine-growing families. We have a new generation of people coming in. I am very confident,' said Schindler. A few years ago vineyards on the steep sides of the Mosel were being given up but now it is being replanted.'

Schindler said that statistics showing new plantings indicate that the emphasis is on Riesling, Sylvaner, Mller-Thurgau and the Pinots (Gris and Blanc) at the expense of the likes of Bacchus, Scheurebe, Kerner, Ortega, Morig-Muskat and Dornfelder.

Mller-Thurgau, as long as you do not have high yields, makes a beautiful thirst-quenching wine which is very popular. Demand for Pinot Blanc and Gris is growing - the fuller Grauburgunder style from Baden and the Pfalz - while the Pinot Grigio style is falling. Chardonnay - unoaked, crisper - is also doing well.'