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German producer loses controversial director

Published:  23 July, 2008

By Gary Werner
Christian von Guradze, director of Brklin Wolf estate in Germany, has suddenly left the business after 17 years of service.

His departure at the end of October came as a surprise to even senior staff, and his future plans are unknown. Von Guradze's wife, Bettina Brklin, has taken over leadership of her family's Pfalz winery with immediate effect.

Export director Tom Benns said: Mr von Guradze was well respected for rebuilding this estate and for promoting high-quality wines from the Pfalz around the world.

But his personality dominated everything here. So the atmosphere is already much more open, and we now have an opportunity to better develop the team and the business.'

Von Guradze also had a strained relationship with fellow members of the VDP, the association of Germany's leading wine producers. While he was instrumental in the establishment of the group's Grosses Gewchs (Great Growths) classification programme, he was also critical of fellow producers for not pursuing qualitative reform fast enough or far enough. As a consequence, Brklin Wolf has been conspicuously absent from recent major VDP-sponsored events.

Moving forward, Benns said that Bettina Brklin, who is a Geisenheim-trained winemaker, has a good rapport with the leadership of the other VDP estates, and the company will seek to restore those relationships.

Brklin Wolf works with Laytons in the UK market.