July 13th saw the beginning of torrential rains that resulted in devastating flooding in parts of Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands. The rivers were unable to withstand the volume of rain which resulted in rivers overrunning their banks, flooding some towns and villages. Some wine regions in northwestern Germany suffered extensive damage, with the full impact still to be determined. Even vintners in regions less impacted by the flooding have to contend with water in their cellars and mildew on grapevines.
According to meteorologists, some parts of Germany received the equivalent of two months of rain in a 24 hour timeframe. Parts of the Rhine and its tributaries in Germany and the Meuse River in Belgium and Holland quickly overflowed their banks. The Ahr Valley, a Rhine tributary, was particularly ravaged. The steep slopes on both sides of the river contain Spätburgunder (Pinot Noir) vines, which are some of Germany’s best. The Germany’s Mosel region also experienced flooding that was compared to a tsunami. It came quickly and totally surprised everyone.
To date there have been upwards of 300 deaths attributed to the flooding with many more people still missing. Wineries in the region have all but been destroyed. All that remains in many cases are the bare walls of the structures. Furniture, cars, tanks, presses, tractors and other equipment are all lost.
With the equipment gone, the vintners will need a great deal of manual labour to maintain the vines for the balance of this season and then to harvest the grape crop. Then once it is harvested they will need to determine how they will press the grapes and ferment the juice.
Teams from the unaffected areas are organizing to help the grape growers in the devastated areas. The Verband Deutscher Prädikatsund Qualitätsweingüter (VDP), Germany’s association of top-quality wine, is organizing charity events. A wine festival is taking place this weekend where all of the proceeds will go to relief efforts.
It is worth making a mental note that when the 2021 vintage of German wines reach the shelves in a couple of years, the quantity will be less and the price will be relatively higher than in previous years. This will be due to the reduced supply and increased costs in getting these wines to market. There may also be some spoilage do to mold.
My thoughts are with everyone affected by this devastating situation.