First VDP Wine Fair Since 2019 - Optimism Despite Enormous Challenges

At the end of April, the VDP.- Verband deutscher Prädikatsweingüter- association of around 200 top German producers held its first fair - the Mainz Weinbörsesince 2019, offering professionals the chance to taste the most recent vintages. Anja Zimmer reports.

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Mainzer Weinbörse (Photo: VDP by Peter Bender)
Mainzer Weinbörse (Photo: VDP by Peter Bender)

 

  • VDP Status report describes 2021 as a difficult year
  • Slight increase in export to 21% (+4%, €93m). Europe and China are important markets, Russia is irrelevant.
  • Average prices of VDP wines are - €10-€36, depending on the classification, compared to a German average of €3,69.
  • VDP fears that production, labour and material costs will increase by almost 30%.
  • 3,500 visitors and 177 stands at the Mainz Weinbörse.
  • Premiere for the new VDP managing director Theresa Olkus.
  • Despite the success of the Weinbörse, the VDP participation at ProWein 2022 remains unchanged

 

Status Report of the 200 VDP Producers

As every year, the VDP has published its status report shortly before the Mainz Weinbörse. It describes challenges after a less than easy 2021.
 

Brief Review of Weather Conditions and Quality

Weather-related challenges, including the disastrous Ahr floods, overshadowed 2021. The reconstruction of the Ahr will take a long time. Significant fungal infections also made the year even more difficult, although there were clear local differences. On average, must weights were below the previous year's. Or, as VDP President Steffen Christmann sums it up: "It was a labor-intensive year with some challenges. A vintage with concise, expressive acidity that will make the wines very long-lived." He expects the vintage to be highly appreciated over time.
 

Export Prospects

In 2021, 79% of the wines were sold in Germany. The 21% exports reflect 4% growth compared to 2020. This shows a slow recovery from pandemic and political factors, such as Brexit and punitive US tariffs. Overall, however, this growth is not very significant. When it comes to wine, Germany is a major importer rather than an exporter.  As the OIV has reported this week, Germany is ranked seventh in export volume (3.7 mhl) and eighth with regard to value (€1.0 bn). In import volume (14,5 mhl), by contrast it comes at the top of the chart, taking third place in value (€2.8 bn), see our report here.

The most important export markets are Scandinavia - especially Denmark - the US and China, followed by the Netherlands and Switzerland. Before the Ukraine war, many VDP companies were placing their hopes on Eastern Europe. This will need to be reconsidered, at least in the case of Russia. Even before the war, this was not a significant market; according to VDP less than 10% of its members exported to Russia. Currently, no wines are delivered there at all.
 

Price Increases

In 2022, prices will be one of the most important, but also most controversial topics for VDP producers.

The price per bottle commanded by VDP members of between €10 (VDP.GUTSWEIN) and €36 (VDP.GROSSE LAGE) are already significantly higher than the €3.69 German average. But the gap may grow wider. "It can be assumed that prices will also continue to rise for German wine, as production, labor and material costs will increase by almost 30%," says Christmann. How high that rise will be, however, remains unclear. While some winemakers are bullish about charging more, others worry about consumers reaction. As Christmann says, "We are continuing to work on changing behavior when buying wine. Thus, we have the impression that consumers drink less, but reach for higher quality wines." This would be a real benefit for top quality German wines, which are relatively inexpensive by international standards.

VDP Weinbörse - Trade Fair

A Few Figures

The VDP is satisfied with the number of visitors at its 2022 fair. As in 2019, a total of 3,500 people attended over the two days. According to the organizers, just under 10% of visitors came from outside Germany, mainly from Europe, but also from Canada, Chile, America and Australia. About 60% were buyers from trade, the on-trade and import/export. 

Meeting in person (Photo: VDP by Peter Bender)
Meeting in person (Photo: VDP by Peter Bender)

New Team at Work

The event was organized by the VDP headquarters with a largely new team. Anyone who has ever organized this kind of large event knows how labour-intensive that is even at normal times. Special covid measures merely added to the challenge. Nevertheless, not much went wrong. There were a few complaints about the Covid tests every morning, and about occasional lack of the spittoons that were provided for every visitor. Christmann is impressed with his team's efforts. "Having so many motivated people with us makes us very happy."
 

And ProWein?

Two weeks before ProWein, one question was on everyone's lips: what happens next? Many of the VDP wineries are not sure whether exhibiting in Dusseldorf really makes sense for them. According to the VDP, however, the fair is trying hard to counter these doubts. Even if only two thirds of the wineries will be there this year, and despite the new location in hall 1, the VDP's booth concept will remain the same – for the time being. However, next year may bring fresh thinking.

Facts & Figures 2021 (projection)

Turnover in 2021 (in 0,75 Fl.)

  • VDP overall:   approx. 33m bottles
  • Per company: approx. 168,368 bottles
     

Vineyard size

  • VDP overall:   approx. 5,621 ha
  • Per company: approx. 28 ha
     

Sales volume in 2021

  • VDP overall:   approx. €444m
  • Per company: approx. €2.24m
     

Average harvest

  • 53 hl/ha (vintage 2021)
     

Average price per bottle in 2021 (0.75l)

  • German Wine:              €3.69 per liter
  • VDP.GUTSWEIN:         €10.00 (60%)
  • VDP.ORTSWEIN:         €13.50 (18%)
  • VDP.ERSTE LAGE:      €19.50 (13%)
  • VDP.GROSSE LAGE:   €36.00 (8%)
     

Average turnover

  • Domestic: 79% (2020: 83%)
  • Export:      21% (2020: 17%)
     

Positioning

  • Harvest quantity: approx. 3% of the German crop
  • Acreage: approx. 5% of the German vineyard area
  • Revenues: approx. 7.5% of German wine revenue

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