‘Flood wine,’ anyone? German vintners sell salvaged bottles of mud-encrusted Pinot Noir to raise funds

The red wine marketed on Germany’s crowdfunding website as “our worst vintage” might not sound appetizing, but bottles are flying off the virtual shelves.

It’s all connected to the deadly floods that devastated parts of the country last month, laying waste to vineyards in the process.

In an attempt to raise money for the industry, a number of vintners from the affected Ahr river valley had the clever idea to sell salvaged bottles with still potable vino salvaged under the hashtag #flutwein, or “flood wine.” 

Each one is unique, packaged with its own original layer of caked dirt and mud encrusting it, just as the bottles were found in the cleanup. 

Courtesy of flutwein.de

Roughly €3 million has been raised so far in purchases as well as donations, with some offered in limited edition with a numbered tag for up to €500 a bottle. Proceeds go to the vintners and their restaurateur customers to help rebuild their businesses.

“Wine growing is an essential pillar of our economy that now is no longer there,” wrote Peter Kriechel, chairman of the Ahr Wine nonprofit and himself a vintner. “Torrents of water have literally made off with the foundations of virtually all vineyards in the region.” 

The Ahr is the largest continuous red wine-grape growing region in Germany. Over 80% of its 1,386 acres are used to produce varieties such as Pinot Noir, Dornfelder, Pinot Gris, and Portugieser, but a small number of local vineyards also harvest Riesling and Rivaner. The area’s shale and volcanic rock hills soak up the sun during the day, providing warmth to the grapes overnight.

The insurance industry has estimated insured damages from the storm, named Bernd, in western Germany may reach between €4 billion and €5 billion, two-thirds of which is concentrated in the bucolic state of Rhineland-Palatinate, where many of the country’s vineyards are located.

Together with €500 million in further associated claims in Bavaria and Saxony, the total damage is expected to exceed the €4.65 billion in destruction wrought by floods in August 2002 and has sparked a debate over climate changes in the run-up to September’s national election.

The campaign lasts through the end of this month; afterward, all goods are to be shipped to their proud new owners.

Teetotalers can still support the region by donating to the nonprofit “Ahr–A wine region needs help for rebuilding.

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