When Catastrophic Floods Devastate Germany’s Ahr Valley (image) was first uploaded to Vine, it was met with its fair share of negative comments. The comments were all pretty much the same – the vine is not safe for work! But, while some people think that it’s inappropriate for a website to post such a video, others have decided that it’s not so bad after all. And, truth be told, the cat is cute, and the vine’s type of cheesy, so it’s not completely inappropriate. That being said, it’s not a good idea to upload this type of content to a website that is not suitable for work!
Ahr Valley lies in the western part of Germany, in the North Rhine-Westphalian province of Rhineland-Pfalz. It is home to the Ahr, a river that flows through the region, and is the origin of the Rhein, a river that flows northward. The Ahr Valley is the only wine region in Germany that is not located in the Rhine Valley.
Prolonged and heavy rains caused devastating floods throughout Western Europe last week, demolishing communities and killing over 200 people. The Ahr Valley, a tiny but well-known wine area in western Germany, has been particularly severely affected.
In only 24 hours, most of western Germany received more than a month’s worth of rain. The severe weather event, according to a German meteorologist, was the first in Germany in 500 years.
Flash floods washed away houses, shops, cars, bridges, highways, and whole communities in Ahrweiler, a stretch of cities and villages dotting the Ahr River’s basin. In Germany, over 200 people have been reported killed, another 700 have been wounded, and hundreds more are still missing.
In a statement released Monday, the German Wine Institute stated, “The economic destruction that followed the floods was especially severely felt by the region’s more than 38 wineries, many of whom lost their buildings, basements, equipment, wine barrels, cellared inventory, and more.”
The Ahr Valley’s Marienthal hamlet and surrounding vineyards. Philipp von Ditfurth/dpa/Alamy Live News photo
Weingut Meyer-Näkel, a major producer of German Pinot Noir, also known as Spätburgunder, near Dernau, is one of the wineries said to have sustained significant losses.
Jenna Fields, president of The German Wine Collection, Meyer-U.S. Näkel’s importer, says, “We received a text in the middle of the night that Meyer-Näkel been destroyed.”
The situation in the valley remains terrible, according to Fields, with no flowing water, bridges, or roads, much alone power or mobile phone coverage. Her interactions with the Näkels have been restricted to a few text messages and social media postings, as well as reports from other wineries.
According to Fields, Meike and Dörte Näkel, fifth-generation winemakers, “stayed behind to attempt to rescue the winery… and ended up being swept away in the water.” According to Fields, the sisters were able to remain together “and grab onto a tree, and they stayed in that tree for seven hours until firemen and a rescue boat could arrive.”
“The basement is gone, and they’ve lost everything, but they’re simply thankful to be alive,” says the narrator.
In the Ahr valley, a home in Marienthal. Boris Roessler/dpa/Alamy Live News photo
Julia Bertram of Weingut Bertram-Baltes in Dernau, another well-known Spätburgunder producer, reported on Instagram that the winery, cellar, and wines had all been destroyed.
Bertram, her husband, cofounder Benedikt Baltes, and their family, fortunately, are alive and unharmed. The pair was reunited when Baltes went missing while helping his family in neighboring Mayschoss, according to Kevin Pike, owner of Schatzi Wines, Bertram-Baltes’ U.S. importer.
Bertram-Baltes and others in the Ahr will suffer significant financial losses, according to Pike.
He claims, “They lost their whole 2019 and 2020 vintages.” “It isn’t only barrels, vehicles, or equipment that may be replaced with the assistance of insurance… They won’t be able to produce their 2019 or 2020 Pinot Noir since they won’t have anything to sell for the next two years.”
Since the floods, wineries from all over Germany have rushed to the area to provide food, supplies, and help in the enormous clean-up and salvage operations.
The German Wine Institute and the Verband Deutscher Prädikats- und Qualitätsweingüter (VDP) have both set up bank accounts to receive contributions on behalf of Ahr winegrowers.
Click here to make a donation to VDP. The German Wine Institute is accepting contributions at this location.
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