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German wine stocks at lowest levels since reunification

German wine stocks are at their lowest ever levels since reunification, with high demand also driving up prices.

With an annual production of 9-10 million hl per year, German producers are already selling everything they produce within a year of harvest, said Steffen Schindler, marketing director at the German Wine Institute.

Prices rose in 2010 when only 7.1 million hl were produced following a poor harvest, and remained at the same level in 2011 and 2012 despite production returning to normal levels.

High domestic and international demand, coupled with a run of good vintages, has allowed German wine producers to maintain their prices, he said.

“In the past we used to have two or three bad vintages a decade, and that’s no longer the case. The quality has gone up for even entry-level wines and they’re now starting to fetch the high price these wines deserve.”

Schindler said Riesling has succeeded in completely changing the image of German wines, with the wine industry now considering it as Germany’s key premium wine variety. The rise in popularity of Riesling has led to increased interest in other German varieties, he added.

Germany is also now the world’s third-biggest producer of Pinot Noir, thanks to ideal growing conditions, the climate, its ancient German terroirs, old bush vines and traditional winemaking skills.

“Germany has established itself as Burgundy’s key competitor as a world-class Pinot Noir producer,” said Schindler.

Germany now exports up to 1.3 million hl of wine a year and is hopeful of gaining further rises in its export prices.

Its key export markets are the US, Netherlands, the UK, Norway and Russia, but there
is also an increasing demand for German wines in Hong Kong and China.

The German Wine Institute hopes to capitalise on Germany’s strong affiliation with Asian cuisine as part of its ongoing marketing strategy and will be exhibiting at UK consumer shows later this year.

Source: Harpers