I have already written about my visits to the Ahr wine region. Vine cultivation has a long tradition in the Ahr valley going back to about 770 AD.
The above sign reads as follows: “Happy humans and good wine should always be united together”. I found it on the wall of the cellar door of the DAGERNOVA Wine Co-operative in Dernau, Ahr valley. DAGERNOVA is the latin name of Dernau, a quaint little village in the Ahr valley and the seat of the co-operative.
One of the interesting phenomena in the German wine economy is the ‘wine co-operative’, usually the association of grape and wine producers to jointly make and sell their wines or some of their produce.
Co-operatives are very common in German agriculture and have a long and winding history as an institution. Today some of the most powerful and efficient wine producers in the wine sector are of this type. The economic advantages of co-operatives are obvious: the larger scale of purchases of inputs and the sale of produce allows a much better bargaining position in the market. One of the few downsides might be that top individual producers might find higher prices for their top wines outside the co-operative umbrella but cannot dispose of their minor qualities without it. This conflict of interest might severely damage the prospects of co-operatives’ business success.
Therefore true support and a certain discipline on the part of the members of the co-operative is necessary to make it successful. Competing strategic goals are to be avoided, instead synergies need to be developed. Professional wine making and marketing are a precondition for the making of high quality wines, wines which can also enter into the premium and high price segments of the market.
The cellar door of DAGERNOVA in Dernau
An excellent example for this segment of the German wine industry is ‘DAGERNOVA Wine Manufactory’, a co-operative of the Ahr vintners. On its webpage the co-operatives (www.ahrwinzer-eg.de and www.dagernova.de) motto is cited. It reads “tradition without dust”; and in fact the co-operative has a long tradition but is modern in nature. Its was founded in 1970 when two of the local vinters associations merged and created this new entity. In the years following many more vintners and their associations joined. From 1993 onwards the co-operative was operating under “Ahr Winzer eG” which translates into ‘Ahr Vintners registered co-operative’. Today the members of the co-operative cultivate about 170 ha of vineyards. Needless to say that the co-operative won many awards and medals for its wines. In 2006 for instance the German magazine ‘Weinwelt’ (wine world) awarded DAGERNOVA ‘the best Riesling producer of the Ahr’ title. Gault Millau awarded ‘one bunch’ (eine Traube).
When we visited the co-operatives cellar door it was buzzing with customers. Every sunny autumn weekend is seen by many in the surrounding towns of the Rhineland and the Ruhr as an excellent opportunity to take a long Sunday walk along the Ahr river and to visit wineries and cellar doors. Although Ahr wines are more pricy than wines from many other regions, the Ahr has successfully succeeded by justifying this by rigorous emphasis on quality.
The Ahr valley is German red wine territory. Here a bottle of Regent, a “new” red variety.
Needless to say we tasted quite a few bottles of excellent red wines of the base (up to 7 €/bottle) and primium segements (up to 9.5 €/bottle). What they call ‘cult wines’ starts at 11.85 €/bottle. I acquired a “2006 Pinot Noir Spätlese” which I gave to my friend Ulrich Hillejan and where I anxiously await the “tasting results”.
Joyce, Ulla, Claudia and Rainer, DAGERNOVA cellat door