Not good news for German wine lovers: In the coming months, they will have to adjust to significantly rising prices. Steffen Christmann, President of the Association of German Prädikat Wine Estates (VDP), set the theme at the opening of the Mainz Wine Exchange. At the press conference he said: "We expect cost increases of 30 percent and thus corresponding price increases." He left open how high they will be in detail for the wineries of the association. This is because every winery is set up differently and will therefore pass on the rapidly rising costs for raw materials, materials and labour costs to customers to a greater or lesser extent.
In his statement, however, Christmann emphasised "the drastic increase in wages". He is referring to the minimum wage, which is particularly relevant for harvest workers and temporary workers. In line with the harvest season, this will increase by 25 per cent on 1 October 2022 - from the current 9.60 euros to twelve euros. "This is to be welcomed in the sense of the employees," said Steffen Christmann, "but someone has to pay it, and in the end it is the consumers.".
That German wine will become more expensive overall is only a matter of time. German breweries are raising their prices, food has long since become drastically more expensive. The Italian winegrowers are anticipating the price trend for German wine: at Vinitaly in Verona, which ended recently, the trade association Unioncamere and the umbrella organisation of the Italian chambers of commerce (BMTI) reported that rosés and red wines had become more expensive by an average of 20 per cent and white wines by as much as 34 per cent in the past twelve months. Similar price increases have also been recorded in France.
If we look at the price development of the raw materials that are important for German wineries, a very similar trend emerges: according to figures from the Federal Statistical Office, energy has become about 70 per cent more expensive, glass bottles cost about 25 per cent more than a year ago - if wineries are currently still being supplied by glassworks at all. Many wineries that did not order them early enough are currently unable to fill them due to the shortage. They are paying 40 per cent more for the necessary aluminium closures. Cartons and packaging are currently between 25 and 60 per cent more expensive, the prices for labels have risen by about 20 per cent, those for vineyard stakes by 30 per cent.
According to the latest figures from the VDP, in 2021 the total turnover of the association's wineries fell by just under four per cent to 444 million euros, mainly due to the Covid restrictions on events and in gastronomy. In 2020, it was still 462.5 million euros. How much the now emerging price increases and the high inflation will affect the turnover is still open. However, the VDP wineries have been able to implement their continuous, often substantial price increases in the trade without any problems so far: In 2021, wines from great vineyards were sold for an average of 36 euros, whereas in 2011 they only cost 26 euros. This means an increase of almost 40 percent within ten years.
Steffen Christmann also made it clear in Mainz that VDP wines are not becoming more expensive solely because of the current crisis: "Riesling has established itself as a top wine, but Burgundy has also developed incredibly in recent years, especially Pinot Noir," he reported. "In the market for top-quality red wines, we benefit from the fact that our friends in Burgundy are calling prices that make a wine of 40 or 50 euros seem like an occasion." In addition, exports increased by four percentage points last year - from 17 to 21 per cent. The wines are mainly sold to Scandinavia, the USA and China - and there, German top wines are still considered incredibly cheap. Moreover, some of the VDP's top wineries have long since achieved bottle prices of well over 100 euros with their limited branded wines, which are positioned outside the classification. The benchmark has been set by Klaus-Peter Keller's Riesling "GMax", which has long been traded at four-figure prices.
This makes it clear: the VDP has long had its sights set on higher revenues for its red and white Grosses Gewächse. The current raw material and energy crisis is not the only reason for the now rising prices - it only strengthens and accelerates the development. Where the next step will take us will become clear in autumn at the latest with the premiere of the Grosses Gewächse.
Photos: © VDP / © Arne Landwehr / © Peter Bender