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Grape Destinations: Working the Mosel Vines

Have you ever gone to a small vineyard? Did you like their wines? I did. Over 20 years ago, I visited a small winemakers’ wine-tasting in Kröv, situated on the Mosel River. My family and I were on a week’s holiday in a bungalow park near Kröv. On the list of activities was the wine-tasting at one of the many winemakers in the area. So we went and liked the wines very much. But one exchange in the whole conversation around the tasting made me curious. It was: “We get often the question: ‘Can we help with the harvest?’”. The answer was: “Yes, phone us!”

So we planned another holiday the next year in the harvest season, and I phoned. I was more than welcome to help. That day – just one day – was the first time that I helped get the grapes indoors. That day was white grapes only, riesling. There were just a few of us and it was hard labor on those steep hills. But it was a day never to forget.

The riesling vines of KroevSince that day, I almost went every year to help them out. Every day out there in the fresh air between the trellises is excellent; it is very tiring but fulfilling work. As time passed, the family business went from father to son. And now, not just I, but my sons and wife come along if they’re able to. The whole wine family has become very good friends.

What is so nice about it? Outside the talks you have during the work, lunch is included with a glass of very good wine (it happened that we had over 20-year-old wine, very good white wine). You also get paid in wine! So the souvenir is always in the bag.

The best quote over the years I heard after the question: “Do you work with Polish people?”. It was asked by a Dutchman. The answer was: “No, we work with Dutch people!” This was the most unexpected answer the man could get. You should have seen his face!

– Michael Bahlen

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