Moselle Unesco project could be unprofitable for winemakers

Plans to submit the Moselle region for inclusion on the Unesco World Heritage List are not looking hopeful, based on an inter-ministerial statement.

The initiative was begun in 2014 by the German association Weltkulturerbe Moseltal e.v., which coordinated informational meetings with German and Luxembourg authorities, a joint response from the culture and agriculture ministers to a parliamentary question explains.

“Field visits have taken place in the Luxembourg vineyards to identify interesting sites,” the response adds. However, there is a snag. To be included on the list, winegrowers with terraced vineyards would be obliged to revert to an ancient form of cultivation using stakes, known as “single pole training”, which uses a post as scaffolding for the vines as opposed to the more commonly found trellis method, using wires. The ministers pointed out that this method is extremely labour-intensive and expressed doubts about its profitability.

“In order not to hinder the economic development of the Luxembourg vineyard, it is important not to restrict the freedom of enterprise excessively by making such vine cultivation compulsory,” the ministers wrote, adding: “Indeed, innovation in the mechanisation of very steep slopes and terraces is progressing and requires a method of vine cultivation on trellises. The cultivation in stakes is incompatible with such a mechanisation.”

The ministers point out that the winegrowers concerned have not been consulted and that the Luxembourg Winegrowers’ Association would need to give its agreement for the project to progress with support from the grand duchy.