Young winegrowers take up the challenge The rising generation in winegrowing families and young people changing career are beginning to drive the industry

Difficult weather conditions, digitalisation, organic farming, family traditions, and the health crisis – all things and situations that the rising generation of winegrowers are having to deal with. We spoke to three of them about the challenges and their passion for their work. 

Pit Leonardy, president of the association 'Les jeunes vignerons des Domaines Vinsmoselle'

Pit Leonardy is president of the 'Jongwënzer Vinsmoselle' an association of young winegrowers in the Domaines Vinsmoselle cooperative.

He began by talking about the weather conditions, which he considers the greatest challenge facing the young winegrowers: long-term planning, which is essential in winegrowing, is becoming increasingly difficult, as current weather conditions demand a short-term response. For instance, 2017 was a rainy year that was followed by 3 years with severe drought conditions.

The recent health crisis is an added complication, with the temporary closure of cafés, bars and restaurants at the beginning of the year and the cancellation of most wine festivals.

But solidarity with their colleagues and close contact with nature continue, and motivate the young winegrowers to keep at  their work with enjoyment and enthusiasm.

Pit Leonardy pointed out that the digitalisation that has swept through businesses in recent years has made administration and planning easier in both the vineyard and the cellar. Using these digital developments, winegrowing estates have become more efficient  and have made progress both ecologically and economically.

© Jongwënzer Vinsmoselle
© Jongwënzer Vinsmoselle

'Jongwënzer Vinsmoselle' is a not-for-profit association  that serves as a platform for discussion among its member winegrowers. The members of winegrowing families and young winegrowers who have already taken over a business may use this platform to discuss their experiences and make new contacts. Vinsmoselle winegrowers totally support this cooperation: all their grapes are delivered here to be used in the production and marketing of wines in accordance with the principle of cooperation.

The rising generation is increasingly committed to the process and is developing the 'Jongwënzer Vinsmoselle' range in close collaboration with their cellar masters. The range comprises four still wines and one sparkling wine (crémant): an auxerrois, a pinot blanc, a pinot gris, a riesling, and a crémant (made from pinot noir and chardonnay grapes). These are typical grape varieties for Moselle wines, and each gives the wine its particular characteristic bouquet.

Bob Molling, the new youngster

Bob Molling is the most recent arrival among the winegrowers. His grandparents used to produce grapes for Domaines Vinsmoselle. As a child he used to help at the grape harvest, which was the high point of the autumn as far as he was concerned. His parents did not take over the business, but the passion for wine caught up with him and he decided to drop his studies in economics and backtrack to his grandparents' work. His enthusiasm is boosted by contact with nature, the multiple aspects of the job, and relations with customers.

© Bob Molling

In 2019, his first batch of wine, a blend of pinot blanc and auxerrois, produced about 1,400 bottles. In 2020 'Bob Molling Wines' expanded to include a riesling and a pinot gris, with the prospect of a crémant in the near future - it's sure to find fans very quickly.

His aim is to learn more about his vineyards and the art of shaping excellent wines, to launch his own production, and to establish himself in the wine market in the near future. To seek out customers, he has launched himself on the digital market: an Internet site and associated social media pages are currently in preparation.

But setting up as a winegrower can not be done without support, particularly since he does not have the necessary machinery. The newcomer has the benefit of help from another wine producer, Caves Duhr-Maddalon, where he works part-time. In fact, Bob Molling produces his wines on his boss's premises , where he has the advantage of his employer's experience and infrastructures while at the same time being able to develop at his own pace, in his own way.

Marie Kox has inherited the family tradition

This young winegrower joined the family business, the Sunnen-Hoffmann winegrowing estate, after completing her studies in oenology. With a sure but delicate touch, she is gradually making her mark on the estate which, for the past five generations, has been producing wines in keeping with nature, the better to reflect the characteristics of the terroir and the grape variety.

Encouraged by her interest in science and nature, she is now a member of the generation - many of them women - that is taking over management of this sector in the Moselle region. Work placements and tasting sessions among students have strengthened her love of wine and her determination to take up the challenge of continuing the family business successfully and satisfying its customers by achieving the same standards and the same quality.

Marie Kox is pleased that she does not have to make any  major investments in the immediate future, but is able to perfect and develop what already exists: making better use of the potential of pinot noir, producing fair, genuine wines, committing to organic growing methods, etc.

She is still enthusiastic about the diversity of the winemaking profession and the joie de vivre that wine represents. She takes great pleasure in creating a good product that people enjoy.

© Marie Kox