Once upon a time there were vines

By Audrey SomnardLex Kleren Switch to French for original article

The Moselle has not always been the country's only major wine-growing region. But where does Luxembourg's wine culture come from? Here's a look at the history of wine in the Grand Duchy.

Of Luxembourg's three neighbours, two are world-famous for their beers. In Luxembourg, beer is brewed, but more wine is made, nowadays mainly in the Moselle region, with its characteristic steep hillsides full of vines. But has it always been like this? Why did this region start growing wine? We went to meet Marc Kuhn, a former wine inspector and a veritable encyclopaedia on the history of wine in Luxembourg. Surprisingly, there are no academic studies on the subject. So we begin a journey back in time with Marc Kuhn, starting with the Middle Ages. Wine was cultivated first and foremost for health reasons: "The difficulty lay in transporting wine, which was not traded in that sense. On the other hand, wine was needed locally for religious services, but we mustn't forget the antiseptic aspect of wine, because water was very often unfit to drink. So wine was mixed with water to make the water more drinkable. The wines produced here were above all acidic, light wines. We're not talking about quality yet."

Wine growing was therefore primarily private, and was not "limited to this Moselle region. You find vineyards in this region and then along the Sûre. But you'll even find it in the south of the country, in Differdange, also in Esch-sur-Sûre and above all in Vianden, Echternach, Diekirch, Luxembourg City itself, spread throughout the country." At that time, wine was not specifically cultivated, it was called agriculture, and wine production was mainly small-scale, with no real trade as such. Until nature decided otherwise. "What brought all local production to a halt was a crucial winter with frosts in 1709. There were vineyards, there were grapes, but in absolutely limited quantities, and there was no direct trading or processing. It was primarily for personal consumption. That winter in 1709 destroyed all those vineyards. In fact, vineyards simply ceased to exist in all the regions. Only production in Echternach and along the Sûre as far as Wasserbillig, and mainly along the Moselle, survived."

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