Historic German winemaker counts ‘devastating’ cost of floods

Historic German winemaker counts ‘devastating’ cost of floods

A historic German wine cooperative is counting the cost of the deadly floods that struck the west of the country last week.

The Mayschoss-Altenahr wine cooperative, near the river Ahr south of Bonn, was founded more than 150 years ago and is believed to be the oldest such organisation in the world.

Its members say the impact on their businesses has been “devastating”, after it was cut off by floodwaters leaving cellars and facilities submerged in water and mud.

Now staff are trying to salvage whatever they can from the damaged barrels and bottles strewn around the complex.

Alina Sonntag, a management assistant at the cooperative, said the disaster threatened its existence.

"At the moment I don't think I have any exact idea of how big the scale actually is, I can't give any figures or even dimensions. In any case, it is devastatingly threatening to the existence (of our business),” she said.

“The barrels that were still in the cellar, where there was actually wine in them, are probably no longer usable. We're now trying to save what can be saved. It affects our very substance, that's for sure."

Sonntag said Mayschoss-Altenahr has 460 members, half of whom are themselves winegrowers and winemakers.

Many of them will have lost both their homes and their livelihoods in the floods.

The village of Mayschoss itself was cut off by the floods until a few days ago and could only be supplied by air.

The only way to reach it last week by land was via a narrow dirt road through the forest.

As a result, the cooperative hasn't been able to supply its customers for the past week, and Sonntag said it was now planning to outsource sales to other wine growers in areas that haven't been so badly affected.

The floods killed at least 180 people in Germany and 31 people in Belgium.

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