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Hugh Johnson’s speech at the mosel bridge protest

I heard about the high Mosel bridge so many years ago, that I honestly forgot about it. I thought that it was a folly of the 1960s and ‘70s which had gone the way of follies in the history – that it would never come back. again.

This, ladies and gentlemen, is just a highway on stilts. There is nothing beautiful, interesting, dramatic or romantic about it except its enormous size. Anyone who imagines that it’s going to bring some kind of new prosperity to Urzig and this valley is dreaming. Are the tourists going to jump off on parachutes? Why would they stop? They’ll be going at a hundred and something kilometres per hour – they will just go, making the most appalling noise. You will never not hear traffic in this valley again if this bridge is built.

But much more interesting than this road idea is this amazing valley. What I really want to talk about is this historic landscape, this unique culture, and the craftsmanship which over centuries has interpreted mountain slopes as beautiful flavours, which are sought all over the world.

I can tell you that the whole world has nothing comparable to Mosel Riesling. You can imitate the wine in Bordeaux, in the Napa Valley. You can even imitate the wine in Burgundy in certain places. But there is nothing that even starts to imitate great Mosel Riesling.

Do you really know what a treasure this inheritance is? I’m not talking about nostalgia for middle-aged tourists. I’m talking about the future and the young. The future is always with the young, and people who have the energy and the determination to cultivate really difficult country like this, mountain vineyards. It has to be precious – there’s nobody else is doing it. A culture which will never be replaced. There’s no way.

When this valley is brought down and banalised by a lousy road, how is it going to have the self respect? How is it going to feel so special? Why is anyone going to want to come and taste its unique produce?

The fight is not over until it has been fought. Roads have been stopped before. There are bridges going from nowhere to nowhere, including in Germany. But not here. I leave you with this fascinating picture of this beautiful landscape and this great shadow of uselessness flying overhead.

Written by Hugh Johnson

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