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Mosel winemakers upset after rally cars flatten vines

Tension has escalated between winemakers in Germany's Mosel region and the organisers of a major rally race after two cars crashed through vineyards on the eve of harvest.

Thierry Neuville crashes into Mosel vineyards during a practice run for ADAC Rallye Deutschland. Image Credit: Torstein Eriksen/ WRC

Vineyard owner Gehlen-Cornelius was assessing damage at the end of last week after a driver in the ADAC Rallye Deutschland lost control of his car and ploughed through vines.

Amateur footage of the crash [see below] showed Finnish driver Jari-Matti Latvala veering off the road at high speed and plunging through several rows of dense vineyard.

Daniel Gehlen told Decanter.com that he is seeking compensation from the organiser of the rally, which is part of the World Rally Championship. He declined to give a specific figure.

The accident was one of two crashes during this year’s event, which has increased tension between local winemakers and race organisers.

Some argue that the rally brings publicity to the Mosel, but Constantin Richter, of producer Max Ferdinand Richter, told Decanter.com that crashes are a regular problem for winemakers.

‘Ask top quality winemakers from our region, and you will hardly find anyone who welcomes that kind of sport in the vineyards.’

He also said rally spectators often sit in vineyards and either leave behind rubbish or trample young vines.

Some winemakers were also cut off from their own vineyards, making it hard for them to tend to vines at a crucial time of year. ‘During these rally days, spraying was necessary to avoid further fungus disease caused by the humid and wet weather in August,’ Richter said.

A spokesperson for rally organiser ADAC Motorsport defended holding the race in the area.

‘As always, not everyone is happy with big events like the ADAC Rallye Deutschland.

‘But, I am surprised that the winemakers are unhappy, because on the one hand they get very good compensation when a vineyard is demaged and, on the other hand, the ADAC Rallye Deutschland is a very good marketing tool for the wine Mosel region.’

Not everyone is unhappy in the Mosel. In 2011, winemakers in Neumagen-Dhron, a town on the Rallye Deutschland itinerary, gave ADAC Motorsport a prize for wine promotion, and in 2013 presented the rally organiser with 500 bottles of Riesling.

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Written by Chris Mercer

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