VINTNERS WITH PROPERTY in the steep hillsides that overlook the Mosel River between Trier and Koblenz have a worldwide market for their cooly aromatic, austerely-structured white wines. Today, growers there can count on steady demand and good prices. In the U.S., the hipster segment appears to have succumbed to the taut allure of cool-climate riesling – a trend sure to boost the Mosel’s fortunes in a demographic every winemaker in the world would love to capture.
The road to success in the Mosel hasn’t always been paved with euros, however. For most of the nineteenth century the region was trapped in a vicious cycle of low regard, weak demand, and depressed prices. For the 24 year-old Karl Marx, a native of Trier whose family owned several vineyards, the source of the Mosel’s winegrower’s misery was directly traceable to inequitable political, economic, and class structures — a condition that could be overcome, in his mind, only by dismantling the present order and and putting something distinctly more progressive in its place. For Ludwig Gall, Marx’s older contemporary (and no mean socialist theorizer in his own right) the escape route took a more practical turn: making better wine. We’ll save Gall’s story for another post – it deserves separate treatment. [Read more…]