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Charles Walter Berry’s comments on Avelsbach vineyard

January 7, 2015 1 comment

There appear to be few comments on the use of convict labor to establish the Avelsbach Vineyard near Trier which I illustrated in the post Prison laborers working at a vineyard under guard at Avelsbach vineyard of Staatliche Weinbaudomäne Trier.  Frank Schoonmaker pays these efforts no heed in The Wines of Germany (1956) but André Simon and S. F. Hallgarten do comment that the “vineyard which owes its existence, if not its excellence, to convict hard labor” in The Great Wines of Germany (1963).  I was thus surprised and pleased to find mention of the convict labor by Charles Walter Berry of Berry Bros & Co.

Detail showing Avelsbach Vineyard from Mosel-Weinbaukarte für den Regierungsbezirk Trier. c. 1930. [1]

Detail showing Avelsbach Vineyard from Mosel-Weinbaukarte für den Regierungsbezirk Trier. c. 1930. [1]

I own three books by Charles Walker Berry: A Miscellany of Wine (1932), Viniana (1934), and In Search of Wine (1935).  They are each packed with accounts of meals accompanied by a broad range of 19th and 20th century wines.  It was during my holiday reading that my eye was caught by two accounts of wine from Avelsbach in A Miscellany of Wine.  The first accounts appears in “A Birthday Party” where the 1921 Avelsbacher Herrenberg Beeren Auslese, Fuder Nr. 3959, Wachstum Weingut D.O.V. was served with turbot.  The wine itself proved “truth in the simile of ‘Bottled Sunshine'” but it is the background information I found of interest.

The origins of the vineyard were not lost on Charles Walter Berry who wrote “years before the Great War it was a forest, but the wild and heavy growth of nature was uprooted – I believe by convict labor – and replaced by the cultured and gentle vine.”  Accounts of the vineyard occur later in the book in his recollection of tasting notes from the Mosel on May 23, 1930.  Having tasted the 1927 Avelsbacher Schellenberg, noted as “already being considered an old wine”, and the 3959  1921 Avelsbacher Herrenberg, noted as “what a wine!”, his party set out to visit the vineyards surrounding Trier.  In visiting Avelsbach he wrote that the clearing of the forest was started in 1900 using convict labor and that at least 250,000 vines were planted on the hillside.  “Great care was taken, straw mats being used as a protection against the frost.  So many people are employed that a new village (Avelsbach) has sprang up.”


[1] Mosel-Weinbaukarte für den Regierungsbezirk Trier. c. 1930. Landesbibliothekszentrum Rheinland-Pfalz. URL: http://www.dilibri.de/rlb/content/titleinfo/518355

Prison laborers working at a vineyard under guard at Avelsbach vineyard of Staatliche Weinbaudomäne Trier.

December 9, 2014 1 comment

This fantastic images show the construction of a vineyard at Domäne Avelsbach.  This estate along with Ockfen and Serrig form the three estates of Staatliche Weinbaudomäne Trier.  This winery was founded in 1896 by the Prussian State government. Ockfen was built using free laborers whereas Avelsbach and Serrig used the relatively cheaper prisoner laborers.  If you look at the top left corner of the photograph you will see a man in the dark uniform standing on a rock outcropping.  He has a rifle slung over his shoulders.  Does anyone have references for prison laborers working in the vineyards of other countries?

Die Anlage der Domane Avelsbach bei Trier. [1]

Die Anlage der Domane Avelsbach bei Trier. [1]


[1] Weinbau und Weinhandel an Mosel, Saar und Ruwer : ein Rückblick auf die letzten 100 Jahre. Meyer, Felix. 1926. Dilibri Rheinland-Pfalz. URL: http://www.dilibri.de/rlb/content/titleinfo/1069369