Months of work culminate in Luxembourg's 68th Grape and Wine Festival
This weekend, Grevenmacher will once again host its annual Grape and Wine Festival.
The event will officially start on Friday evening with the coronation of this year's wine queen, the 20-year-old Jana Steinbach, and will be celebrating Luxembourgish wine and tradition until Sunday evening.
For the organisers and the wine queen, the three-day festival is the joyous culmination of long preparations throughout the year.
While the three days of celebrations are a lot of fun, there is a lot of hard work behind Grevenmacher's biggest and most expensive event of the year.
Paul Lorenz, president of the Grevenmacher Festival Committee and coordinator of the event, likes to compare the Grape and Wine Festival to an iceberg.
"You only see the tip of the iceberg during those three days," he said. "Most people don't know about the work we do all year round."
The same goes for the wine queen and her four princesses who "don't really get enough credit for all their hard work", according to Lorenz.
For five years in a row, the wine queen and the princesses make about 70 official appearances a year – in Luxembourg, as well as abroad – while juggling their school work and social commitments.
Taken together, as Lorenz remarks, "this corresponds to a whole full-time working year".
The entire Wine Festival is organised by the members of the Grevenmacher Festival Committee (CFG).
While the committee is a separate organisation from the commune of Grevenmacher, the two "work hand in hand", according to Leon Gloden, mayor of the city.
The commune supports the festival with subsidies, but it also plays a more logistical role, such as marking off the streets for the event.
It also supplies technical equipment and lets the festival committee use its facilities for free, which is essential to the organisation of the event.
Because the festival committee is a non-profit organisation, the Grape and Wine Festival relies heavily on sponsors, as well as local and national support in the form of private donations, high attendance and, of course, the consumption of wine (on the coronation evening, in particular).
National wine queen
The official appearances of the wine queen and princesses throughout the year are in some ways more important than the actual Festival.
While the queen's main role is to act as an ambassador and promoter of Luxembourgish wine, she helps to give a face to the Luxembourgish winegrowers who are an essential element of the wine production and yet remain in the background.
According to Leon Gloden, the Wine and Grape Festival was initially used to promote the Moselle region.
However, the event has gradually developed to promote the wine more as a national product than a regional one.
The festival committee also invites the girls to go on workshops and fairs where they learn more about wine.
"It would be unfair on them if they only came along as a symbol without being able to answer questions about wine from specialised journalists," Lorenz said.
"We want to help them feel more at ease in their role through these workshops."
(Louise Breusche Rasmussen, firstname.lastname@example.org)