Corking profit for Freiburg vineyards

July 7, 1995

Degree certificates are not the only valuable items adorned by the crest of Albert-Ludwigs University of Freiburg this summer. It will also be on the labels of the university's first methode champenoise - a 1992 Pinot blanc de noir brut.

And the grape will probably be much improved by the knowledge that the profits will contribute to the university budget.

The university's wine tradition dates back to its foundation in 1457 when Albrecht VI of Upper Austria endowed it with vineyards, as well as land, livestock and properties in the present wine-growing regions of Swabia and Alsace.

University professors were paid partly in wine, their salaries fluctuating according to the crop. When the city of Freiburg was transferred to the Grand Duchy of Baden in 1806 and the university was reconfirmed by Duke Ludwig, it marked the end of its financial dependence on its vineyards. But the wine-growing tradition was revived in 1956 when it inherited land and funds for wine growing on condition that two-thirds of the profits go towards cancer research and the rest be ploughed into the university's forestry faculty funds.

Today the vineyards produce wines, a cognac and this year its first sekt. Last year university vintners bottled 11,000 litres of wines, all organically produced. "An impressive yield even though of course it wouldn't nearly pay the professors' salaries today," a spokeswoman said. But the professors do play an active role in the production process. The university's botanical gardens currently cultivate 21 varieties of grape and advise the vintners on cultivation techniques.

The wines, which the university says independent experts have proclaimed excellent, are sold to staff and students and are served at university festivals and receptions.

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