The last weekend of August, the winemakers of Eguisheim, home town of the Alsatian vineyards, meet for a wine festival, sharing, exchange with twinned towns, music, processions and traditions. I had the pleasure to meet Valérie and Christian Beyer, owners of the Domaine Emile Beyer.
Christian, besides being winemaker, is the current Chairman of the festival committee and town councillor. He and a team of volunteers organize all the festivities to welcome the 10,000 people during a weekend. On this Sunday afternoon when the heat is competing with musical notes of processions parading through the main street, we stand in the coolness of the old cellar. He tells me everything that makes this event an institution.
The conscripts of the village make lot of noise and actions just before this weekend. They visit all the winemakers to learn about winetasting, enjoying wines. Every evening, they are invited to have dinner in one of the restaurants of the village. During the weekend, they help in the service of wine and they wound up the show with their own float. Students ready to go to other countries, they are the future ambassadors of Eguisheim, quality of life and wines!
300 volunteers and many associations of the village work hard to manage the entries, take care of 21 groups (1 volunteer for 1 group), serve drinks and food to the participants, manage the unexpected. Everyone feels involved to promote the quality of the village’s hospitality. Groups from every region postulate early to come back. The lists for 2017 and 2018 are already filled. The selection will be a hard task. Ditto for the music groups that animate the streets.
The winemakers make qualitative work in the vineyards and you can feel it by tasting their wines, but this should not be at the expense of the idea that wine is part of the celebration, sharing, reunion, joy. This is a time of gathering for the winemakers’ family. Often, a brother or sister of a winemaker takes the opportunity to spend a few days at the village to take care of the stand and share good familial moments. The wine helps people to connect and strengthens the bonds.
It is the same for the twinning with other towns. Initiated by Léon Beyer, great uncle of Christian and mayor of the village from 1959 to 1995, twinning are many. Léon is a visionary and unifier who managed through his meetings to create strong relations with other regions. So this year people from Nuits-Saint-Georges in Burgundy and Hautvillers in Champagne (home town of Champagne wines thanks to Dom Perignon) are present. And to make Eguisheim and Alsatian wines in the world of gastronomy, Léon invited the great Chef Paul Bocuse to attend one of the past editions.