On 02 July 2021, the high-profile event organized by the Union of European National Football Teams of Winemakers (UENFW) with eight participating winegrowing nations highlighted the importance of networking in research, education and practice, especially in view of the Corona pandemic.
Under the auspices of the International Organization of Vine and Wine (OIV), Hochschule Geisenheim University broadcast the 1st Expert Conference of the Union of European National Football Teams of Winemakers (UENFW) live from the Geisenheim University Cellar on July 02, 2021. The top-class online conference, which included the universities of Maribor, Lisbon and Turin as well as the Wädenswil Research Center, focused on the status quo of the wine industry worldwide. As part of the conference, Prof. Dr. Simone Loose, Head of the Department of Wine and Beverage Business, presented latest research findings on the impact of the Corona pandemic on the German wine industry.
UENFW President Robert Lönarz explained the background of the conference: "The basic idea of bringing together wine, football and education has been successfully put into practice by the German national football team of winemakers – WEINELF. We are pleased to see that this idea has been taken up on a European level, too." Each nation has now teamed up with a renowned educational institution. Hochschule Geisenheim University is the partner institution of the German team.
In his welcome address, UENFW Honorary President Dr. Franz Jung praised the involvement of these "outstanding educational institutions in Europe, which guarantee high-quality products through research and teaching." Prof. Dr. Monika Christmann, Head of the Department of Enology, stressed the importance of a European dimension in education, especially in viticulture and enology. Looking beyond national borders is extremely important!”
In order to help students broaden their horizons, the UENFW will award an 8-Nations-Scholarship. Each year, a scholarship holder has the opportunity to get to know universities and top companies in eight nations, and spends two weeks in each country to make new contacts and expand the professional network. “After these 16 weeks, no one thinks in national terms any longer, but at least on a European or even global scale”, explains the second Honorary President Luigi Brunetti, to whom the initiative has been particularly important.
In his address, OIV Director General Pau Roca also looked beyond the borders of the eight participating nations: "You are still small, but you have the potential to grow." The VINOEURO 2022 – the European Championship of the UENFW – in the Czech Republic will still take place in the usual setting, however a new national team is currently being established in Romania. Supported by the OIV, the UENFW is also working hard to put together a French and Spanish team. There are also plans to establish an UENFW all-star team with players from all European nations that will travel to South America and Asia in the foreseeable future as wine and football ambassadors.
“First of all, we are winegrowers and wine experts. In addition, we all enjoy playing football and love spending time with friends from all over the world. We are committed to diversity in our society and condemn any form of racism. We want to raise our voice and send out a strong signal against intolerance, not just since the film 'Schwarzer Adler' (Black Eagle) was shown on German TV, starring Shary Reeves, who has already played with and against the WEINELF several times”, emphasized UENFW President Robert Lönarz, who also admitted that the current political situation in Hungary is a challenge for his association.
The WEINELF and the UENFW both originated at Hochschule Geisenheim University and see themselves as ambassadors of wine as a cultural asset. "We have to focus on understanding and communicating wine as a cultural asset”, says Lönarz. Then consuming wine in moderation is also compatible with sports and health, he adds.
The four-hour specialist conference, which was supported by Messe Stuttgart (INTERVITIS) and the company ERO GmbH, demonstrated that bringing together the world of wine and football also facilitates an important exchange on the level of education, practice and research. More than 400 people followed the event live on social media.
For more information and to watch the recording, please go to: www.uenfw.org