Wine Festival Then & Now
Useful information on the history of Hochheim Wine Festival
The beginnings of the Hochheim Wine Festival
Research in the Hochheim town archive for the roots of the Hochheim Wine Festival has revealed that the first documented „Hochheimer Winzerfest“ with a historic parade was hosted in 1903. Even then, this is what the newspaper articles of the „Nassauischer Anzeiger – Kreisblatt für den Landkreis Wiesbaden“ prove, it was a particular large vintners’ festival with special public image. After that, the next wine festivals were not held before 1937 and 1939 on the today’s market area Am Weiher.
Apart from these festivals in 1903 and before the start of WWII, the actual tradition of the Hochheim Wine Festival starts in the year 1950. Since 1950 the Hochheim Wine Festivals has taken place in the summer months every year. The beginning of the Hochheim Wine Festivals ground on a partnership with the city of Frankfurt am Main. At this time the first wine festivals - demonstrably until 1952 - were officially called the “Hochheim-Frankfurt-Wine Festival“.
Regular hosting of the Hochheim Wine Festival
The Wine festival was hosted on the 5th and 6th August 1959 in the old historic town. The assizor at that time, Joachim Dittmann, remembers that the original date in July was cancelled as there were various older home festivals at that time (Heinerfest in Darmstadt, Gibber-Kerb in Wiesbaden-Biebrich or the Laternenfest in Bad Homburg). August was more suitable as there were school holidays and so the schoolyard of the Weinbergschule could be included in the festival precinct.
The stage was set up on the Plan, whereas the wine stands were located in Church Street, Rathausstrasse up to the Backeswied in the Aichgasse. In contrast to today only few wine stands - three or four - served wine to the visitors.
However, the main attraction was the election of Hochheim’s first wine queen - Renate Dienst (twin sister of vintner Hermann Dienst from the winery Dorotheenhof). She was chosen from 18 young applicants in smart wine-makers’ folk costumes by an election committee with the help of Hochheim’s mayor Ohlig and led by Frankfurt’s mayor Dr. Walter Kolb, and crowned as the first “Wine Queen of Hochheim and Frankfurt“.
Hochheim’s mayor Ohlig declared at the wine festival on the 28 July 1951: “This is not about celebrating a festival for the sake of it - we are obliged to promote our Hochheim wine. Foreign wines and the impacts of the war, when there was no wine available for the masses, are reasons that force us to do something about the sales increase of our wine.“
Regarding the wine festival program of that time, some major differences can be spotted in the course of today’s Wine Festival:
Back then, the visitors of the Hochheim-Frankfurt-Wine Festival were picked up from the train station in the Hochheim Südstadt on Saturday afternoon. Afterwards, they were taken in a musical parade to the Weiher area, followed by a football match, which was an integral part of the defined program.
The wine queen’s election was also handled a little differently in the first years. The participants for this job of the Hochheim Wine queen had to master a test, which was an integral part of the Hochheim Wine Festival on Sunday afternoon. The participants had to be at least 18 years old and execute following three tasks in front of the Hochheim - Frankfurt - election committee: Recite a poem, short dance presentation, and conduct a toast. The jury would then choose a candidate and crown the most capable for this volunteer job to be the Hochheim Wine Queen.
Even though the series of annual wine festivals in Hochheim had only started in 1950, the newspaper Maingau-Bote already stated in the issue of 7 August 1951: “We know that the Hochheim people are not easy to delight. But once they join, always something great comes out of it. The goal was reached: The Wine Festival is finally founded.“
Today’s Wine Festivals - conscious in tradition, modern, and cross-generational
The Wine Festivals of today cannot be compared regarding the size of the event, event program, and number of visitors to the wine festivals at the beginning of the 1980s. Hochheim has gained more and more in popularity and has evolved to one of the biggest and most important wine festivals in the Rheingau over the years. Visitors and wine lovers from the whole region appreciate the great quality of Hochheim wines and the fizzy sparkling wine. This is confirmed by high prime selection awards for Hochheim vintners and wineries at state and national wine awards along with international prizes.
Today’s Wine Festival organizers constantly work on implementing necessary new requirements - for instance regarding safety and security - and at the same time on ensuring the festival’s attractiveness. It is essential to make the Wine Festival conscious in tradition, modern, and cross-generational. In order to distinctly distinguish from the contemporaneous events in the region, the focus is on an extensive musical program on several stages as well as an attractive program for children.