The Franconian Wine Queen has been the representative of wine-growers in Franconia for over 60 years.
Ask someone from outside Bavaria what they associate with the state and the answers are almost always the same: dirndl and lederhosen, the Oktoberfest and beer in huge beer mugs or "Maßkrüge". There may be some justification for these global clichés, but Bavaria – and its festival culture – are a lot more diverse than they suggest. For example in Franconia, where wine as well as beer is hugely important. The season of wine festivals in Franconia begins as early as March, and this is also when the Franconian Wine Queen's duties start. She is the public representative of all Franconian winegrowers and travels the world in her ambassadorial role. What does the honorary position represent? How did it develop and how does each representative leave her mark on the Franconian wine industry? We take a closer look at this figurehead for Franconian wine.
Franconia's first Wine Queen was Tilly Lurz from Randersacker in 1950. Her tenure laid the foundations for the tradition of Franconian Wine Queens after the Second World War. From the outset, the objective was to establish the Franconian Wine Queen as a figurehead for the agricultural sector in Franconia, throughout Bavaria, and beyond. The Queen is now the official ambassador for the "Franken – Silvaner Heimat seit 1659" brand and therefore the representative of all Franconian winegrowers.
Genuinely Franconian – since 1950
Young women with a passion for wine have now been holding the position for over 60 years, and the Franconian Wine Queen has become one of the most successful agricultural figureheads ever. But it is no easy job. During her one-year reign, the Queen attends more than 400 events in Franconia and far beyond the region's borders. These include:
• Wine fairs
• Opening ceremonies
She also attends a number of other events in Germany, elsewhere in Europe and even in Asia. This is a full-time job for which the Queen takes a year out from all other commitments. The reigning 64th Franconian Wine Queen is Carolin Meyer from the wine-growing town of Greuth, which is part of Castell in the district of Kitzingen. Carolin is herself a winegrower, working in her parents' vineyard, and regularly features her work on her Instagram channel.
Who can become the Franconian Wine Queen?
All candidates for the post must come from a wine-growing family and be at least 18 years of age. They also cannot be married. Usually, the Queen has previously been Wine Princess in her home town and therefore already has experience with public events, dealing with people, and with Franconian wine.
The Queen is elected by a panel of journalists and wine experts. In the selection process, the various candidates are presented and have to answer questions about wine-growing, marketing and the Franconian wine region. Only once to date has there been only one candidate for the post and she was appointed Queen automatically. That was Melanie Dietrich, the 57th Franconian Wine Queen from the small wine-growing town of Fahr am Main in 2012/2013.
Unlike the wine queens from Germany's twelve other wine regions such as Rheinhessen and the Palatinate, the Franconian Wine Queen is elected in March. In her time in office, she therefore automatically takes part in the election of the German Wine Queen that is organised by Wines of Germany (Deutsches Weininstitut). The last representative from Franconia was Marlies Dumbsky from Volkach am Main in 2008. She was elected the 60th German Wine Queen.
A lot more than just smiling and waving
Today, there is much more to the role of Franconian Wine Queen than simply looking nice and waving at the public. The modern monarchs have long since added many other aspects to their job. They attend charity events and speak out on issues such as biodiversity. And of course they are constantly travelling to promote Franconian wine and their home wine-growing region, Bavaria. With this wide range of responsibilities and opportunities that the year as Franconian Wine Queen offers, the crown is becoming increasingly attractive to many young women.
"I could never have imagined what a huge impact this role would have on my life. I had an amazing year full of so many emotions" writes Klara Zehnder, the 2018/2019 Wine Queen, in the Franconian Wine Queen blog. Anyone wishing to meet the Queen in person will find her at any of the many events in Franconia and across Bavaria.