German vintner discovers World War Two wine cache

Fri Jan 14, 2011 11:39am EST
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BERLIN (Reuters Life!) - A German vintner acting on a hunch uncovered a hidden trove of wine untouched since 1945.

Andreas Neymeyer discovered 500 bottles under a cellar staircase while clearing out a burned-out building on his 38 hectare (94 acre) vineyard in southern Germany shortly before Christmas.

"It was my uncle's idea," Neymeyer told Reuters. "I was preparing the building to be torn down and he knew that wine had been hidden sometime before the end of World War II.

"It was springtime 1945 and the French were about to invade. My family wanted to secure some wine if there was any looting by troops."

It was not the first reserve of wine that Neymeyer has found on the vineyard, which produces some 350,000 bottles of wine each year.

"The wine is still drinkable; in fact some is quite good," the fifth generation vintner said. "The dark conditions were ideal for storage."

Some of the bottles were not from the vineyard but were sweet wines thought to be from Spain or Greece. Brandy, schnapps and sacramental wine was also found in the collection.

Neymeyer plans to rebottle the wine and put it up for auction when the new building is ready to open next year.

(Reporting by Eric Kelsey; editing by Paul Casciato)