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Transforming Experiences miniWënzer: Young vineyard explorers


Tending, pruning, vine-training, harvesting and more

Destination(s): Moselle

What happens year-round in a vineyard? How are wine and grape juice made? Children aged eight to ten can join “miniWënzer” to find out everything they need to know about viticulture, from care to harvest and the big “Hunnefeier” at the end of the season.

The vineyard where Laurence and Jutta guide the children lies almost hidden. A narrow path leads past an old mill and through a forest. It feels mysterious. Suddenly, the trees separate and we reach the small vineyard near Manternacher Fiels. Christelle, Lisa-Marie, Lena and Rafaele gather around Laurence Duhr and Jutta Kanstein, curious. What will they learn about today?

“Look, this is sheep’s wool. We’ll spread it on the ground around the vines,” says Laurence and hands the children some of the tangy-smelling wool. The kids inspect the wool with a magnifying glass and get going. The wool serves as mulch and organic long-term fertilizer as it naturally contains phosphorus. Some vines have small, wooden signs with the children’s names. Each miniWënzer member is responsible for their own vine. “You’re doing great!” says Laurence and smiles. She cuts off a piece of her dreadlocks and ties it to the end of a row of vines. She does the same for every row. “The hair keeps deer from nibbling on the vines. They won’t come within 300 metres when they sense humans,” she explains. The children are amazed.

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Magical moss on the wall

Laurence Duhr comes from the Aly Duhr family of winemakers, well-known in Luxembourg and across the border. Her father planted the vines here in Manternach in the 1990s. Laurence grew up in and around winemaking but also has a background in psychology and education. Her degrees include psychology, viticulture and oenology as well as clown teacher and outdoor adventure guide. “I love working with children!” she says. During the pandemic that wasn’t possible, of course. She used that time to further develop her ‘children in the vineyard’ project which became her final project for her outdoor adventure guide diploma.

The “Drauweechelchen”, a diligent squirrel puppet, known as “Kaweechelchen” in Luxembourgish, is a steady miniWënzer companion and teacher. “The children really enjoy cutting grass and using the grape shears,” Laurence observed. Over the course of the year, the children care for the soil, tend the vines, harvest and even press grape juice.

“Look how the moss changes when I pour water on it,” says Jutta Kinston after the children finish spreading the wool. They huddle around the curly-haired woman and gape as they see the moss instantly changing colour. She then explains that wool can even be used to make wind and water-resistant sweaters. “Look, there’s a lizard on the wall,” says Jutta. The miniWënzer learn about the biodiversity of vineyards and forests, and everything that happens during a growing season. The miniWënzer project is a fun way for children to learn, to awaken their interest in nature and foster their understanding of biodiversity.

Parents are not part of the experience and can instead enjoy some free time exploring the vicinity. “We also have a big garden and grow our own fruits and vegetables but this is a whole new way to experience nature of course!” says Christelle’s father enthusiastically, who has come to pick up his daughter.

Jutta Kanstein is a passionate outdoor adventure guide as well as a tourism guide in several Luxembourg regions. She enjoys infusing her tours with stories and history. She and Laurence met at a “Hëlt” event near Rosport, one of the geotopes of the UNESCO Global Geopark “Nature & Geopark Mëllerdall”. They talked about the mini-winemaker projects that already existed in Germany. They hit it off and soon decided to set up a similar project here in Luxembourg.

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“Hunnefeier”: the grand finale

The miniWënzer came into existence this year. The “A Wiewesch” nature reserve centre in Manternach provides the supporting materials. Visit the centre for an interactive exploration of the Manternacher Fiels nature reserve. At the moment, the miniWënzer meet up five Saturdays per year in the forest near the vineyard. At the end of the season, they celebrate a real “Hunnefeier”, just like winemakers do after the harvest. Another autumn highlight is the “Mini Käch” get-together where the children cook and eat together before exploring the vineyard.

“We’re also thinking about expanding,” says Jutta Kanstein. Future offers could include one-day events for tourists, for example. Tending vines, harvesting grapes, tasting wine…it’s a wonderful adventure for families and individuals alike!

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