A winery run by students, for students. Their own brand and concept in which students are responsible for the success of their own product. This is the dream behind Geisenheim’s Wine Production. Since last year, students studying International Wine Business and Viticulture & Enology, together with Prof. Robert Göbel, have been working on making this dream a reality. In the winter semester of 2015/16, Geisenheim students in their 5th and 6th semester, and 20 students from the Hochschule for Gestaltung Offenbach (HfG) developed four competing brand concepts, which they presented to a specialised jury at the end of the summer semester 2016.
When the four concepts were presented in the VIP-Lounge of the Sparda-Bank-Hessen in Offenbach, Ingmar Jung, state secretary in the Hessian Ministry for Science and the Arts stated: “The simple idea of the students having their own vineyard is great and well worth supporting”. The whole event was independently organized by the students. “I wanted to let the students work as freely as possible, and limited my part in the project to consulting and mentoring. I wanted to give them only the “how” part; the “what” part was entirely up to the participants”, explained Göbel who teaches Strategic Management & Consulting at Geisenheim University.
“Focusing on experience is what helps us move forward”
Not only state secretary Jung was impressed by this way of teaching at Geisenheim University. Jürgen Weber, the chairman of the management department at Sparda-Bank Hessen eG, which is financially supporting the project, showed equal enthusiasm: “We want to support these two universities in this pioneering role. With this project students have the opportunity to arrange practical experience themselves.”
“Focusing on experience is what helps us move forward”, agreed the students’ representative Annika Bauer at the presentation of the four brand concepts, one of which was chosen by votes from the audience and specialised jury. The goal of this project was not only to produce a brand that is capable of competing, but also to develop a sense of entrepreneurial behaviour. “Each student brought strengths and weaknesses into this project”, said Bauer.
Transfer of knowledge before everything else
All four concepts were completely different, both visually and regarding the content. The Momentum Winery Team’s idea was based on making memories tangible, using typical characters which people recognize from their own university years, such as the lateral thinker, the diva or the night owl. Due to their intelligently-designed presentation they were voted first place for visuals by the audience. Prof. Sascha Lobe from HfG was impressed and said: “It’s incredible how intelligently people are able use pictograms!”
Team WiLD made their mark by using different colours and typography in their presentation for which they were praised as being courageous by the jury who also very much liked their concept. The Campus Winery group focused its concept on the transfer of knowledge, seeing Geisenheim University as a “laboratory of the future”, which won them first place with the audience: every label was designed as a flyer full of information, and there was also an online wine diary and even an online quiz. In the winery students should gain practical experience which can be passed on to the consumer – this was shown in the short image-film.
The future of this students’ vineyard
All in all the jury was most convinced by team number four named Projekt No.1 with their slogan “Change is our nature”. Their focus was on experimentation and curiosity. This was made clear to the jury and the audience with a self-developed vinograph (a gadget from an old drawing machine) which depicts qualities of every vintage, concerning weather, tasks in the cellar and grape variety in an abstract pattern. Göbel praised this concept as distinctive and able to be enhanced, while his colleague from HfG was impressed by the “strength of original creativity”.
So, what about the future for Geisenheim’s Wine Production? Next winter and summer semester students will develop wine-cellar concepts, covering the topics “architectural and landscape architectural concepts concerning a students’ winery”, “process technology, enology, technology, storage, laboratory and office”, “technology and external connections, energy, water and savings”, also “business plan with investment, operation costs, work costs, cellar and marketing”. This project will take place within the framework of the courses ‘Strategic Planning’ (WS) and ‘Consulting and Communication’ (SoSe), for which students of all courses of studies at Geisenheim University can apply.