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Remembering Wilhelm Haag (1937-2020)

Fritz Haag winemaker Wilhelm Haag in the vineyard

The world of wine has lost a singular spirit with the passing of Mosel legend Wilhelm Haag, who succumbed to an aggressive recurrence of cancer on December 16, 2020. It is a devastating and unimaginable loss of a man who, like his wines, was irrepressibly robust, exuberant and joyful.

Wilhelm was one of the most genuine humans I have known, and I’m sure that all who met him will remember his generous, unpretentious nature and ever-youthful gusto. Personally, I will never forget his boisterous bear hug of a handshake that transmitted his intense love of life directly into your bones. While not at all a macho test of manhood, his trademark greeting did seem to issue the challenge: “Are you up to the task of understanding supremely refined wines from the brawny hands of a simple farmer?”

Wilhelm was an elemental force in the Mosel valley for more than 60 years. Not only did his tenacious quest for perfection propel his own Fritz Haag estate to the pinnacle of global acclaim (Weingut Fritz Haag was the first estate to be named “Winemaker of the Year” by the Gault Millau Weinguide Deutschland, in 1994), but through his work with the VDP winegrowers association he was instrumental in the effort to raise the standard of quality and the international reputation of the entire Mosel wine region.

As magnanimous as he was humble, Wilhelm was a mentor and father-figure to generations of winemakers in the valley. This includes our own Ernst Loosen, who recalls, “Wilhelm really helped me a lot in my early days, giving me sincere support and valuable advice when some others seemed to think that I was just a dumb kid.”

All of us at Loosen Bros. USA are deeply saddened and will forever miss Wilhelm’s unbridled enthusiasm and convivial energy. We extend heartfelt condolences to our dear friend Oliver Haag, his mother and brother, and the entire Haag family. We know, however, that Wilhelm would not want us to mourn tearfully, but rather to cheerfully celebrate his long, fruitful career and embrace the unrestrained lust for life that he embodied. Ein Prosit, lieber Wilhelm!

—Kirk Wille

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