Alumna Janina Huhn Crowned German Wine Queen

Montag, 22. Dezember 2014 | 

Schlagwörter »  |  Thema: englisch

The German Wine Queen for the year 2014/15 is Janina Huhn, alumna of the University of Freiburg. Born in Bad Dürkheim, the 24-year-old was practically born into the winemaking business. Her father works as a viticulturalist at the wine-growing cooperative in Deidesheim, whose wine cellar she has been familiar with since she was a child. After finishing school, Huhn studied history, Latin, and philosophy in Freiburg. Following completion of her bachelor’s degree, she went on to do an internship at the winery Pfeffingen and extend her knowledge on wine at the International Wine School in London. In 2012 she was crowned wine princess of her hometown and in the following year Wine Queen of the Palatinate. This year on 26 September she was then selected as the 66th German Wine Queen. With a combination of specialist knowledge, eloquence, humor, and a winning personality, she prevailed in a difficult finale against six other candidates. She will now travel around the world for a year promoting German wine.

Janina Huhn, Deutsche Weinkönigin 2014/15.
Janina Huhn, German Wine Queen for the year 2014/15. Source:

alumni‘aktuell: Ms. Huhn, the largest wine festival in the world is held each year in your hometown Bad Dürkheim. Wine has also played an important role in your family for a long time. What motivated you to initially embark on another path after completing school and study history, Latin, and philosophy in Freiburg?

Janina Huhn: The first thing I wanted to do after finishing school was to leave home and get away from my parents. The combination of history as a basis, Latin as a linguistic gateway, and philosophy as a fitting meta-science was simply what interested me at the time. I initially enrolled in a teaching degree program with those three fields of study – but then my passion for wine intervened, which is why I ended up opting for the bachelor’s degree instead.

alumni‘aktuell: What made you decide to study in Freiburg?

Janina Huhn: The University of Freiburg required an on-campus entrance exam for philosophy. So I went to Freiburg. The test was held in the Audimax. It was pretty full, the problems were difficult, and I thought: You won’t get accepted anyway. After the test I took a little walk around town, which I of course liked a lot: The medieval streets with the “Bächle” flowing through them, the typical student flair, and the green surroundings on the edge of the Black Forest are a great combination. Fortunately I ended up being admitted to the degree program. I had the chance to study my dream combination of fields in a great city, so it wasn’t very hard to make the decision.

alumni‘aktuell: What do you remember most about your time studying in Freiburg?

Janina Huhn: Several things: I loved passing through Schwabentor and along the canal on Gerberau on my way to the university. The university itself was also a real home for me – when I come back for a visit, I always make a point of walking through the halls and up to the library of the Department of Classical Philology. After my time in Freiburg I studied for a few semesters in Heidelberg, but I never developed such a feeling of being at home there. But my favorite building is the cathedral: In history I took a practical course that revealed the secrets behind this unique building to the participants. And a culinary highlight for me was always my daily cappuccino at Art Café.

alumni‘aktuell: You wrote your bachelor’s thesis on Plato’s Symposium. What appealed to you about this text?

Janina Huhn: When I was writing the thesis, wine was already pretty much the most important thing in my life, and I wanted to make a connection between this passion and my studies. Plato has always been my favorite philosopher; in history I also came across him as a historical source. So I just wanted to see what Plato had to say about wine, and it of course wasn’t long before I stumbled on the Symposium. What interested me was less the philosophical content of the text, which has already been interpreted many times, than the situation surrounding the discussion – the text contains several hints about the circumstances under which a social gathering like that described in the Symposion was held in Plato’s time and of course about how people drank wine back then.

alumni‘aktuell: You already have more than two years experience promoting German wines. What has impressed you most during this time?

Janina Huhn: The close contact to the wine industry has had a lasting influence on me: At the events you visit as an ambassador you’re constantly encountering people who have an ardent interest in the same thing. In particular, I’ve met many winemakers with an unbelievable passion and great ideas. I was impressed by this atmosphere from the start – you might say I’ve fallen a bit in love with the industry and therefore don’t want to leave it anymore. It’s just plain fun to work with a cultural product meant for enjoyment like wine. What’s more, I often have the good fortune of being able to taste premium wines, and every sip makes me happy.

alumni‘aktuell: You will now wear the crown of the German Wine Queen for a year. What are your main goals as ambassador of German wine?

Janina Huhn: What I find most important is to let the entire world know what great wines we have in Germany! By this I mean both people in our foreign markets, where there’s still plenty we can do to improve our image – a fact I’ve experienced myself on trips to Shanghai and Toronto – and Germans themselves: We’re a wine nation! All we need to do now is get the message across. It would be great if more of us would identify with our wines. Another topic that is especially important for me is wine culture, which I bring to the job on account of my studies: I see wine as a cultural product that has deep historical roots but is at the same time trendy and stands for a modern lifestyle that emphasizes enjoyment.

alumni‘aktuell: Baden has 16,000 hectares of vineyards, making it Germany’s third largest wine region. The University of Freiburg has also owned several vineyards since its foundation in the year 1457. In your opinion, what makes the University of Freiburg’s wine stand apart?

Janina Huhn: The fact that a time-honored institution like the University of Freiburg maintains its own vineyards out of a sense of tradition testifies to its appreciation for this history and its bond with the region. Besides, the university wine is the perfect example of how it’s also possible to get young people interested in wine culture. I still remember very well how I saw the wine sale in KG III for the first time and thought: That’s cool, my university makes wine! I identified with it right away. Of course I then brought some home to give to the entire family for Christmas.

alumni‘aktuell: Last but not least: Would you tell us what wine you like most?

Janina Huhn: I’ve always been a classic Riesling fan: It’s a variety that simply never gets boring; I’m always discovering exciting new ones. Besides that, my tastes change fairly often – at the moment I’m particularly interested in pinot blancs and chardonnays aged in barrique wine barrels. Aging white wines in these little oak barrels is tricky. You have to find just the right balance between the crisp white wine aromas and the oak aromas. You can taste that our German winemakers are starting to get the hang of it – the pinot region Baden in particular can boast great examples of such wines.

alumni‘aktuell: Thank you for the interview, Ms. Huhn. We wish you all the best for your time as German Wine Queen.

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