Teenager raised in vineyards shares her stories as the Kurpfalz Wine Queen
While most teenagers are forbidden from getting too close to strong alcohol, 19-year-old Nicole Gaertner is an exception, getting to drink it each day with the support of her family.
Born in idyllic Heidelberg, Germany, Gaertner's playground was a mountain of vineyards covering 10 square kilometers.
"My parents inherited the vineyard from my grandfather," she said.
Gaertner recalled that when she was three years old, she toddled after her grandfather and picked grapes as if she was a professional. When she was 16, she was encouraged to taste the product, in order to train her sensibility and taste for wine.
"Every morning, my family and I would bond over a bottle of wine after breakfast. The wine was made from the grapes grown in our vineyard," she said.
The gewrztraminers grape is the one most often planted in the Baden wine producing region of her home town, which is an aromatic wine grape variety with a pink to red skin color.
"The wine made from gewrztraminers is full of the aroma of roses, passion fruit and floral notes. It is my favorite wine."
She said the wine is one of the most suitable for drinking with Asian cuisine.
Because she drinks wine almost every day, getting drunk is something that definitely happens from time to time.
"In Germany, wine is something to appreciate. It is a kind of enjoyment. It is true that every one has been drunk," she said with a smile.
In 2009, Gaertner was crowned the Kurpfalz Wine Queen out of more than 60 candidates in Baden area in a traditional competition dating back to the 1930s. All the candidates were from families from wineries or wine planters and they competed for the honor through their knowledge off all things wine-related.
"When I was crowned, I was very excited. I owe my success to my love of wines."
This June, Gaertner, as the Kurpfalz Wine Queen, visited Beijing during Top Wine China 2010, an international exhibition for the Chinese wine market, and introduced wines from Winzerkeller Wiesloch winery to the capital's wine lovers.
"Winzerkeller Wiesloch is the second largest winery in the Baden wine producing region. Established in 1935, the winery has a good tradition and cutting-edge brewing technology," she said.
Holding a glass of wine between her fingers, Gaertner added: "This is the benefit of being the queen, I get to share wines from my hometown with Beijing wine lovers."
In addition to sharing her knowledge of wine, she got to see something of the city and said Beijing impressed her a lot.
"It is a cosmopolitan city. It has the oldest history and the newest economy and buildings. I believe I will come to visit again, to study or introduce wines," she said.
"I have tried Peking duck. It is very delectable but I think it would be even better if accompanied with some German wines."
The blonde, who is still a student, says she plans to fill her life with wine.
"I'm sure wine will [always be] part of my life," she said.