Daniel Priller and David Caspers sell sparkling wine and donate part of the profits to an initiative for those leaving the right-wing scene.

Two women and two men protest against each other.

Alcohol has an effect: David Caspers (left) and Daniel Priller try sparkling wine with two guests Photo: Stefanie Loos

“Flowers. Fruit. “Fun,” says the woman with the glass of rosé in her hand. So the sparkling wine she just tried tastes like flowers, fruit, and fun. We met for a small champagne tasting in a shop in Neukölln, type: studio style office. There is chatter and toasts, but there are also some quiet guests present; They watch us drink from posters on the wall.

People of different ages, mostly men, who have one thing in common: they managed to get out of the right-wing panorama. “Without Exit, my hatred would never have stopped,” reads one poster. “Without Exit, I would never have accepted my racist past.” And also: “Sometimes I wonder if I would still be here without Exit…”

This is the “Leave Germany” initiative. For more than 20 years, it has supported people who want to break with right-wing extremism and build a new life. The two tasting hosts explain how this is accompanied by flowers, fruit and fun while we wait for the guests. Daniel Priller (41) and David Caspers (31) are the founders and heads of “Sekko Soziale”; They market their products under the motto “Encourage instead of exclude.”

Concretely, this means: for every liter sold, you will donate one euro to Exit Germany. From 2020 to 2022, more than 20,000 euros were raised in donations. Money that can be used to finance a move or tattoo removal, for example. “Many people don't know that leaving the scene can put their life in danger,” Priller says with a serious expression.

Social beer, lemonade and water, but no social champagne

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Priller and Caspers had the idea of ​​producing sparkling wine “with social impact” when they wanted to order sparkling wine at the Fusion Festival in the summer of 2018. Then it occurred to them: there is social beer, social lemonade, even social water, but no sparkling wine social. In fact, the principle of linking the sale of drinks with the mission of improving the world is not new in Germany. If you want to have a clear conscience when drinking, there are a few options.

The Hamburg start-up LemonAid, founded in 2009, donates 5 cents for every bottle of ChariTea lemonade or iced tea sold to development projects, for example in South Africa. It is said that 7 million euros have already been raised. The Viva con Agua association is also based in Hamburg and has been selling mineral water and toilet paper since 2010 through affiliated companies. The money is intended to promote the provision of clean water and sanitation facilities in the Global South.

The Berliner Bier Quartiermeister, for its part, focuses on initiatives that promote social participation in a local context in Germany. These are determined by online voting: an “art therapy for traumatized refugees”, a “gift box” and “Christmas in the street”, for example, have already benefited from this.

Why not for a social cause?
David Caspers, founder of Sekko Social

“If you organize music festivals and admit them, unfortunately you have a lot of contact with the Nazis.”

Hamburg-based Fritz-Kola also regularly donates to projects such as Laut gegen Nazis and Exit Deutschland, while Franconian pioneer Bionade founded, among other things, the “Diversity 2030” initiative, which aims to create 17 million square meters of green spaces. in Germany they are friendlier to insects.

Sekko Social hasn't gone that far yet. The guests for the champagne tasting are slowly arriving at the office. “Typically Berlin,” Daniel Priller tells David Caspers, and they both laugh. You know it; Before founding Sekko Soziale, Priller and Caspers worked in the culture and events sector.

From their experience in the Berlin nightlife, they also know that sparkling wine is very popular in techno clubs and festivals and that many are willing to pay a little more for it. So why not combine it with a good cause?

After a champagne breakfast, you'll be ready to work.

When all the guests finally arrive, the lights dim and celebratory music plays. Now it's really how you imagine a wine tasting. “We're going to take you on a little trip,” Priller says in English, and then the two talk about their drinks. After the first round with the Sekko Rosé, a blend of Pinot Noir and Merlot, comes the white, a cuvée of Riesling, Bacchus and Müller-Thurgau, also sparkling. “It bubbles in your mouth,” explains Priller. That is the difference with the sparkling wine that follows, which would “bubble”. One is silent, the other loud.

Sekko Soziale sources the two sparkling wines and its sparkling wine from the Hemer winery in Rheinhessen, a family business founded in 1902 that is based exclusively on organic farming. Only alcohol-free Sekko is not produced organically; Here it took some time to find a winemaker whose quality and price matched. “But for us it was important to have it in our range so as not to exclude people who don't drink alcohol,” says Daniel Priller. “And it's also in our personal interest to arrive at work fit after a champagne breakfast.”

Non-alcoholic sparkling wine becomes the star of the evening. “Not so sweet. Delicious!” says one, “like water, only more festive,” says another. “There's really nothing to it?” asks one participant. It's like eating good vegan gyros and not being sure if they're really vegan. I also like convinces, although I am actually skeptical about non-alcoholic versions of alcoholic drinks.

Leaving Germany

Regular sparkling wine is also well received and is described as “dry and refreshing”. The sugar content is only 4.2 grams per liter, explains Priller, because: “Cheap sparkling wine brands use a lot of sugar. This will surely leave you hungover the next day.” For comparison: dry Rotkäppchen sparkling wine has 20 grams, semi-dry 36 grams per liter.

Then things get more serious, because the group asks why they chose to Leave Germany. “If you organize music festivals and admit them, unfortunately you have a lot of contact with the Nazis,” says Daniel Priller. “We believe that racism and right-wing extremism have no place in our society,” says David Caspers.

But they are one of the biggest problems in Germany. “It's our responsibility to change that.” That's why it was important for Caspers and Priller to do “something here locally,” even as many social enterprises invested in a better standard of living for people in the Global South.

A heart for those who hate

In the end several factors came together. “We want to contribute to something constructive. Many organizations are quite 'anti', which is fine with us, but we didn't want to point fingers, we wanted to do something proactively,” says Priller. And so they finally came across Exit Germany, which in 2019 was threatening to close due to funding cuts.

Sekko Soziale's goals are sometimes misunderstood. “I don't spend money on Nazis,” they would hear something like that. Priller and Caspers respond to hate comments on their social channels with heart emojis. “Fortunately” so far there have been no concrete threats from the right.

However, concerned about this, some retailers – “especially in the East” – would prefer not to sell Sekko Soziale. “And retailers have also told us we're too political for them,” Caspers says. They themselves see drinking and toasting together as an act of inclusion. “When people drink and have fun together, it doesn't matter what background, gender, age and everything else.”