My estate Many ways lead to a goal, also detours. My career as a winegrower was not predetermined and born out of necessity. My grandparents and parents had already run a farm in Elsarn, first as a polycultural estate later as grapes supplier for the cooperative. I trained to become a mechanic and kept aligned indirectly to winemaking by working as a driver for Freie Weingärtner Wachau. In the course of its restructuring and change of name into Domäne Wachau I lost my job and had to start reorganising my life.
In 2006 I made a virtue out of necessity and assumed the vineyard of my parents – all together three hectares which are spread over the bottom end of the Spitzer Graben. Not very much, one could consider, but since my terraces are all cultivated organically, and since they are steep and rough I would not be able to manage much more on my own.
The conversion to organic farming is due to the help of my fellow winemaker and friend Peter-Veyder Malberg who slowly introduced me into the world of alternative and sustainable winemaking methods. From there to the idea of creating top quality wines the way was a short one.
In the first years a small Heurigen (a traditional wine tavern) helped to make ends meet and familiarize people with my wines. The reason why I had to quit it has its background in a new project I started in the Brandstatt, one of the most spectacular vineyards in the Wachau which I am going to restructure in the following years.
My wines are not out of a textbook. I have never attended a viticultural school and do not consider it as something I have missed. This way I have never been laced into the corset of recommendations and opinions – they would probably have hampered me to take decisions with the freedom I did then and do now. Instead I listened to a lot of winemakers and learned my craft by talking to old farmers of the regions.
Absolutely essential in my development was the gradual approximation to organic winegrowing. Thereby I followed a double hypothesis which long ago changed into a firm belief: on the one hand I assumed that vines in an herbicide-and-fungicide free environment would develop better, on the other hand I wanted to represent the terroir of the Spitzer Graben as authentic and with as less interventions as possible.
The reason why my wines are not labelled Federspiel or Smaragd arise from a similar thought. It would take away the freedom to let the vintage speak and pigeonhole me and my wines in a system of hierarchies. To avoid these constraints corresponds with my self-conception as winegrower and human being.