Cultivated nature in the fourth generation

In the Styrian volcanic region, we cultivate 40 hectare of organic vineyards to produce reductive and long-lasting wines with a focus on complexity.

Weingut Winkler-Hermaden is a winery located on the Kapfensteiner Kogel, an extinct volcano, in south-eastern Styria. The 40 ha of vineyards are now husbanded by the third generation of our family according to organic guidelines. 28 ha of the vineyards are in Kapfenstein, whilst 12 ha can be found in Klöch, just 15 km away. We have managed the latter since 2004, when we took it over from the Gräflich Stürgkh’schen Weingut.

Our main white varieties are Sauvignon blanc, Traminer & Gewürztraminer, while we also produce Burgundies including Weissburgunder and Grauburgunder. The most significant reds in our repertoire are the Blauer Zweigelt, 100% of which is found in our well-known Olivin. The Blauer Zweigelt is followed by Merlot and Pinot noir.

Aside from nurturing varietal typicity, we also emphasize the ability to recognize the characteristics of the region and the individual vineyard in the wine. That is especially apparent in the so-called Lagenweine. These wines originate from very specific vineyards, and sections thereof, whose soil, microclimate and grapes produce a unique wine character.

Organic vineyard cultivation

Steep slopes on volcanic basalt tuffs and tertiary marine sediments, as well as high rainfall make manual work unavoidable.

As we work in the vineyards, we constantly strive to produce in ways that are sustainable and enhance quality. We try to keep alive and nurture the soil which, aside from the vines themselves, is also home to all of the microorganisms, plants and insects. That is why we are constantly searching for new physical and biological systems to help care for the vineyards. For example, we make use of mycorrhiza fungi, which live symbiotically with the vine, helping to make important nutrients available to the plants. On the other hand, through the right vegetation we try to provide more variety and humus for the soil. Higher biodiversity provides greater protection against plant pathogens.

Our vineyards are kept green year-round and mulched 3-4 times a year. Here we use an alternating mulching system, with only every other row receiving the mulch on each spreading. This guarantees that the plants will blossom and pollinate. After three years of converting to organic approaches, we produced our first official organic harvest in 2012.

In almost all vineyards, vines are trained using the Double Guyot system with a density of around 4500-5000 vines per hectare. In one of our vineyards, we are currently conducting very promising experiments using the double spurred cordon approach. In order to enhance our quality, we have thinned out our vines in some vineyards: by reducing the crop, the quality of the remaining berries increases. We begin shortly after the plants have blossomed, sometimes even during blossom time, in order to reduce the harvest to ca. 3000-4000 kg per hectare.

Our Wine Cellars

Our entire wine production takes place in a building complex that consists of the Drachenkeller (1999) and the Löwenkeller (circa 1800). While the Drachenkeller primarily focuses on as gentle processing of the grapes as possible, the Löwenkeller is where we ferment our whites. In order to process the grapes as gently as possible, we attempt to reduce shearforces and pressure on the grape mass as much as possible. This keeps the trub to a minimum, allowing for controlled, clean fermentation.

During fermentation, we work mostly with selected yeast. On occasion we also use blends of yeast, also “wild yeasts”, in order to increase complexity. However, we experiment time and again with spontaneous fermentation, that is to say, with yeasts that occur naturally on the grapes. This was the case, for example, with our Gewürztraminer Hochwarth 2011, which was fermented spontaneously in an amphora. Most white wines ferment in a temperature range of ca. 18-20°C, while reds do so at around 28°C.

We place great store in the use of our barrique barrels, which are manufactured from Kapfenstein oak. For the last 20 years, the 80 ha of forest owned by our family have provided sufficient oak for us to age our wine in wood. We see this is as contributing to a very distinctive form of terroir.