Who: Martin and Blandine Minkowitsch
Where: Mannersdorf, Weinviertel
What grapes: Gruner Veltliner
How many bottles: 40,000
Key facts: A 11-hectare, 15th generation family farm on the border of Slovakia. Very traditional cellar work and healthy farming.
Minkowitsch Gruner Veltliner Weinviertel DAC
Soil type: loam/loess
Grapes: Gruner Veltliner
Method of fermentation: crushed in a large wooden press from 1820. Cool fermented in stainless steel, aged in large wooden fuders.
Bottles made: 9,000
Hand-picked from vines up to 50 years old
Crushed in an old-style wooden tree press
Aged in large old oak barrels
I loved the spooky empty roads dotted with churches and villages hunkered down against the wind. It feels like the edge of something vast, inhuman in scale. I understand why the Austro-Hungarian monarchy fortified this eastern border with Croatian militiamen at the beginning of the 17thcentury. I also understand the pull of religion in this landscape. It feels like a place where something unremitting and powerful could be just over the horizon.
I mentioned Mannersdorf to a friend from Vienna recently. He said something to the effect that it is “the real Austria,” the place where things are as they have always been. We know culturally that this is the edge of something, but it feels like you entered snowglobe world – the sky is big, foreboding and grey and there are no hills mountains or trees. The edge of something – it is not the world of Western Europe.
In 1620, 14 generations ago, Martin Minkowitsch’s ancestors moved into the house that he shares with his French wife Blandine and their six children. I’m not sure how many generations occupied their time beating back the encroaching Ottomans. I do know that farming has been a priority across the generations. Martin is closely related to the late Lens Moser, who revolutionized Austria’s vine trellising system.
Sustainable, natural farming on the border of Slovakia. Family farm. 11.5 hectares. Since 1620. Martin took over in 2014. Nephew of Roland, son of Reinhold. Married to Blandine Minkowitsch. They have six children, who are the 15thgeneration of the family to live on the farm. The family emigrated to Austria from Croatia in 1620, were settled on the eastern border to defend the Austro-Hungarian empire from Ottomans. Many of the vines for this wine are 40+ years old.