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Franz & Petra Weninger
'It is important for us winemakers to learn about our history and roots. Most of the time, we were happier being in the West, not East. With time, we can now trust and be proud of our past; go further with it.'
Burgenland and Sopron, Austria and Hungary
A good place to start is Franz Weninger's fantastic and dangerously delicious rosé, which is named after his grandmother. Rózsa Petsovits was born 1921 in Horitschon, Hungary in the shadow of WWI. Within the same year, Horitschon became part of Austria but the nearby city of Sopron defiantly voted to remain in Hungary. Today, almost a century on, the vinous history of Burgenland is still the history of German-speaking Hungarians.
Before the existence of a border between Austria and Hungary, Sopron was considered to be the heart of the historic winemaking region. It is thought to be the likely birthplace of Blaukfränkisch, locally known as Kékfrankos. The Weninger Family's winemaking roots can be traced back to 1828, when the name first appeared in the records. In 1997, not long after Hungary started opening up following the fall of the Iron Curtain, Franz's father acquired some parcels close to the town of Balf near Sopron. Three years later, upon his return from California, a young Franz took over the Hungarian operations and immediately started experimenting with spontaneous fermentation instead of using commercial yeasts.
During the Communist era, Hungary’s winemaking culture was severely compromised. Many old vines were uprooted, and plantings were replaced with more commercially viable international varieties. Throughout the 2000s, Franz and his father have done considerable work to rediscover the region’s unique traits and traditions, converting to biodynamics in 2006 to unlock the full potential of all 50ha of vines on either side of the border.