'Working with horses and animals helps us come back to the land. It is not so easy to return to healthy soils after so many years of chemicals. For me, these older techniques help us to come back to this — to find greater balance.'
It's almost impossible to talk about Michael Gindl without talking about his animals. The 30 Scottish Highland cattle provide all the manure for Michael, are cold resistant and are happy to hang out in the snow in the winter. The 20 Breton dwarf sheep help to graze the vineyards; they eat the bottom vine leaves, but once 50% of the fruit starts ripening, they would start eating the berries and need to be moved to other vineyards. The horses help mowing and rotating cover crops. As Michael rarely opens the soil – "healthy soil doesn't need to be opened" – the horses are not used for ploughing but help with spraying. Michael hopes to use tractors less and less to reduce soil compaction, as vines would be much healthier and can then protect themselves with just biodynamic preparations. Michael took over the family winery in the village of Hohenruppersdorf when he was just 20 years old.
His dedication to biodynamics and inspiration draws from his early childhood when he would ‘work’ all day with his grandfather visiting the animals on the farm, but also going to the vineyards and cellar. His vines sit on a variety of soil types: loam, loess, sandstone, clay and chalk. In the cellar, Michael was one of the first in Austria to use acacia barrels instead of oak for aging. Lightly toasted acacia barrels don't kill the floral aroma from grapes like Grüner Veltliner, bringing out delicacy and elegance of the wine.
As the saying goes, what's old is revolutionary. Michael has been a rebel using the most traditional methods, and at this point in his career, he's found his stride.