'I expanded my Furmint vineyards in the 90s when everyone else was planting Chardonnay & Sauvignon Blanc. It was an adventure — like climbing a summit in the Austrian Alps.'
Furmint and Austria would not be the same without the story of the Wenzel family. Based in Rust, a (former) stronghold of world- famous sweet wines, Michael Wenzel’s grandfather and father believed in this grape so much that they secretly smuggled back historic clones from Hungary in times of the Iron Curtain and Cold War, risking getting caught (with severe consequences). But when they arrived back to the Hungarian-Austrian border, Wenzel senior would pull out his clarinet, playing old Hungarian folk music which was forbidden back in the communist time. The officer, despite his secret affection for the music, quickly pushed them through border control, allowing the hidden rootstocks to reach their final destination - a vineyard with layered limestone and blue quartz named Vogelsang.
Today, Michael cultivates 3 of the 10 hectares of Furmint planted in the country and is widely considered to be a pioneer of this variety in Austria. The quartz, gneiss and mica schist soils of his vineyards are perfectly suited to the Furmint grape, producing structured, mineral wines. He also grows Blaukfränkisch grapes on his more calcareous sites, which yield focused, elegant expressions of this traditional Austrian variety. Michael is dedicated to organic farming and minimal intervention winemaking - preferring to let his grapes speak for themselves. All his wines are spontaneously fermented without the addition of any yeast, and the cellar work is kept to a bare minimum.