The New Generation
Austria, the wine country on the right track
Wineries and wine-producing farms share an age-old tradition, much like wine itself. That they have come to offer a degree of architectural interest as well is a relatively recent phenomena, which stems from the new demands of an innovative younger generation of winegrowers.
A winery must provide a flexible and adaptable working area in order to allow the grower to cope with all aspects of winemaking, from receiving the grapes all the way through the processes of fermentation and ageing, all the way to bottling and expedition. One perceives a great deal of international influence in winery design, mostly due to young vintners’ work experience abroad in foreign wineries, something that has proven a positive trend in recent years. Nowadays it is quite normal for a winegrower’s son or daughter to spend a vintage at another—often new-world—winery, or even to study abroad—compared with as little as twenty-five years ago, when only seldom did a young winemaker spend time at other wineries. The parents’ generation worked hard to build up the family wine business, and if they ventured outside the borders, this took the form of brief visits to other European wine-growing regions.
The new generation
Austrian winemakers of the new generation are diligent and innovative; thirsty for knowledge, they have an avid interest in what’s going on all around the globe. Most of them have graduated from internationally recognised oenological colleges, or have earned wine-related degrees from Klosterneuburg, Krems or Silberberg in Austria—as well as Geisenheim in Germany, Montpellier and Bordeaux in France, and even the University of California in Davis—and garnered practical experience in an ever-growing number of wine-producing countries. Comprehensive courses cover vineyard management, oenology and modern winemaking techniques, coupled with instruction in marketing and public relations. As a result, roles within the family estates have changed somewhat: where traditionally the father became responsible for the vineyards after his son took over in the cellar, it’s now not uncommon for the elder winemaker to step back from management and embark upon a new, perhaps ambassadorial, role.
The unique and distinctively recognisable character and personalities of Grüner Veltliner, Zweigelt and Blaufränkisch easily explain why it is that these indigenous and thoroughly Austrian grape varieties are our most widely planted and important vines. Their fruit produces marvelously complex wines, ranging from lively and aromatic whites to rich and opulent reds, culminating in exceptional nobly sweet dessert wines, prized and sought-after the world over.