When Michael Gindl, born 1983, finished agricultural school in 2002. it was already clear to him that he wanted to run the farm that his family has owned since 1807. This farm has always practiced mixed agriculture with crops, livestock, forestry, and wine. After the early death of his grandfather, Michael’s mother managed the farm because his father worked as a food inspector. Michael already took over the responsibility for vinification during his school years.
Michael simultaneously began his orientation towards biodynamic methods and increased efforts to make the farm as autarchic as possible. “In 2010 I took back all the leased fields. This fall I will expand in leasing another 25 hectares thus doubling our acreage. At present the amount of grain is too small for effective commercial exploitation. So this is economization because I don’t have to work on it myself all the time. A tractor driver can do the main work. And I can produce more specialties, for example: einkorn wheat, which will be the basis for a beer.”
“Currently I have 10 hectares of vineyards which can only be expanded very carefully to a maximum of 12 hectares. I have the potential for 2 more hectares in good sites. We planted one hectare this spring, but another hectare has been pulled out.” Increasingly more animals also inhabit the Gindl farm. Highland cattle have been bred since 2012 and soon horses will follow to work in the vineyards. “My goal is to be able to butcher on my own farm, so I also have pigs to ensure good utilization. And my Breton dwarf sheep will help me by grazing in the vineyards!” Consequently Michael joined the Demeter association of biodynamic farming.
To preserve the individuality and genuineness obtained in the vineyards, the grapes are pressed very gently, rarely racked, and fermented spontaneously without any use of selected yeast or temperature control. Michael Gindl expounds, “I really try to do as little as possible – in fact nothing! The wines remain on the lees for a very long time and get a small dose of sulphur only shortly before bottling. My aim is to use more wooden barrels and less steel tanks in the future.” It is interesting to know that the barrels in his cellar are made from acacia and oak from his own forests. His own agriculture and forestry allow him to closely approximate the biodynamic ideal of a holistic farm.
Meinklang is an original, family-run mixed farm, set in the middle of the World Heritage Site of the National Park Neusiedlersee, on the Eastern side of the Neusiedlersee Lake, bordering directly on the Hungarian lowlands, where life’s diversity and complexity are celebrated.
This farm functions much like an organism, relying not only on the people but also on the local herd of cows which contributes in an essential way with their natural and invaluable fertilizer.
The farm’s diversity is enriched by ancient grains such as spelt, farro, and einkorn wheat, as well as the fruit orchards and vegetable gardens, meadows of wild herbs and flowers, and the elegant charm of the grapevines.
Georg Schmelzer is a fourth generation winemaker in the Gols region near Lake Neusiedl in Austria. Georg’s winemaking philosophy is in line with the Demeter guidelines and uses a variety of biodynamic preparations for the revitalization of the soil and keeping his vines as healthy as possible.
Practices like the utilization of horn manure, ground crystal, and infusions of herb, such as horsetail, all participate in promoting soil health and vine strength and metabolism. The harvest is done by hand and the wine is aged in neutral oak without filtering, fining, or addition of any sulfur. It’s this respect for the land and the ability to let the grapes express themselves with minimal intervention that make Schmelzer’s Weingut so special.
Andreas Nittnaus and Martin Nittnaus
Anita and Hans are the owners of a winery at the Neusiedlersee in Burgenland, which is Austria’s center of red and sweet wines. They produce wines which are affected by terroir – authentic and full of character in opposition to oak and high alcohol styles, and they’ve embraced biodynamic agriculture in their vineyards since 2007. Their sons Andreas and Martin are gradually converting parts of the cellar to non-additive, natural wines, which represent 15% of the winery’s production.