Gindl

Michael Gindl

Michael Gindl runs a Demeter-certified biodynamic farm Hohenruppersdorf, in north east Austria, just 20 kilometers from the Slovakian border, complete with thirty hectares of land for animals and agriculture and ten hectares of vines. It’s an understatement to say that it’s unusual in the area. The Weinviertal is very fertile and there are huge fields of grain and vines; most vineyards are managed by machine and the grapes are sold in bulk for a very low price.  Michael’s vineyards are completely different: the grass is long, the vines are not trimmed, and he’s planted vines at 1.5-2 meters apart compared to the norm of 3 meters in the area. What he is doing is not so crazy – this is how people used to farm. They had grain, vegetables, hay, animals and vines. Perhaps we could make the argument that he is traditional!

Michael Gindl’s grandfather used to run the family winery and Michael was always by his side. Unfortunately, when Michael was seven years old, his grandfather passed away. Michael’s dad took over, but winemaking was not his calling, so he maintained the property until Michael was old enough to run it himself. Michael never trained at another winery and discovered his philosophy on his own. He started making the wine while he was a teenager and now, he’s one of the most riveting winemakers in Austria.

Inspired by the wines of his grandfather, which were made with nearly no manipulation or intervention, he converted his winery and vineyards to Demeter biodynamics, certified as of 2014. His 10 hectares are planted extremely densely, with 7,000-10,000 vines per hectare (compared to the average 3,000 vines common in the area) growing in loam and loess soil. This forces the vines to behave highly competitively, resulting in low yields of highly concentrated fruit. He uses cover crops to keep down weeds and pest control is handled by the buzzards (buteos) that roam the vineyards. All vineyard work is done by hand or horse: Michael currently has three horses for work on the farm. Interestingly, Gindl has found that he averages about 40% more yields by working with horse because tractors compact the soil and reduce the crop.

He harvests all grapes by hand in three passes. The first pass goes into the Little Buteo; he keeps a higher percentage of the fruit from the loam soil for this wine. The second pass goes into a cuvée called Buteo and has more fruit from loess soils; this shows more fruit and body and is aged in oak. The third pass goes into Buteo ‘Twelve”, which gets more skin contact and is made in an oxidative style. The oldest Grüner Veltliner— from 60-year-old vines— goes into Michael’s top cuvée, Sol.  In the cellar he uses only native fermentation, extended aging on lees, some maceration on the skins (the length of time depends on the cuvee). The wines are bottled unfiltered. For aging and fermentation he uses a mix of stainless steel and large wooden barrels made from oak and acacia harvested from Gindl’s own land. His friend is a local cooper and makes the barrels for him.

A good story is one thing; what is really impressive is the wines. We’ve tasted a lot of Grüner Veltliner and nothing like this has ever crossed our path. Complex, rich, and fascinating, they defy expectations and express a side of the region and terroir that previously went unspoken.

Image PRODUCT Description Country / Region Region Materials

DB1344-17
Biodynamic
Flora
2017
An aromatic blend of Riesling, Scheurebe, Gelber Muskateller, fermented spontaneously.  Austria Weinviertel

DB1347-12
Organic
Sol
2012
Grüner Veltliner
60% Gruner Veltliner from 55-60 year-old vines grown in loam and 40% Weissburgunder (Pinot Blanc) from a sandy soil. All grapes are... Read More
Austria Weinviertel

DB1345-15
Biodynamic
Grüner Veltliner little Buteo
2015
Grüner Veltliner
50% of the grapes were whole cluster pressed and the other 50% had a short maceration on the skins for 4–8 hours. After the maceration, the... Read More
Austria Weinviertel