Stories from the field - Austria


6 min read

Tune into the Stories From The Field Austria stage for talks that dig deeper into the world of wine, by daily practitioners from the country - wonderful wine growers and makers, plus a wine writer, importer and distributor. Explore some of the questions yet unasked about natural wine,  discover how beautiful wines can be made at scale and hear how good growing isn’t about following a recipe, but listening to your gut. Find out more below and buy tickets to watch talks on demand.

Sunday, December 5, 2021
A short welcome from Austrian Wine at the beginning of the first talk
"We’re tired of endlessly talking about the same thing”, said Eduard on a recent call with team Alive!. “All people ever seem to ask about is winemaking - about sulfites, about fining or filtration. It is basically the same emphasis on the cellar that the conventional wine world is all about. Natural wine isn’t that. Natural wine is all about farming, so Stephanie and I would like to invite people to ask questions they’ve never asked before, about biodynamics, farming, natural wine and life in general”. 

Join the cult natural wine growing and making duo for a thought-provoking interchange on issues that go beyond fermented juice in a bottle. Find out, for example, what biodynamic preparations are, how they’re used and how they work? And why they think it took several years before their plants really began expressing a sense of place? Or even why and how the way they live mirrors their work with their plants...

Duration: 54 minutes
Big & Beautiful
One of the criticisms most often levied at clean agriculture, and indeed natural wine, is that it can’t be done at scale, and that, consequently, it will always be the remit of tiny, insignificant (or so naysayers would say), artisan producers. Meinklang is living proof that it is possible to farm beautifully at scale. It is a closed-loop, self-sufficient, 2000 ha (approx 5000 acre) biodynamic farm, home to Angus and Aubrac cattle herds, Mangalitsa pigs, horses, sheep and a few chickens. It grows spelt, oats, rye, winter and summer barley, winter and summer durum wheat (Einkorn, Emmer & Kamut), millet, corn and buckwheat, Topaz apples, grapes (some of which are completely unpruned), makes wine and even ancient grain beer. It founded a Steiner school and has recently begun stone-milling its own whole grain flour and is about to open a bakery in Vienna. Not only is the breadth and variety of agricultural products breath-taking, and hugely successful, but Meinklang is also living proof that for properly biodiverse poly-farms, bigger can even mean better.

Werner himself is the genius behind it all. He is warm, gentle and self-effacing, and truly inspirational for achieving what he has achieved with Meinklang. His success with the farm and its growth speaks volumes, but even more remarkable is the fact that this success has walked hand in hand with respect, care and love for all the plants, animals and humans in the farm community. This is a rare opportunity to hear from Werner in person.

Duration: 62 minutes
Letting Go
The pandemic has been tough on everyone but for some it has been tougher than most. Husband and wife team, Alex & Maria Koppitsch, farm 6 Ha in Burgenland, where Alex’s family has been making natural wine for generations. Tragically, Alex's brother passed away from Covid-19 last year and Alex himself has ended up with debilitating Long Covid, which has radically affected his work. “We were forced by circumstance to take a step back”, explains Maria “and the effect, in terms of the vineyard, was really surprising”. Join Maria, in conversation with Alexander Boily, to hear first-hand what happened to her family (both human and vine) over the last two years, and find out why even the darkest cloud can have a silver lining.

Duration: 60 minutes
See you tomorrow!
A short closing message at the end of Day 1.
Monday, December 6, 2021
Welcome back!
Hello again and welcome back to Day 2 of RAW WINE Alive!
Farming - a living interaction between man and nature.

As a farmer, you are of course free to try to exert your will on the land and plants that you grow but this approach is at best naive and at worst totally counterproductive since the myriad different relationships beneath and above ground are not controllable or even fully understandable by you. By exerting your will, or seeming control, in the short-term, you in fact create an imbalance, a catalyst for a vicious cycle of intervention that as a farmer has you working harder and harder. Great farming isn’t about exerting yourself over your farm. It requires a step back for the ego and a recognition that you are working with the living and that, like with all relationships, there has to be give and take in both directions. Great farming is two-way communication between the farmer and the natural world in his/her care. Join the “Schmecke das Leben” (“Taste Life”) producers Sepp, Ewald and Franz (three of Austria's most avant-garde, natural wine producers) for a conversation about their personal experiences in caring for soil, plants and the living in their cellars.

Duration: 56 minutes
Walk on the wild side
The story of two 2 young vignerons who decided 17 years ago to change their way of farming, thinking. Living and drinking.
With all the hope and fears to change dogmas, push limits and risk yields - everything to find the purest and honest quality of grapes and wine.

Duration: 63 minutes
Gut Feeling
Meet Martin and Adriana - an Austrian and Galician, husband-and-wife winemaking team. And while they are both technically trained enologist, they’re also, and above all, farmers. They live on the farm where Martin grew up, and for Martin, the farm is part of who he is. “We’re completely seasonal because that is just the way it is” explains Martin, “the seasons dictate our daily lives - we have to collect our firewood this autumn, for example, to make sure we have what we need for winter”. But this connection to the place, goes beyond the practical. It is a connection of the sort you have with an old friend. The natural rhythms of that particular place are part of who Martin is. He feels it. He is connected to, and a part of, the community (animal, human and vegetal) that makes up that place. And like with all living things, a lot of that very real connection is felt. "We recently had two interns who joined us from Geisenheim who kept asking about the ‘rules’ to follow in the vineyard - how many eyes do I leave on the branch while pruning? But there isn’t a recipe. That's not how we farm. We grow and make a lot on instinct. You have to feel it. For example, I arrived in the vineyard the other day - again with the interns in tow - and I knew something was wrong with the last row of vines that border my neighbour’s land. I felt it and when you looked closely you could see the vines had gone into overdrive. We realised that the neighbour had been ripping open the soil on his side and the vines were distressed. It is this gut feeling, this instinct, that you can’t learn at school and which has helped me make some of the best decisions of my life”. Join Martin and Adriana, and her first hand what difference trusting their gut feeling has made in their lives as farmers and as winemakers.

Duration: 60 minutes
Thank you & Farewell
A short farewell message from Austrian Wine

Austrian Wine

Austrian Wine is based in Vienna, and is a national service body for the Austrian wine industry. The organisation was founded in 1986 with the aim to strategically support, coordinate and maintain quality and sales.

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