VINE EX­PEC­TA­TIONS

Sil­via Hein­rich from J. Hein­rich

Epicure - - CONTENTS -

Itake the train 100km from Vi­enna to the well-man­i­cured town of Deutschkreutz, pop­u­la­tion 3,000, where Sil­via Hein­rich has per­son­ally come to pick me up. With a wide smile and sunkissed coun­te­nance, she bounds up in her Con­verse All-stars to the ob­vi­ous only Asian at the sta­tion. Wine­maker, field hand, sin­gle mother, daugh­ter, de­signer, mar­keter, ad­min­stra­tor – name it and she does it all, with barely six hours sleep a day. It's a priv­i­lege to spend the next 24 hours stay­ing at J.hein­rich, be­fore a hec­tic week­end be­gins at wine show Viev­inum 2018.

“A feel­ing from the heart”

In the cosy win­ery grounds, I meet Sil­via's par­ents, Gerte and Jo­hanne Hein­rich, from where the wine got its name. Sil­via is con­sid­er­ing a name change to just Hein­rich, al­though many al­ready con­fuse them for larger Bur­gen­land win­ery (Ger­not) Hein­rich. Maybe she should also con­sider S.hein­rich, see­ing how she has com­pletely trans­formed the busi­ness once she fully took over in 2010.

Her dream to make wine nearly didn't come to fruition as her par­ents ini­tially told her that it was too dif­fi­cult a job for women. It was her brother Hannes who got to at­tend wine­mak­ing school, al­though he had wanted to be a chef. (To­day he's hap­pier as a po­lice­man and a farmer.)

The win­ery of­fi­cially started in 1993, when Sil­via was 19 and had fin­ished school, so she even­tu­ally went to Vi­enna to work with com­pa­nies like Reuters. She didn't give up though, and at­tended viti­cul­ture classes as a guest stu­dent at the Höhere Bun­deslehranstalt für Wein- und Ob­st­bau. She also took the chance to make wines in other coun­tries like Ger­many and Italy, be­fore her par­ents re­lented and she joined them in 2002.

Her late grand­par­ents had al­ways planted vines – in fact, the old­est plot of grapes in Deutschkreutz is theirs, the three-hectare Alte Reben with Blaufränkisch from 1947. Sil­via grew up with “the best ed­u­ca­tion” – prun­ing, har­vest­ing, green work, and do­ing cel­lar work like pumpov­ers. She also dab­bled in mar­ket­ing and de­signed the logo and la­bels her­self in 1993.

Many faces of Blaufränkisch

We head out to her vine­yards, a scant 10-minute drive away, where she de­tails the grow­ing sea­son – be­gin­ning Septem­ber, they harvest Pinot Noir, Zweit­gelt, Blaufränkisch, Mer­lot, Caber­net Sau­vi­gnon and

Shi­raz, pretty much in that or­der. Be­fore 2010, they also had white va­ri­eties which ripened in late Au­gust, but she boldly de­cided to con­cen­trate on be­ing a red wine­maker, with 80% of the 36 hectares de­voted to the in­dige­nous grape. She has since con­verted to bi­o­log­i­cal meth­ods. In­stead of in­sec­ti­cides, she uses pheromones to chase away pests. Hot years have not been un­heard of, such as 2003, 2006 and 2013, but like all wine­mak­ers, she prefers cooler years with more hang­time for her fickle first love – Blaufränkisch.

Zweit­gelt, a cross­ing of in­dige­nous Blaufränkisch and Saint Lau­rent, is bor­ing, she de­clares – it's too safe, con­sis­tent and easy. It is Blaufränkisch that chal­lenges and de­fines her as a wine­maker, from re­flect­ing its ter­roir to choos­ing the right blend of oak bar­rels to ma­ture it in. In her hands, Blaufränkisch ranges from a vi­brant, sparkling Rosé to wild, ex­pres­sive, spicy, rus­tic and el­e­gant, prov­ing its long age­ing met­tle along the way.

My visit con­cludes with a tast­ing of al­most all her reds, as we marvel at how dif­fer­ently each Blaufränkisch ex­presses it­self. The Alte Reben, with just 1,800 bot­tles, is a stand­out, thanks to the hard hand­work that goes into it – sep­a­rated har­vest­ing, punch­ing down, and no tanks, the way grandpa would have un­der­stood.

It's clear, how­ever, that Sil­via is stretched from the re­cent stylish ex­pan­sions to the win­ery. With a four-room hos­pi­tal­ity of­fer­ing, mod­ern vis­i­tors' cen­tre and pro­duc­tion ca­pac­ity of 200,000 litres, she needs ad­di­tional help, es­pe­cially in look­ing af­ter the viti­cul­ture which is mostly in the hands of her fa­ther. Her nat­u­ral op­ti­mism fal­ters a lit­tle as she con­fides that she's been look­ing, but that this lit­tle cor­ner of Aus­tria may be too quiet to draw the kind of tal­ent she needs. Her own two daugh­ters, at eight and 15 years old, are a long way from de­cid­ing if they will join the win­ery, and her par­ents are not get­ting any younger. The mo­ment passes, and Sil­via is back with a ready laugh – af­ter all, she was born to make wine, and she's never be­grudged a mo­ment spent on her life-long mis­sion.

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