• Winemaker: Franz R. Weninger
  • Village: Horitschon / Balf / Sopron
  • Hectares: 25 in Horitschon, Austria; 25 in Sopron/Balf, Hungary
  • History: mixed agriculture with vineyards since 1828, second generation focusing on quality wine
  • Farming Practices: Certified Organic, Biodynamic (respekt-BIODYN)
  • Varietals: Focus on Blaufränkisch (called Kekfrankos in Hungary) and Furmint; also Zweigelt and Welschriesling
  • Top Vineyards: Kirchholz, Dürrau, Kalkofen, Saybritz, Steiner

The People

Franz’s wines have been with me in one form or another from the beginning: I poured them for guests and friends at Cafe Katja, schlepped them around NYC in my backpack as a salesperson, organized wine dinners around them for Convive; and now, in a wonderful twist of fate, I get to be their hype girl within my own portfolio. Dreams really do come true.

Franz and Petra are as enriching to my personal life as they have been to my professional life. They are creative, bold, thoughtful, and kind, always with an underlying commitment to justice – both environmental and social. They are dreamers of a better world, and their great strength is mentoring and collaborating with fellow dreamers they meet along the way.

The Wines

Franz’s wines reanimate an Austro-Hungarian food & wine aesthetic which is totally unique to this region, but has been hibernating for the last century – Burgenland was split from Hungary in 1921, and during the Cold War the border between Austria and Hungary doubled as the Iron Curtain, breaking the cultural conversation between Burgenland and Hungary for several generations. Now with vineyards on both sides of the border, and a deep affection for cultural history, Franz is recreating for us a taste of what was lost.

Blaufränkisch is one of those badass varietals that is highly responsive to terroir, and expresses beautifully in number of different styles. I like to compare it to Grenache, which can be a massive, brooding beast (as in Priorat), or as graceful and lifted as a reed swaying in the Neusiedlersee breeze (i.e. Sierra de Gredos). Franz’s style falls squarely on the Sierra de Gredos side of this analogy – pure, ethereal, and a perfect mirror for the variety of soils he grows it on. Tasting the single vineyards side by side is its own geology lesson (and a very rewarding one it is).